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We’re so excited to sponsor the 2022 StarChefs Rising Star Awards! The awards celebrate up-and-coming industry professionals who are trailblazing the contemporary American dining scene. Meet Rachel, an incredible baker and one of our phenomenal culinary partners from Charlottesville, VA, who participated in StarChefs D.C-Chesapeake. Read on to hear from Rachel herself, then stay tuned for Rachel’s exclusive recipe featuring our flagship soft-ripened goat cheese, Humboldt Fog!

Name: Rachel De Jong
Bakery: Cou Cou Rachou
City: Charlottesville, VA
Hometown: Charlottesville, VA

What is cheese’s role in a meal?
Oh, boy – what a tough question! For a meal, I love starting or ending with cheese (or both!!). As a Francophile, I’m an earnest lover of aperitifs and their food accompaniments. There’s not a whole lot better than a cheese board and it can be such a perfect way to set your palette for the meal to come (or, be a meal itself!!).

What’s your favorite unexpected way to use cheese?
As a baker, I love using cheese as an anchor for pastries. It can add such depth of flavor and texture – can be the star of the pastry or supporting character. I always have a fun cheese in our petite quiches, which change daily. Lately it’s been some variations of roasted leeks/spring onion with a local fresh goats cheese and pea shoots.
Also, I think this counts – I love using mascarpone to set whipped cream/chantilly for frosting cakes or finishing desserts. Adds a lovely flavor and stability!

Favorite food memory?
Well, all this talk about cheese and hors d’oeuvres has me thinking a lot about my Grandma and Mom’s style of entertaining (Gram has 7 kids, my mom has 5). Even if it were just family, added friends, or a party, we always had a huge appetizer hour (or two). It was not rare for Thanksgiving dinner to start after 10pm because we were just enjoying each other, cooking, and snacking. It was always so carefree and joyous – so many of my warmest memories are from those evenings – and probably had such a huge influence on my career choice.

Culinary secret weapon?
Citrus and salt! Neither are revolutionary, but I think they are two things that have become my signature with pastry and desserts. I don’t like for sweets to be overly sweet, and I love the bright and floral nature of adding citrus.

Hometown favorite restaurant or food?
This isn’t specific to Charlottesville, or even Virginia, but I do have a Southeastern soft spot for corn grits. Every Christmas morning we have grits and country ham, and they’re always on my Waffle House order 😉

Favorite Cypress Grove cheese — personally, and in the kitchen?
Oh, gosh another tough question! I’d have to say Humboldt Fog for both. It was the first one of Cypress Grove’s I tried, and I really feel like it was a door-opener for me in the world of cheese. As I mentioned above, this is a great example of a cheese that can really hold its own in a dish, or play off flavors that are more prominent. We recently featured it on our French onion croissant and I love that it matched the savory sweet nature of caramelized onions.

We’d love to hear the inspiration behind the recipe you developed with Cypress Grove cheese!
Ah, well, as I just noted we featured Humboldt Fog on our French onion croissant. I’d always loved the cheese but hadn’t used it much in recipes – it’s just so good on its own. I was a little worried about how it would pair with the danish and all that it has going on – for the filling, we caramelize onions and accent with white wine, bay leaf, black pepper, thyme, and malt or wine vinegar. But, it was so lovely and added a smokey, balanced sweetness and depth – truly grounded the brightness of the onion

And now — click here for Baker Rachel’s French Onion Croissant with Humboldt Fog recipe!

We’re so excited to sponsor the 2022 StarChefs Rising Star Awards! The awards celebrate up-and-coming industry professionals who are trailblazing the contemporary American dining scene. Before we hit the road for this year’s events, we’re taking a look back at one of the phenomenal chefs we partnered with in 2021: Bailey Sullivan of Monteverde Restaurant in Chicago. Read on to hear from Bailey herself, then stay tuned for Bailey’s exclusive recipe featuring our Ms. Natural fresh goat cheese!

Name: Bailey Sullivan
Restaurant: Monteverde
City: Chicago
Hometown: Chicago

What is cheese’s role in a meal?
To me – cheese can be a meal in itself! There is such a beautiful artistry in cheese making. Cheese can be funky, creamy, sharp, salty, grassy — there’s boundless uses!

What’s your favorite unexpected way to use cheese?
Love a good cheese frico! Frico is a traditional dish from Friuli Venezia Giula where typically Montasio cheese is toasted until bubbly and golden delicious in a sauté pan – sometimes with potatoes and sometimes just the cheese itself. Crispy on the outside and gooey in the center – what’s not to like?

Favorite food memory?
I was glued to my dad’s side growing up and I loved running around his Irish pub, Goldyburgers, out in Forest Park. One of my earliest food memories is prepping lots of snacks each year for the Superbowl – brown sugar bacon wrapped water chestnuts, tangy buffalo wing sauce, and Jell-O footballs!  

