Producer: Chapel Hill Creamery
Milk: Pasteurized Cow
Age: 3-6 weeks
North Carolina's farming has long been dominated by hogs and tobacco, but Portia McKnight and Flo Hawley of Chapel Hill Creamery are looking to change that by producing high-quality cheese from their herd of Jersey cows.
This past Sunday, I got a chance to meet them and tour their farm. The operation is small, with only 17 milk-producing cows and a facility about the size of a trailer, but they're already making some amazing cheeses.
Because they are a younger operation, they are producing mainly fresh cheeses with very little aging. One example is their Carolina Moon, a mild, buttery, Camembert-style cheese which is their most popular offering. But with three on-site aging "caves" in place, I look forward to seeing more diverse offerings in the future.
After sampling a number of their cheeses, I went home with their Calvander, a beautiful small round washed in a brine solution, and named for a nearby historic farming community. The rind is a soft peach color and thick, with a pleasant chewiness. The interior is light yellow and creamy with a spicy, sweet and slightly floral flavor. Because of its mild and spicy flavors, I'd pair it with something light and fruity like a bottle of Pinot Grigio. Accompanied by honey and apples, it could make an excellent finish to the meal. It could also be cooked with potatoes for a comforting main dish.
Calvander, along with Chapel Hill Creamery's other cheeses like fresh and smoked mozzarellas, pheta, farmer's cheese, smoked farmer's cheese, Carolina Moon (Camembert-style, aged 4-5wks) and New Moon (Camembert-style, aged 9 days) are available from local farmer's markets (in the Piedmont area of North Carolina) and from the Weaver Street Market.
You can also contact the Chapel Hill Creamery at 615 Chapel Hill Creamery Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27516, (919) 967-3757.