Intro: Road trip with The Cheese Queen
Ricki came with me on this trip “over the mountains and through the woods” to the farm in western MA. We knew about Cricket Creek from American Cheese Society Competitions where they have won many awards, but neither of us had ever been there. We were looking forward to tasting some really, really good cheese!
It was a cold winter day, so we were pleasantly surprised to discover a coffee shop and general store right down the road from the farm (The Store at 5 Corners). I snapped a photo of Ricki having a cup of tea:
Our Gracious Hostess
Beth Lewand, the Operations Manager of the farm, showed us around and answered all our questions. In a previous lifetime, she owned a cheese shop in Brooklyn, NY. (We’ll be interviewing her about that soon!)
She told us there are a total of 10 staff members, including 3 apprentices, although everyone wasn’t working that day. Topher Sabot is the owner/farm manager. He oversees the livestock, pastures and business aspects of the farm. Emily Cordner is the assistant farm manager.
The Spectacular Grounds
The farm is situated on 500 magnificent acres overlooking the mountains.
A stone barn on the property was rebuilt in 2015, and, now, weddings are held there in the summer. (For more information- The Barn at Cricket Creek Farm)
The Lovable Cows
There are currently 38 cows being milked – a mix of 4 breeds: Jerseys, Holsteins, Brown Swiss and Milking Devonshire.
Their “Big Box” Farm Store
Open 7 days a week from 7am-7pm, this is one of the best-stocked farm stores ever! It has viewing windows to watch the cows being milked and to see the cheese being made.
They sell raw milk and, of course, their own cheeses.
Real Raw Milk
The milk is piped directly from the milking room to the bulk milk tank.
Cheese makers, Mulligan and Nicholas Kimberly were making Hillside cheese and Sophelise.
Hillside is a fresh, unripened cheese with herbs. They make it on Wednesday, salt it on Thursday, let it dry for a day, and add the herbs. They sell this cheese at 4 winter markets, but not wholesale or online.
Sophelise is a small format washed rind, aged for 30-40 days. At day 30, it’s washed with bourbon from Berkshire Mountain Distillers, a local producer. B. Linens in the wash give it an orangey color.
The labels hang outside the make room.
If you try hard, you can see the viewing windows in back. (My camera didn’t adjust very well to the steam.)
There is a refrigerator in the make room, so, of course, we had a little taste of the finished products.
Two Caves (No Bats!)
1. Aging Maggie’s Round
This is the farm’s “signature” cheese – semi-firm, raw milk, Alpine-inspired. It won 1st place in it’s category at the ACS Competition in 2011 and 2nd place in 2014. It’s aged 4-9 months. When it’s aged longer (12-18 months) it becomes Maggie’s Reserve. Maggie’s Reserve won a 1st place ribbon at the 2012 ACS Competition.
2. Aging Tobasi, Berkshire Bloom, Feta and Sophelise
Tobasi is a Taleggio inspired washed rind cheese, aged 2-4 months. It won the 2016 Yankee Magazine Food Editors Choice Award
Berkshire Bloom is a Camembert-style bloomy rind. When ripe, each wheel weighs 9 ounces.
Cricket Creek Farm
1255 Oblong Rd.
Williamstown, MA 01267
Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown, MA
Nestled in the foothills of western MA, this farm is the source of several award-winning cheeses-Maggie’s Round, Maggie’s Reserve, Tobasi and Berkshire Bloom.