Massachusetts - "Home of the First American Artisanal Cheese"
The tagline of the Massachusetts Cheese Guild always made my smile. Well, of course, the first atrisanal cheese was made in MA. Unless the Jamestown, VA settlement whipped some up before disappearing into the continent, those with the first chance would have been the Pilgrims in MA.
Back then of course, 'Artisanal' wasn't a word associated with cheese. The settlers were just continuing where they left off back home, likely with their English Cheddar-types and Wensleydale-types.
If you live in MA, then you can actually get a feel for the farming conditions - by visiting the Plimouth Plantation, or the Fairbanks House in Dedham. At the Faribanks house, you can actually see some actual 19th Century presses and moulds - some still with the dried whey and curds upon them. And the scales for weighing cheese for sale. Pretty cool.
If we return to the present, then , yes you'll find a number of artisanal cheesemakers here in Massachusetts, and this week, I'm getting on my bike again, and heading off West from Boston through central Mass, to the Berkshires (popping into New York State), looping down and round back to Boston. Seven days, 637 km, and 7300 m of climbing.
This route won't hit all the cheesemakers in MA, but definitely some the most rural (and some of my favorites):
Little White Goat Farm
Chase Hill Farm
Four Fat Fowl (NY)
Grace Hill Dairy
I hope you'll enjoy reading about these farms and what they do, and how 2020 has been for them. And then support them, by eating their cheese.
It all starts on Tuesday Sept 15th, when I head to Hubbardston and drop in at Westfield Farm.