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 www.nfca.coop/members.
This month’s special cheese is Mixed Drum, Twig Farm, West Cornwall, VT
Twig Farm is a small goat farm in West Cornwall, Vermont that has been in operation since 2005. Cheesemaker Michael Lee uses traditional equipment and techniques to make his cheeses, forming them by hand and aging in his cheese cellar. The twenty-acre farm is located in West Cornwall, Vermont, about 10 miles south of Middlebury. While Michael sold the goats a few years ago to Ice House Farm, he still visits the goats and buys milk from this herd to make cheese.
Michael makes all Twig Farm cheese by hand, using traditional techniques and equipment for small-scale artisan cheese production. The cheeses age in a cellar with a temperature and humidity controlled environment. Prior to making Twig Farm cheese, Michael worked as an apprentice at Peaked Mountain Farm in Townsend, Vermont, and before that was a cheese manager at South End Formaggio in Boston, Massachusetts.
One of the most striking features on all of Twig Farm’s cheeses are the natural rinds they wear. Occasionally likened to a Jackson Pollock painting, the rind has different color patches and the occasional spot of fuzz. These are all a result of minimal handing during the cheese’s time in the cellar, the natural flora in the cave.
Mixed Drum is made in the fall when the goat milk production slows down and cow milk from neighboring Mose Dairy Farm is blended in. Don’t be fooled by its rustic exterior! Aged a minimum of 90 days, this semi-firm raw-milk cheese is delicately flavored with notes of roasted almond and lemon peel. Incredibly versatile for pairing: Loire Valley Chenin, off-dry cider, a mid-weight stout or a light red wine would make excellent partners for a little wedge of this goodness!
Penne With Mixed Drum, Serrano Ham, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- 8 ounces penne
- 1 pound Mixed Drum, shredded
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 6 ounces Serrano ham slices, torn coarsely by hand into chunks
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, combine cheese, milk, crème fraîche, and butter. Cook over medium-low heat until cheese is mostly melted and you have a creamy sauce. To keep the cheese sauce from breaking, remove the sauce from the heat before the cheese is entirely melted. Season with pepper, adding more to taste if you like.
- In a shallow buttered casserole dish, toss pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and Serrano ham. Pour the sauce over the pasta, then stir together until combined. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and bubbling around the edges.
- Serve immediately
Pan con Tomate y Mixed Drum
• 8 slices 1/2-inch-thick ciabatta
• Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing and drizzling
• 2 garlic cloves halved crosswise
• 4 tomatoes halved crosswise
• Kosher salt
• Shaved Mixed Drum cheese for topping
1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
2. Brush one side of each bread slice with oil and arrange oiled side up on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, until golden.
3. Rub the toasts with the garlic cloves, then rub with the tomato halves until all of the flesh is gone; discard the tomato skins. Season the toasts with salt and pepper.
4. Top with Mixed Drum, drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Braised kale with Mixed Drum snow
- 2 pounds kale, preferably a combination of black Tuscan and green
- ½ cup olive oil, divided
- Salt and pepper
- 4 ounces plain Greek yogurt
- Zest of 1 lemon, very finely grated
- ½ to 1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin seed 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 3 serrano chiles, sliced thin into disks
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Best quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling 5 ounces Mixed Drum cheese
Cave to Co-op is a partnership between Provision 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 40 food co-ops in our region — including yours — that are working together to advance their vision of a thriving regional economy, rooted in a healthy, just and sustainable food system and a vibrant community of co-operative enterprise. For more information, please visit www.nfca.coop.