Perspectives - Fall 2018 - 29
beer cheddar. Sam's favorite, hands-down, is the
"I always felt like this was because I didn't have
a very sophisticated palate, but I've always loved
the 6-month," Sam laughs. "When we get the
6-month here it's creamy, it's fresh, it's really,
But, it just so happens that this very cheese took
First Place in the aged cheddar category this year
at The American Cheese Society. "That's a really big deal for Shelburne Farms, winning that.
That's a very competitive category, too," Sam
says. "And, that was sort of like... vindication!"
(Sam doesn't pump his fist in the air-he is more
mild-mannered than his brother-but you can
tell, he's proud.)
Accolades abound for Parish Hill Creamery,
too. "We only enter one contest every year-The
American Cheese Society Judging & Competition," Peter says. "And every year we've won
at least one award. In five years, we've won
three first places, two third places, and a second
place." (Peter may actually be pumping his fist in
the air on the other end of the phone line.)
In all seriousness, Parish Hill produces nine
different varieties of cheese, mostly in an Italian
style. Browsing their website, the names and images of these cheeses are fantastic. "Wild West
Blue" is a light yellow hunk, scored with blue
stripes and specks: a "traditional two-curd Gorgonzola." The "Suffolk Punch" is a gourd-shaped
yellow cheese: "whole milk Caciocavallo-style."
And the "Idyll" with a a blackened-gray rind that
looks like sidewalk cement, bright with crumbly yellow innards, is a: "part-skim, long aged
Peter and Rachel buy their milk from the Elm
Lea Farm at the Putney School (where both Sam
and Peter attended high school themselves). Students there are encouraged to work at the on-site
dairy farm as part of their education. "They still
graze the cows and it's a classic Vermont hill
farm. They only milk 35 cows, holsteins and
jerseys," Peter describes. "It's a nice blend of
milk for cheesemaking. It's not too low in components that there's just a lot of whey and not
much cheese yield, but it's not too fatty of a milk
to make a wide variety of cheeses."
In terms of which Parish Hill Creamery cheese
to name as his favorite? Peter can't do it.
"They're like children, right? Some days your
kid is behaving well, and that day, that's your
favorite. So, it's like that." The cheese Peter
admits to being the most excited about is their
"Cornerstone" cheese, which he describes as an
"original concept cheese" where "all the ingredients are made by us." He's not kidding.
"We do things the most difficult way we can
figure," touts the Parish Hill Creamery "Cheese"
page on their website. And that rings true for the
Cornerstone. It's a raw milk cheese made with
no commercial ingredients. In fact, Peter makes
the fermenting cultures himself. Instead of refined salt, he buys evaporated Atlantic Ocean sea
salt from The Maine Sea Salt Company. "It gives
our cheese a unique flavor." And he even makes
the rennet for this cheese the traditional way:
from the cured stomachs of calves. "We're the
only people in the whole United States and Canada that make cheese commercially completely
this way," he adds.
Hey reader, are you ordering some for yourself
online right now?
DO WHAT YOU LOVE,
LOVE WHAT YOU DO
Sam has to get back to his farm duties, and
leaves the interview with a warm handshake.
Peter is ready to wrap up the call, unload the
cheese, and eat dinner. These are the days.
"We've done well, you know?" Peter says,
starting to offer up his final thoughts. "To be the
farm manager at Shelburne Farms, that's quite
a title there. Sam has got a good reputation for
what he does. It's not just the fancy farm; he's
actually run that place and made a profit there.
And then I've hard-scrabbled my way into being
very well known as a cheesemaker and educator in the U.S. I think we're just very passionate
about what we do."
Peter harkens back to the brothers' childhood in
conclusion. "We had the little family farm and it
was a great way to grow up. And I think we were
just really fortunate. Rather than going off into
some other career, it just really had a resonation
for us, each of us, the farming life."
Peter pauses-"I'm getting a little teary here!"
He clears his throat.
"Now, we're just still doing the same kind of
life that we grew up doing. So, yeah, it's great.
It's just a great thing."
Perspectives - Fall 2018
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Perspectives - Fall 2018
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