Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cheese Please

About a year and a little over I wrote a post on visiting our local cheese farm. And then for some unknown reason it didin't get published. I just noticed the post was nevedr shared with you. Soooooo long after I visited with Jules Wesselink, of Winchester Cheese Farm and interviewed him after an article appeared in Saveur Magazine naming him one of the 50 best cheese producers in the States.

Jules Wesselink, WInchester Cheese Farm

Jules emmigrated to the states in the 1950s after being bron and raised in Holland. He had a dairy in the Los Angeles area and slowly moved east to avoid urban scrawl and eventually ended up here in WInchester. He returned to Holland to learn the art of making cheese from the milk his cows produce. He made a few batches, shared it with friends and the business has grown steadily since then.

The farm lies off a main drag, with an old covered wagon beckoning you to come to the farm: To the Cheese Farm

At first view, the farm is just a farm. There is a trailer out front inviting you in to buy cheese. Inside is the wonderful aroma of Gouda cheese. There are several tasting tables and suggestions on how to serve or cook with the cheese. Jules was very welcoming and willingly gave me a tour.

His daughter Valerie and her husband are the cheese makers these days. Valerie took me on a quick tour of the production room, which of course, being late afternoon empty. Cheesemaking takes place in the mornings. If you go to their home site you can get a good look at cheese production. Valerie also showed me the post production storage area. She told me that when they started out they had one refrigerated trailer to store the cheese. They now own nine.

Just out of the presser
This is the cheese just out of the presser. The one closest to the lens was their Jalepeno spoced cheese. MMmmmmm.

In order for the cheese to be called Gouda it must age at least 90 days. It can be aged longer and Winchester cheese has a variety of aged cheeses. My favorite being the longest aged. It is very hard and has a great "pecorrino" taste to it. A very pungent, yet nutty flavor. It is great for grating and putting on a salad.

Aging Cheese

I asked Jules for his favorite way to eat his cheese and he said with bread. Nothing fancy, just a good loaf of bread and his cheese. It's that simple for him. I enjoy his cheese in a bread loaf I've made with green onion and spices.

Cheese Please

I asked Jules if he would limit his production to a few thousand pounds a year. "No way!" He said if people will continue buying, he'd be happy to sell the world his cheeses. They are currently available in our local Trader Joe's and a few other grocers. You can also purchase it directly from the farm and at cheese events nationwide. If you have a favorite cheese purveyor, ask them to contact Jules and acquire some of his cheese to try.

Weighing and Packaging

I cannot emphasize enough that this is a farm produced product. It is a family owned and operated business, with a few other employees. There is not a corparate agenda, just cheese lovers, producing a superior product. Come on out to the farm for a tour! If you do, contact me, and maybe we can go together!