November is here and Thanksgiving is around the corner. I help run the Cheese Lovers Club at Venissimio Cheese and this year for our November CLC selection we wanted to give THANKS to some products with purpose. Not only are these cheeses and accoutrement killer in the taste department but they are giving back to their communities.
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet with Caroline Holstettler at the fancy food show in San Francisco. Caroline is the founder of the “Adopt an Alp” program, which supports traditional Swiss Alpage cheese making and transhumance. Transhumance is the movement of people and animals in accordance with the season. During the summer months farmers will lead their herds up the mountain to graze on the luscious biodiverse fields of the Swiss Alps. You can probably imagine this is not an easy task, spending the summer far away from the conveniences most of us are used to. It comes as no surprise that the amount of people still willing to take on this task is slowly declining. With the help of the Adopt an Alp program we can support the Swiss cheese makers who continue making traditional Swiss Alpage cheese, help customers understand transhumance and appreciate the work that goes into getting these cheeses to their tables. It is a win-win situation! Our customers have access to unique high quality cheese and hopefully have a better understanding of the process of transhumance and the adopted cheese sold creates income that supports the cheesemakers and keeps the tradition alive.
Video cutting open the 80Lb wheel of Bleiki Sbrinz
My shop adopted 5 different Alps this year and for the Cheese Lovers Club we are using Bleiki Sbrinz. The makers Paul and Agnes Barmettler are dedicated sbrinz producers and this past April Paul was honored as the only one in the past year to be awarded the highest score of 20 in every single inspection. They age their Sbrinz in extra high humidity which results in a fine rind and deep, sweet flavors.
Our other two selections bring us back to the states. Reading (pronounced RED-ing, I believe) comes to us from Spring Brook Farms in Reading, Vermont. I must say the wheels we received for this order are exceptionally tasty! This award winning cheese is inspired by Raclette and is the perfect cheese for your next raclette or fondue party this season. Not only is this cheese hella tasty but the sales support Spring Brook’s “Farms for City Kids” Program, which is dedicated to preserving farmland and responsible for educating over 10,000 students free of charge! Their students help grow vegetables, care for the animals, and tend to the greenhouse on their more than 1,000 acre farm. They also have a viewing area where they make cheese so the students can watch the process, further enhancing their mission by creating a unique venue for students to learn about chemistry, microbiology, food preservation, economics, health and nutrition. You can check out their website HERE, which features some of those kids taking care of some Tarentaise, This year’s ACS best in show winner. If you are interested in donating click here!
Our last cheese is also from the fine state of Vermont. Shelburne Farm is a non-profit working farm focused on education for a sustainable future, learning that links knowledge, inquiry, and action to help build a healthy future for communities and the planet. They provide learning opportunities for all ages and you can check out their site HERE for learning opportunities on the farm. I have not had the honor of visiting Shelburne Farm YET but I’ve only heard amazing things about it. I imagine it being the emerald city (from the wizard of Oz) of dairy farms. You can support the work they are doing by becoming a member, gifting a membership to the farm, or making a donation… or buy lots of Shelburne farm cheese, like our featured cheese Shelburne Clothbound Cheddar. This cheese is made in the old- world style using the traditional English process of binding curds in cheesecloth, sealing with lard and cave aging over a year. This cheese rarely makes it out of Vermont for distribution so we are super THANKFUL to be able to bring these cheese to Sunny San Diego this fall. We have just a bit left in my shop at Venissimo Cheese in Mission Hills. Hit me up if you want me to save you a wedge =)
Lastly, we always feature an accoutrement in our Cheese Lovers Club packages and I was feeling particularly thankful for a jam company out of Santa Cruz, California, Friend in Cheeses, that created a line of drought responsible Jams. I’m a native Californian and it seems like we are always in or in danger of a drought. Tabitha Stroup, fruit and curd wrangler at F.I.C , specifically recommend her prickly pear jam for tapping into the fall flavors of the cactus, bergamot and cardamom! As Tabitha would say “Slap some jam on it” and check out their site for all the alluring drought responsible jam flavors she is cooking up. Thank you for caring about our planet!
Well now I’m overwhelmed with all the “Feels” and I’m feeling tremendously thankful myself to be able to bring good food, made by good people in a good way to so many people. Not to get all sappy on you all but I definitely have a lot to be thankful for this year. It has been an amazing year of adventures and learning. I just want to thank anyone who has supported me in any way during this incredible year of growth. It is not taken for granted one bit. I hope we can continue this journey together in the future.
CHEERS TO CHEESE!