Sunday, October 4, 2009

Patches of Star Havarti and Queso Blanco

Here’s my deepest fear: discovering I’m lactose intolerant. Gulp. Every few weeks, I hear from someone I know who has been given this diagnosis, and I shiver. At least I could still eat goat cheese, right? According to Elly Hushour, humans can digest goat’s milk in 20 minutes, while cow’s milk takes an hour.

Hushour is the cheese mistress of Patches of Star Dairy, a goat farm in Nazareth, Pa. that is licensed to sell raw milk. I met her this morning at the Headhouse Square Farmers’ Market in Center City Philadelphia; her arm-length loaf of goat havarti – a new product –stopped me in my tracks.

Hushour started making goat cheese back in the mid-80s when she was a new mother. She read about the nutritional value and easy digestability of goat’s milk and began experimenting with recipes. Today she produces a variety of raw milk-certified yogurt, ice cream (woo hoo!), and cheeses, including Queso Blanco and the only domestic Halloumi I’ve ever seen.

I love Patches of Star Havarti. More and more, I see how raw-milk cheese carries a complexity I just don’t taste in pasteurized cheeses, and this one is no exception. Havarti is usually a weed of a cheese in my book – a cold-case snoozer – but Patches of Star Havarti is superbly creamy, gently grassy, with a barnyard hook. It almost tastes like Provolone.

I also tried the Garlic Parsley Queso Blanco, which Hushour recommended as a topping for pasta (crumbled on top of noodles with black olives, she said). I liked the herbiness of the cheese, and, okay, I have a weakness for any cheese that’s shaped like a wigwam. But I’ll go back to the havarti again. It’s outstanding.

If you want to try Patches of Star cheese, you’ll have to haul butt to Headhouse Square, because Hushour only sells directly to her customers. Or you could drive out to Nazareth and check out her rotational grazing and her goats, who are fed on sunflowers.


  1. Tenaya,

    Thanks so much for stopping by the brunch and FWTS. I love cheese! Sorry we didn't get a chance to meet in person yesterday. Welcome to the Philly food blog scene, everyone is pretty sweet.

  2. Thanks for the welcome! Cheeseburgers count as cheese -- I'll add you to the blogroll, baby.

  3. Wonderful blog, Tenaya, or should I say, Madame Fromage? I read so quickly that at first I thought you said I should drive out to Narberth to see the grazing goats, and got excited. Alas, it was Nazareth -- but maybe not the one all the way over in the Middle East. (Come to think of it, don't we also have a Bethlehem here?) Thanks for the great yummy photos too.

  4. Madame -

    Sorry you had to leave the brunch early, I would love to say hi in person. I spent 4 years in Wisconsin and miss the fish fry and cheese on a daily basis. Next time you're in for a slice of Elvis, ask for me. I'd love to sit and chat.

  5. Patches of Star and Elly Hushour (lovely name!) can also be found at the Union Square Greenmarket in NYC three or four days a week year round -- thank goodness. Note also her aged raw goat Colby and goat Cheddar. Exquisite!

  6. Patches of Star also attends the Piazza Farmers Market in Northern Liberties at the Piazza at Schmidts, every Saturday year-round from 10-2!