Caromont cheeseAccording to Gail Hobbs-Page of Caromont farm, “seasonality is everything” in cheese making. The flavors of the goat milk go from lemony and creamy in the new-grass spring flush following birth, to a nutty and “goat-y” flavor coming from caproic, caprylic, and capric acids during the hot central VA heat in the middle of the lactation cycle. Spring goats’ milk makes for an explosion of activity for Caromont, and Gail says it’s absolutely the best time to be making and eating fresh chevre.

But I want fresh chevre in February! You can, says Gail, but “fresh chevre in February is like a tomato in February” – it’s cheating nature. In order to get that February chevre, Gail reckons some cheese maker has to either freeze curds from the previous spring (mmm… milk freezer burn), or buy them from very far away. Caromont considered saying fresh chevre wouldn’t be available past a certain point, but “people don’t want to hear that.” I for one would probably be grumpy on some dreary winter day if Caromont isn’t available on Relay foods for my own instant gratification, but such is life.

Partly to showcase the central VA foodscape, and partly to make up for the goats’ dry months, Caromont is branching out into the “tremendous sources of quality grass-fed milk here in Albemarle county”, using lesser known Brown Swiss cows at a nearby farm. Just like with the goats’ milk, Gail wants to start simple with fresh cheeses “so people can taste the milk.” However, more varied and refined cheeses are on the way, such as a surface ripened cow’s milk cheese and a pressed cheese washed in Albemarle Ciderworks cider! It’s that local seasonal connection that punches my inner hipster buttons, as well as the inner child who wants to play with his own toys first. Ms. Hobbs-Page summed it up nicely saying “Do you really think we’re getting the best cheeses from France? No, they’re keeping the best for themselves. Virginia cheeses need to be enjoyed by Virginians.” Consider it done.