Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wholesome Dairy Gouda

Until yesterday, I'd never eaten a raw-milk gouda. Then, I picked up my work phone and heard a breathless voice, "Madame Fromage, I went crazy at the Kimberton Whole Foods. I'm on campus with a ton of local cheese." The voice belonged to a colleague of mine I know only via email. Amy Lipton, who works in the business school, heard about my cheese blog via an inter-office memo several months ago, and we've been shooting cheese notes back and forth ever since.

Yesterday, she appeared in the flesh, Mary Poppins-style, with a little insulated suitcase containing...oh, about 10 local cheeses she'd picked up in Berks County near her home. This gouda, made from the raw milk of Ayrshire cows, came from a farm she passed on her way into the city, Wholesome Dairy Farms in Yellow House, Pa. (Doesn't that sound like a pretty place?) Amy Poppins saw the farm's roadside sign for "Raw Milk," and she descended upon its farm store to do a little sleuthing.
"They've got raw milk yogurt, grass-fed beef, and gouda," Amy said, unloading her cheese pack onto my desk. There was a pepper-flecked hunk of Dragon's Breath from Keswick Creamery, a brick of mild cheddar from Amish cheesemaker Benuel Stoltzfus, and an assortment of yogurt cheese and port-infused cheese from a farm in Winfield, Pa.

The gouda from Wholesome Farms intrigued me. It didn't have a label, and it looked rustic. We rummaged for knives and napkins, then dug in. Young gouda is mild, smooth-textured, and salty. This one had a firm, crumbly texture (like an aged Provolone) with a fresh milky taste that turned tangy and yogurty at the finish. A slice of apple gave it balance. With some dark bread and a nutty ale, this would make a fine table cheese.

Someday, I'd like to visit Wholesome Dairy, where farmer and veterinarian Mark Lopez practices some interesting sustainable techniques, including a methane-reducing dairy feeding strategy. Curious. If you don't have a Mary Poppins-esque colleague to brighten your desk with cheeses, you could always check out this video of Lopez demonstrating his milking technique on his very companionable cow, Princess.


  1. ahh ! i'm so happy that you wrote about wholesome dairy farms ! i noted it in in response to your comment from you a while ago on my blog, but i wasn't sure if you saw it. i'm glad you found the dairy through the mary poppins-type friend. mark makes a manatawny mild cheddar too, but the gouda wins out my heart's taste buds. you must visit sometime ! i am sure he'd eventually like to make some more kinds of cheeses when his schedule better permits with experimenting in cheese-making.

    and i love the idea of "cheese notes."

  2. Wow, being a city girl I've never seen anyone milk a cow before. Do you think the technique of milking had any effect on the taste or quality of the cheese?

  3. I love how you girls roll! Sounds like some fabulous cheeses - the young Gouda sounds interesting - I am a big fan of salty. Thanks for sharing:)

  4. Peachi, this is a raw-milk cheese (unpasteurized), so I think the care that Mark puts into his milking does matter. It's a pretty awesome little video.

  5. I've got a reader in Los Angeles who would like to order Keswick Creamery's Dragon's Breath. Anybody know of a distributor?

  6. Keswick is literally an independent farmstead operation in every sense of the term. Melanie and Mark Dietrich Cochran do all their own distributing to DC, Philly and central PA on their own on top of all their cheesemaking and farming. However if you contact them - and ask real nice they just might go down to the post office and ship you a chunk.

    I'm NOT a fan of cheese with stuff in it, but the combo of raw jersey milk infused with a tea of three types of peppers grown by their farmers' market neighbors makes this a unique exception for me