Cave to Co-op, January 2022

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 PAWLET from Consider Bardwell Farm, West Pawlet, VT

Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet Vermont is a producer of award winning handmade cheese. (named by Food & Wine as one of the Top 50 Cheese Producers!) Spanning the rolling hills of Vermont’s 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.

In the late 1860s, the farm changed hands. The Nelsonville Cheese Factory purchased the property, where they continued the same service that Bardwell had started until the late 1930s, when the Great Depression brought it all crashing down.

A century later, Angela Miller and Russell Glover, with the help of cheesemaker Peter Dixon, revitalized the tradition of cheesemaking on the farm. After years of both accolades ad changes – today’s line up of cheeses are made using the milk from neighboring Indian River Farm to craft cheeses that are both friendly enough for everyone but nuanced enough for the discerning palate.

Consider Bardwell Farm’s mission is to produce world class cheese in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner. In order to meet the sustainability aims they focus on community, conservation, and farmland. From partnering with local farms to conserving acres of grassland and excellent treatment of their cows Consider Bardwell Farm works to fulfill their mission and produce cheeses for us to savor.

Pawlet is an Italian-style mountain toma, and it is aged four to six months. Flavors are mild, buttery and rounded, with hints of flowers, grass and savory herbal notes. A creamy texture and bright bite makes this a great sandwich cheese or an appetizer with broad appeal. It is a versatile cheese, like the town of Pawlet itself, which provides the farm with slate, syrup, and timber.

Twice Baked Potatoes with Pawlet and Fennel

serves 4, pre-heat oven to 425°F

  •  4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, cored and cut into 1/2-inch
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 pound Pawlet cheese
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced

Bake the potatoes directly on the upper rack of the oven for 40 minutes, or until tender.

Spread the fennel wedges in a shallow glass baking dish and drizzle with the wine and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the dish with foil and bake in the bottom third of the oven for 40 minutes, or until the fennel is tender and golden brown on the bottom. Let cool slightly, then chop. Cut 8 slices from the Pawlet and cube the remaining cheese. Heat the milk in a small pan, add the cubed cheese and stir until melted.  Halve the warm baked potatoes lengthwise. Scoop out the inside of the potatoes into a bowl to within 1/4 inch of the skins. Using a masher or a large fork, coarsely mash the potatoes with the butter. Pour in the hot milk mixture, add the garlic and mash the potatoes until smooth and fluffy. Stir in the chopped roasted fennel. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the stuffing into the potato skins and transfer to a baking sheet. Top each potato half with a slice of the remaining cheese. Bake the potatoes in the upper third of the oven for 12 minutes, until they are hot throughout and the cheese is melted. Cool slightly and serve.

Creamy Polenta with Pawlet

  • 4 cups of milk
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups of instant polenta
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces grated Pawlet cheese
  • extra grated Pawlet for serving

Bring the milk and water to a rolling boil in a large heavy saucepan. Add the salt and gradually pour in the polenta, stirring constantly. Continue stirring and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the polenta thickens and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and cheese. Serve with a bowl of extra grated Pawlet at the table.

This polenta can also be poured into a buttered pan and cooled until solid. When cool, remove from pan and slice as desired. Sauté the slices of polenta in butter until crisp and golden. Serve with a simple tomato sauce and extra cheese.          serves 6

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