I am a woman who can do many things. I have many talents. When we bought dairy cows, I was up and running soon after making butter, yogurt and ice cream. I even started soft cheese making and have been quite successful.
Artisan cheese, however, has eluded me. I have tried several times but it just hasn't been quite what I wanted.
This past weekend was an anniversary vacation. After 20 years of marital bliss, we celebrated like any other normal couple would celebrate and drove 5 hours south to Thomasville, GA to attend an artisan cheese making class. Romantic, right?
This is why Devin and I are so perfectly matched. Simple trips to learn new skills is quite fun for us, and of course the opportunity to do no farm chores and to sleep in are extra bonuses.
Today I want to focus on the actual cheese class and later this week I will give my penny's worth about Thomasville. I will say that we enjoyed this trip very much!
Sweet Grass Dairy is quite popular in town and it actually is just the *cheese* portion of the dairy. It is a small family enterprise where the dad owns the cows and milk. He then provides the milk to one son, who makes cheese and the other who makes yogurt. These cows are all on grass, which is quite possible in South Georgia. The weather is quite mild through winter and quite hot and humid through the summer.
The class we attended had a total of 11 students and everyone was very nice. There was a variety of folks from three different states too! Some were there to enhance their culinary training, some were interested in being more self sufficient and other were simply lovers of fine cheeses. I didn't find anyone who attended because they looked sexy in a hairnet, can you believe that?
The owner of the company, Jeremy, was the person who taught the class. He was very nice and knowledgeable, and I liked having him there to bounce thoughts and ideas off. We personally are planning to build a small cheese cave in our basement, so we utilized this opportunity to construct ideas and let Jeremy share his expertise.
*****Devin basking in a cave of aging Asher Blue wheels*****
One of the many great advantages of this class was the unlimited access to all areas of the facility. We were able to tour the entire place and ask any and all questions. We also helped make the cheese by adding rennet, cutting curds and filling the molds.
*** Cave of recently made Thomasville Tomme cheese wheels***
After we molded our cheese wheels, the owner places them in a cave to ripen. After about 10 weeks, he will ship our 5 pound tomme cheese wheels to our homes. This means Devin and I will be getting 10 pounds of cheese by summer!!
The last portion of the class consisted of a cheese and wine tasting session. Sweet Grass is very generous with the samples too. We sampled over a dozen cheeses and were able to compare flavors and textures. We were full from all of the samples!
Raw milk artisan cheeses are part chemistry and part art. I think the art part of it is what I have had the most difficulty mastering. There are many, many variations within the same cheese that the cheese maker can adjust and create. Seeing the process in action and learning variations have given me the confidence to try again.
Visiting an actual cave and learning the feels and smells of a cave have helped us a ton in planning what to expect from our own home cheese cave.
This class was well worth the cost! I mean just in the cheese sampling alone it was worth the price! Sweet Grass Dairy and owner Jeremy are generous and friendly. We had a fabulous day in this class, and I understand why it sells out so quickly!
If you are planning a trip South through Georgia or to Florida, I highly suggest you stop through Thomasville. Sweet Grass Dairy is only one fine spot in this town, but it is well worth your time if you are interested in artisan cheeses. Later this week I will share a post about other aspects of this vacation.
Thank you Jeremy and Sweet Grass Dairy, another gem in the great state of Georgia!
PS. I will take you up on the offer to call if I run into any issues making my next tome at home!
Happy Tuesday Ya'll!