Sunday, May 18, 2014

Visiting The Marfa Maid Dairy

I make it a point to visit cheese farms and/or cheese shops in every town I vacation (I call it a "cheesecation"), and my trip to Marfa, TX was to be no different. It happened very serendipitously, as many things in my life as of late - I was staying at the Adobe Chi in Marfa through AirBnB (so awesome, stay there) and introduced myself to the owner as an internet marketer and cheesemonger. The owner told me about her friend, Malinda Beeman, the owner of the Marfa Maid Dairy and gave me her contact information to write about a visit. The farm doesn't regularly allow visitors, but Malinda knew of the Houston Dairymaids and invited me for cheese and wine. How nice! My boyfriend Brenden and I came by one afternoon in the middle of the week.

Malinda's farm has an incredible story. She was an art professor in Houston who moved out to Marfa and founded the Marfa Studio of Arts, which whoa, is quite the accomplishment in itself. But she didn't stop there - she decided to start a goat farm. A goat farm IN THE DESERT, with help from Kickstarter. She started it with her partner Allan McClane, whose grandfather had a dairy in Cape Cod. It's such a great story and they are so full of character that they've been filmed for a documentary, Simple As That.

I first encountered her cheese in The Get Go, Marfa's tiny version of a Whole Foods. It was light chevre which came in many different versions. I ate an entire cup in a day!

But on the farm, Malinda had alpacas (or llamas, I wasn't quite sure), a bunch of kitties and a small goat herd. It was April, so the kids were in abundance and we made friends with an adorable brindle named Aurora and the mischievous Quattro, who untied both of my shoelaces. Brenden had never been on a goat farm, which made it even more special when Aurora chewed on his jeans.

Quattro doing what he does best to Malinda

Beautiful Aurora

We had a small tour of the milking room and the kitchen, where Malinda discussed with me the style of cheeses she makes and the specifics of the pasteurization process. She put out a fantastic spread of cheeses, plain, jalapeno and sun-dried tomato chevre and plain and garlic and basil feta. Wowza! I was particularly impressed by the feta - so clean tasting. Because they live in the desert and can't pasture, Allan and Malinda feed their goats locally-made alfalfa. Allan is starting to grow his own oats.

When Allan came in, things became significantly more serendipitous. Allan, who is of French Canadian ancestry and from New England (like me), is a motorcycle fanatic (like Brenden). We explained the Brenden ran the Common Motor Collective and dealt with all kinds of motorcycles. Allan and Brenden went off to the giant warehouse full of motorcycles to geek out and Malinda and I stayed back, chatting and drinking more wine. Brenden said that Allan knew way more about motorcycles than him, which I know is rare. It all felt very much like kismet that we shared similar passions. It was magical and lovely, much like everything in Marfa.

Left to Right: Nicole, Allan and Malinda

Allan and Malinda are currently looking for an intern to stay on their farm and help out. Contact them if you're interested or would like to attend one of Malinda's cheese making classes. You can only get Marfa Maid cheese in the Big Bend region, so be sure to do so if you're ever taking a cheesecation of your own.

Much thanks for Allan and Malinda for inviting me to their farm! I adore them.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Queso Queen Goes to Madison - ACS 2013

Big fat news in Queso Queen land.

On May 15th, which happened to me my second anniversary at the Houston Dairymaids, my cheese boss Lindsey, invited me to join her at the American Cheese Society conference. This year, it's being held in Madison, Wisconsin.

Y'all. This is a dream come true.
I'll arrive late Tuesday night in the motherland, the state of Wisconsin (neither Lindsey or I have been!).
Wednesday, we'll be going on a farm tour.

  1. Roelli Cheese 15982 Wisconsin 11, Shullsburg, WI 535861
  2. Hook’s Cheese  320 Commerce St, Mineral Point, WI 53565
  3. Bleu Mont Dairy 3480 County F, Blue Mounds, Wi 53517
  4. Grumpy Troll  105 South 2nd St, Mt Horeb, WI 53572
After the tour we are going to a Daphne Zepos fundraiser happy hour at Underground Food Collective

Thursday my morning session is about flavors of raw milk cheeses and my afternoon session is about Wisconsin beer and cheese pairings. That evening, I've reserved a spot at Madame Fromage's 7 course cheese dinner and book signing at Osteria Papavero. Whoa. 