Culinary secret weapon?
A badass team and lots of good olive oil.

Hometown favorite restaurant or food?
My hometown favorite must be Goldyburgers – my dad’s pub! Sure – I am a touch biased but it’s the ultimate comfort food that I grew up eating and still do! I know there’s an old news article from Goldy’s past where I’m in a highchair shoveling a grilled cheese in my mouth – still holds true to today!

Favorite Cypress Grove cheese — personally, and in the kitchen?
Purple Haze, or Humboldt Fog, or Ms. Natural — okay, it’s hard to choose!  They all have such lovely flavor profiles and different application in the kitchen. I could happily eat all of them as is or build them into a dish – they’re super versatile!

We’d love to hear the inspiration behind the recipe you developed with Cypress Grove cheese!
Each year at Monteverde we put a new spin on the traditional tortelli verdi from Bologna, a spinach and parm filled pasta. When thinking about new ideas this last year I was inspired by a simple dish I always love to eat – palak paneer. A combination of flavors and cooking techniques from Northern Italy and Northern India – a beautiful egg yolk raviolo filled with garam masala spiced spinach and Ms. Natural goat cheese was born! The raviolo with a runny egg yolk center is toasted in brown butter and finished with toasted pistachio and pomegranate molasses instead of typical balsamic.

And now — click here for the Egg Yolk Raviolo recipe!

“Why is goat milk more expensive than cow milk?” This is a question we hear from time to time, and if you’ve ever compared prices, you might have experienced some sticker shock — but there’s a good reason why goat milk products come at a higher price. Buckle your seatbelts — you’re about to learn a whole lot of goat facts!

The price of cheese in the marketplace can vary for numerous reasons: scale of production; season of the year; special production techniques; age and affinage; miles travelled to reach the consumer; and milk source. The four animals most widely known as the sources of milk for cheesemaking are cows, goats, sheep, and water buffalo.

To understand why goat milk cheese is more expensive than cow milk cheese, consider the availability of the milk, the production process of the cheese, and the supply chain (or ‘path to market’).

Milk: Supply vs. Demand
As with cheese, the answer to this question starts with the milk. In the United States dairy industry, cows are king — or rather, queen. In 2020, there were nearly 9.4 million milk cows in the US, producing approximately 224 billion pounds of milk to fuel the cow milk dairy industry. Contrast that with goats: as of January 2021, there were 420,000 milk goats and kids in the US — about 4% the number of milk cows. Furthermore, goats are smaller animals that produce about 10% of the total milk output of cows. Demand for goat milk cheese has grown consistently over the past several years as consumers explore alternatives to cow milk, and goat cheese has become more commonplace. All of this points to the fact that there is less goat milk available in the US from which to make cheese, and high demand for it, leading to a higher price on the shelf.

Cow dairies also receive a substantial amount of funding and subsidies from the government and marketing support from state associations traditionally known as “milk marketing boards” or “milk advisory boards” (like Real California Milk and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, for example) while goat and sheep milk dairies are not included in such programs.

Cheese: Production and Aging
Another key factor in the cost of cheese is how it’s produced. Are traditional, artisan methods employed by a farmstead producer (i.e., a producer whose dairy is at the same physical location as their creamery)? Or is it a large-scale, high-tech operation that can achieve economies of scale? The number of employees involved (labor) and the time necessary to produce the cheese is key. Fresh cheeses that don’t require special production methods and extended aging will, in general, be less expensive than their aged counterparts. Cheeses that do require aging become more expensive because:

The Supply Chain
The miles a cheese must travel to reach the consumer, the number of times the cheese changes hands, and the work those hands must do all impact the final price of the cheese to the consumer. At retailers near our creamery in Arcata, Calif., our cheeses can sometimes be found at around half the price as they are on the East Coast!

Looking more closely at the supply chain, there are several factors that can drive up the cost of Humboldt Fog at the counter (spoiler alert, none of them are particularly sexy):

Ready for the quiz? Kidding! Thanks for following along and learning more about all of the factors that go into the price of goat milk and cheese — hopefully it’s given you a whole new perspective of the behind-the-scenes world of goats and cheesemaking, and some valuable information for your next trivia night, too.

Sources:

USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Milk Cows, 2011-2020
USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service: Milk Production, 2011-2020
USDA, Sheep and Goats Report
Kamin, Charlotte & McElroy, Nathan: A First Course in Cheese (10)

 

We’ve partnered with Goldbelly!

To give you the best ordering experience possible, we’ve partnered with Goldbelly for all of your cheese needs. You’ll be able to order all of your Cypress Grove favorites via their website, and your order will still ship directly from our creamery.

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