Cave to Co-op, January 2017

Each month, your Neighboring Food Co-ops feature our region’s artisan cheesemakers by offering a specially selected cheese at great price. Look for the “Cave to Co-op” sign in the cheese section at your local food co-op. To find one near you, visit

This month’s special cheese is EXPERIENCE from Consider Bardwell Farm, West Pawlet, VT. 

CaveToCo-op.2017.01.Experience.jpgSpanning the rolling hills of Vermont’s southern Champlain Valley and easternmost Washington County, New York, 300-acre Consider Bardwell Farm was the first cheese-making co-op in Vermont, founded in 1864 by Consider Stebbins Bardwell himself. A century later, Angela Miller and Russell Glover are revitalizing the tradition with goat milk from our herd of 150 Oberhaslis and 65 cows from two neighboring herds of Jerseys. Intensive rotational grazing on organic native pastures produces the sweetest milk. Their cheeses are made by hand in small batches from whole, fresh, raw milk that is antibiotic and hormone free. Aged to perfection in their own extensive cave system, their cheeses reveal the full flavor of the beautiful milk from cows raised in the Mettawee valley.

Experience is made from pasteurized Jersey cow milk and is hand-cut and hand-stirred and washed with local Stout. Aged in the Dorset caves where it picks up a little bit of the “geo” from the environment that helps break the cheese down and ripen a bit further into a rich, yeasty and very silken wheel.

Excellent on a cheese plate, or try one of these seasonal recipes:


Baked Pasta w/Cauliflower and Experience

Serves 6

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower (1 3/4 pounds), cut into 1-inch florets
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced rosemary
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (6 ounces)
  • 1 whole Experience cheese—rind discarded, cheese cubed
  • 1 pound large shells, such as conchiglioni
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 450°. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and fill a large bowl with cold water. Boil the cauliflower until tender, 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry; keep the cooking water hot. In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and rosemary, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned in spots, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and boil until evaporated. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the cream, 1 cup of the Parmigiano and the Experience. Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Scrape the cauliflower and cheese sauce into the pasta and toss well. Spread half of the pasta into a 3-quart baking dish and top with 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs. Top with the remaining pasta, 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup of Parmigiano. Bake the pasta for about 20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the top is crisp. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Baked sweet potato with Experience cheese

Serves 4 – 6

  • 3 sweet potatoes, skin-on, halved lengthwise
  • 1 T olive oil plus extra to rub and drizzle
  • 4 T unsalted  butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • ½ t freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4-5 ounces Experience cheese, chopped

Preheat oven to 400°F

Rub sweet potato with oil. Place on a baking tray, cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and return to oven to bake for a further 15 minutes or until tender and skin is slightly crisp. Cool slightly.

Place 1 tablespoon oil and 1 T butter in a pan over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until soft. Transfer to a bowl. Scoop flesh from sweet potato and add to bowl with thyme leaves, egg, nutmeg, cheese and remaining butter, then mash. Fill sweet potato shells with mash, drizzle with oil, top with thyme sprigs and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.


Wilted Endive with Melted Experience Cheese

Serves 2

  • 2 heads endive
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 4 ounces Experience cheese, sliced
  • pinch of dried oregano

Pre-heat the broiler to high or turn the oven to its highest setting.

Trim the endive and cut lengthwise into quarters. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and soften the shallot for 2 minutes. Add the endive quarters, cut side down and cook for 3 minutes. Turn them over, cover the pan and cook for another 3 minutes, then season with salt and pepper. Arrange the cheese over the endive and sprinkle with the oregano. Slide under the broiler or into the hot oven for a few minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Serve immediately.


Pizza w/Potatoes and Experience Cheese

Makes one 13 X 18 inch pizza

  •  2 medium russet potatoes (about 1 pound), quartered
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 small bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced, plus 2 tablespoons chopped fronds
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • For the pizza:
  • 1 prebaked pizza crust
  • 6 ounces Experience cheese, rind removed, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Place a pizza stone or inverted rimmed baking sheet on the lower oven rack and preheat to 500 degrees F. Make the potatoes: Combine the potatoes, garlic, sliced fennel and fennel fronds in a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium; cook until the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Add the olive oil and mash until almost smooth. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper; set aside.

Assemble the pizza: Keep the prebaked crust on the baking sheet. Scatter the Experience and potato mixture over the crust, spreading the potato mixture slightly. Scatter the sliced fennel on top, sprinkle with the parmesan and drizzle with the olive oil. Transfer the baking sheet to the hot pizza stone and bake until the cheese melts and the crust is golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and season with salt and pepper.

Cave to Co-op is a partnership between Provisions International and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) to support local, artisanal cheese producers in our region and make their products more easily available to co-op shoppers.  The NFCA is a network of more than 30 food co-ops in New England, locally owned by more than 90,000 people like you.  For more information, please visit