Friday I have an afternoon cheese course on CURDS and Saturday I have a chocolate and cheese pairing course. 

All of my favorite things in four days.

Of course, I'll be tweeting, instagramming and foursquaring the whole way. (Be sure to follow the dairymaids on twitter and instagram as well, as I'll be pulling double duty). 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Coach Farms Giveaway

I was chosen by culture: the word on cheese to write about the first raw milk cheese from Coach Farms in their "My name is..." contest. I had previously tried Coach Farms' (pasteurized) goat cheese during my 31 days of American Cheese Month while I was at Otto Pizzeria in Las Vegas.

I was sent a hefty wedge of the unnamed raw milk goat cheese and you can read my description and experience with it. I also recommend a name, Rawfully Wedded Cheese. Feel free to use that name, your own, or any of the names suggested in the "My name is..." series.

Now the good part: They also gave me a Coach Farms bag with samples: a triple creme, 4oz a sample of pasteurized goat cheese and the raw milk cheese! Here it is in the background behind that beautiful cheese! (uh hi, disclaimer, that's what I was provided for hosting this giveaway).

To win this Coach bag - it is super simple. Like the Queso Queen on Facebook and write on my wall the name you submitted in Culture's contest. If you already like my page, just write your cheese name on the wall. I really, really think "cake" should be in the name - but you can put whatever you'd like. I'll be contacting the winner via Facebook on Sunday. If these cheese samples stay in my fridge any longer, I'm going to eat them.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cheese at Google

Y'all, I went to Google. I'm an internet marketer and just a little obsessed with the search engine, company, culture, you name it.

We went to Charlie's - a large cafeteria at the Googleplex and I picked out the cheesiest things I could find.

It's a bit hard to read (I was trying not to be the obvious non-Googler) but that is Point Reyes Blue Cheese dressing at the salad bar
Cheese pizza sprinkled with great parmesan and a pizza with oyster mushrooms and spinach.

Herbed chevre, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and Polish rye.
Mascarpone Pie (it was Pi Day after all).
Our Google representative told me that the San Francisco office had a full cheese board every day. Google cheesemonger? DREAM JOB!

Baby Shower Cheese Board - Pregnant Friendly Cheeses

The Queso Queen is going to be an Auntie, y'all. My sister-in-law Jenny has done got knocked up and we had a little shower for her and my future niece or nephew. I selected some cheeses made from pasteurized milk for the occasion. On my plate:

  • Cabot Clothbound Cheddar from the Cellars at Jasper Hill (a favorite of Jenny's)
  • Smoked Habanero Cheddar from the Beehive Cheese Company
  • SarVecchio Parmesan crumbles from Sartori
  • an ever popular fig almond cake
  • Grapes and Potter's Crackers
Baby Shower Cheese Board

No cheese was left!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Houston Texans Playoff Cheese Board

Y'all know how much I love football-themed cheese boards! My beloved Houston Texans had made it into the playoffs again and I had to make a board. They were up against the mighty New England Patriots, so I figured, if the game wasn't enjoyable, at least the cheese would be.

On the cheese plate:

Representing Texas: Latte Da Dairy's Caerphilly
Representing New England: Cabot Clothbound Cheddar
With Olive Oil Taralli, Mill King Texas Cheese Curds, cornichons, roasted hazelnuts and Marcona almonds supporting.

another view (see my sneakers?) I couldn't for the life of me draw Toro:

I pulled these photos off my instagram. If you aren't following me there, you should. It's not all cheese, but there's enough.

Christmas Cheese Board

Well, hi. I have a belated Christmas gift for you!
As mentioned in a previous Christmas Eve cheese post, since I was a child I've left cheese out for Santa instead of cookies. In 2010, it was the Hook's 15 Year Cheddar, in 2011, Rogue's Caveman Blue and this past year it was Challerhocker. Challerhocker is a silky, caramel-y Swiss cheese. I even bought a cheap Santa cheese knife at Walgreen's.

I then went back to my hometown and had a Christmas dinner with my boyfriend's family. I was requested to bring cheese, so I created a Christmas Cheese Board. On it:

I normally would have a little more milk variety, but I played toward my audience. It was a hit!
Super cute Christmas picture of the Queso Queen and the Zephyr King (his old internet handle!)