a raw milk, natural rind farmer’s cheese
The history of the Lake Champlain and St. Lawrence River Valleys is the history of the French farmers who settled the region. Tradesmen, trappers, and soldiers required a secure local food source that would allow them to pursue their interests, instead of spending all their time preparing, gathering, and hunting for food. Nearly 400 years ago, the Bouchers received several allotments in New France, which eventually became Quebec, Canada. They raised meat and work animals, grew crops, and made soap, butter, and flour – both for themselves and for sale. Wealth, respect, and additional land were the rewards for supporting the local community, but the risk was very high.
During the French and Indian Wars one ancestor, Pierre Boucher, took control of Fort Trois Rivieres after it was depleted of able-bodied men and made peace with the Iroquois, a pivotal event in the history of the province. Boucherville was named in his honor and his statue stands on the grounds of the National Assembly Building in Quebec City. The French legacy remains in the religion, language, culture, and cuisine of the province.
Over the centuries many have abandoned farming, but a line of Bouchers remained in active agriculture. Today Boucher Family Farm is run by the families of Daniel and Denis Boucher. Family members perform all the daily operations on the 90-cow dairy, cropping 800 acres and maintaining over 200 acres of managed forest, which include deer yards and riparian corridors. For the past year, the Bouchers have shared the farm’s facilities with another dairying couple, a partnership that may be unique in the state; two farmers, one dairy, lots of possibilities, and lots of beautiful and delicious cheese.
Gore Dawn Zola is made in the Gorgonzola style, tangy, sharp and crumbly. The Bouchers live on Gore Road, and Dawn Boucher was the founding cheesemaker – her niece Kayleigh is learning the ropes to continue the creamery and cheesemaking into the future. This cheese is cured over a three-week period attracting naturally occurring flora to form a rind. The surface is scraped down before wrapping and further aging in their cellar. It has a unique character and bitter chocolate aroma.
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
- your favorite pizza dough
- 4 small to medium ripe pears
- juice of 1⁄2 lemon
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 4 ounces crumbled Gore Dawn Zola cheese
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a pizza stone if using.
Core and cut the pears into thin slices. Set aside in a bowl and toss with lemon and honey. Roll out your crust on a piece of floured parchment paper into a 10- to 12-inch circle. Arrange the pears evenly on the crust leaving about a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Scatter the blue cheese evenly over the top, tucking some pieces under and in between chunks of pear. Sprinkle the fennel seed on top. Slide the crust onto the pizza stone or onto a baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the crust is brown and crispy, the cheese is melted and the pears have caramelized. Remove from oven and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar. Cut into edges and serve.
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.