|Caromont Cave...Red Row raw cows milk|
After donning hairnet, rubber shoes, rubber apron and rubber gloves - I got to work in front of a pan of brine...the cheese wash - in this case, a mixture of local vinegar and water. Using a small delicate brush, and starting with the youngest cheese - each round was carefully brushed to remove surface mold, washed, then flipped and placed back on the shelf to continue aging. The Esmontonian is made in basket-like forms, so there is a lovely 'woven' pattern all over the outside of the cheese round...it's beautiful! The vinegar solution clouds as the youngest cheeses are washed, and it begins to thicken. By the time the oldest cheeses are being washed, it is an almost creamy solution that is somehow beautiful. It coats the cheese rounds, and you just know that in that perfect humidity and temperature, good things are going to happen.
Hamilton's at First & Main. Point is, I think the cheese is so lovely because there are such lovely people nurturing it! Gail says she thinks it helps that the goats are milked about 10 feet from the cheese making room...the milk doesn't travel - talk about local food!
I will be acting as affineuse as often as I can - it was a wonderful, peaceful experience. The photos below are of the Red Row in the foreground, the Esmontonain on the back shelves, and the Tinto (the very dark rind cheese) in the bottom picture. That cheese is washed in red wine(!) and my new favorite. Maybe next time that one will be on my list to care for!
And now for the really cool news...if you've visited all the wineries, but you still like coming back to Charlottesville - you can work with the cheese at Caromont for a day! Washing takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from about 9am til sometime after lunch. The Friday worker gets lunch cooked by Gail! We are still putting the package together - breakfast early at High Meadows, we will send you to Caromont with a picnic, and you will get a tour of the dairy and instructions for the day. Back to High Meadows for a massage, and a cheese tray to taste all the goodies from Caromont. Email us if you are interested - it's a once in a lifetime experience!
|Caromont Cave...Red Row (foreground) Esmontonian (background)|
|Caromont Cave...Tinto - raw goats milk|