I started writing this post a few days ago and for some reason the words just weren't there. Yeah, it was going to be about this fantastic cheese and how I paired it with other fantastic things but today, today I have different feelings. Last night came as a blow to me though I did entertain the thought that I might be being too optimistic about the situation. I called the second Bush presidency even though everyone around me in Portland said otherwise. Maybe I don't have faith in people? I can't say that's true because I'm privileged enough to see and know some of the most amazing visionaries of our time. THAT is what I'm going to write about. People on the ground making things, doing things, creating things, changing things. That makes this post an easy beginning.
I've had the pleasure of selling Vermont Creamery's cheese and butter for many years. I knew that they were a great company and made delicious product but it really took competing in The Cheesemonger Invitational last year for me to really understand just what they do. It's rare that any Monger has the opportunity to sit down with the Co-Founder (Allison Hooper) and current President (Adeline Druart) to discuss the company and their philosophy on making cheese and running a business. It's a moment in time that I will cherish forever. (If you are a Cheesemonger, consider competing because this is the kind of experience that comes from it.)
Allison and her partner Bob stated making cheese as a demand for locally produced products started coming from chefs that wanted a specific flavor and texture for their foods. Alison had studied in France to make cheese so when a chef needed a French style fresh chèvre to complete a locally sourced dinner, she was the one to call. From there, Allison and Bob pooled their meager savings together to begin a business that was nearly unheard of at the time. People didn't really eat much goat cheese and goat cheese was not in every grocery store like it is today. Fast forward to today, Vermont Creamery is an industry leader in goat cheese and butter products but also in progressive business and environmental practices.
Vermont Creamery is a certified B Corp. I didn't know about this certification but now I am making an aim to make sure that I am supporting these businesses that are willing to work for the greater good. They often offer fantastic long term benefits for their workers and are finding ways of being successful while still giving back to the community and working towards environmental stewardship. This is important as a consumer because the way we spend our money says a lot about us as people. If we have the ability to be mindful of how we are spending, we should be. This is an easy way to affect change while enjoying great products.
Recently, Vermont Creamery introduced a new product. This isn't something that happens often because they are the type of company to make delicious products and not necessarily be concerned with fads or feel the need to create an extensive line up. They do what they do well, I mean, REALLY WELL. The buzz was swirling about their new product on social media and I was fortunate enough to try some at the Peterson's Holiday show in August. I knew I was going to need to get my hands on some when it was officially released too.
St. Albans is named after the town where they source their cow's milk from and it is made in the style of a classic French cheese named St. Marcellin. It's always been a favorite of mine and since we have been having importing issues with many French cheeses, it was nice to see something being made right here in the U.S. with the same attention to detail and quality down to even a similar terra cotta crock packaging. I had it in my fridge for a couple of weeks before I was able to actually get down to the business of deliciousness I had in mind for it but that really only made everything even better.
Geotricum is the mold that forms the paper thin rind and gives this cheese a delightful, yeasty flavor. The crock is necessary because the interior of this cheese is essentially a puddle. Put it in the oven like I did and it just ooooozes it's way in to your heart.
This baby deserved the top shelf pairings so I went with Quince & Apples Orange Marmalade with Lemons. Clare and Matt make every batch by hand, from coring and peeling the fruit, to hand ladling each jar. It's a commitment they have made to themselves, their team, and to consumers. They sent me samples of their line up because I will be partnering with them to do some demos here in the Seattle area and I will be with them in San Fransisco for the Fancy Food Show. I'm proud to work with them because their care and attention to detail is evident in everything they do. None of their flavors are too sweet so they are more than perfect for every pairing you can think up. I knew that the Marmalade would be perfect for the St. Albans and it was. Tart and creamy with such a nice hint of citrus sweetness.
Knowing that the Marmalade wasn't going to be too sweet I was able to also pair them with Walker's Scottish Shortbreads. These butter biscuits have been made since the late 1800's and the Walker company has committed to long standing relationships with their employees and the town in which they are made. They never use any hydrogenated fats and they rely on palm oil that is certified sustainable by the Rainforest Foundation.
This was such a delicious treat and one that made me feel good about what I was eating. Feel good flavors with real world passion and care. This is the hope and inspiration I see in this world and when things feel so out of whack, it can be helpful to be reminded that the world is changing and people care. People care enough to create businesses that not only garnish a profit but create a solid base in an area and protect the employees and the land. This is not business as usual, this is business as BETTER.
What are some of your handcrafted favorite food companies? I'd love to know so my arsenal of inspiration can constantly be refilled!
OH YEAH, try not to cry watching this amazing video.