Les Dames is a group of professional women in the food and beverage industry. That all sounds well and good -- and a bit stuffy -- but let me tell you, this is a group of interesting, talented and fun women.
Monday's meeting and tour was at Mackenzie Creamery in Hiram.
Jean Mackenzie was our hostess. I asked several times if I could move in -- her home and farm are beautiful -- but she was quite vague with her response. I'll take that as a no.
If you're ever invited to attend a potluck meeting with several of Cleveland's top chefs, food writers, wine distributors and food lovers in attendance, jump at the opportunity.
The food was outstanding, ranging from buffalo chicken dip to an assortment of Mackenzie Creamery's goat cheeses. I am definitely going to have to up my cooking game if I'm going to be part of this group!
I had the chance to try some of Brad and Angelina's wine.
Yes, THAT Brad and Angelina. Who knew they made wine. How DO they do it all, between their busy work schedules, charity obligations and the 4,000 kids.
Surprisingly, the wine, made in Provence, was quite good. It's a rose and was perfect for a Summer's meeting on a beautiful farm.
After the meeting, we toured the creamery and got an up-close-and-personal look at the cheese making operation.
Jean is very scientific and exacting about making cheese and you can tell it is her passion.
We sampled some ricotta that was made that day.
The walk-in cooler was full of cheese orders that were being sent out the next day.
I tried to sneak a box or two out, but that was frowned upon.
Mackenzie cheese can be found in numerous locations throughout Ohio and the Midwest.
If you are looking for ways to support small, local businesses and your local farmer, this is certainly one tasty way to do it.
Good gracious folks, we're eight days into National Honey Month and I haven't heard how you've been celebrating this wonderful time of the year!
That's right. Honey is so valued that it has an entire month all to itself. Think of it. Eggs are every bit as tasty and naturally good for you as honey, but the egg only has one day to celebrate (Oct. 14th).
So lets give a great big shout out to the bees that make honey possible.
They've been working their magic all season long. Dare I say it: they have been as busy as a bee working for you. (Forgive me. It was too easy and I had to do it. I apologize.)
We are a nation of honey-lovers. Americans consume about one and a half pounds of honey per person each year. Not hard to do when you consider that there are more than 300 varieties of honey in this country alone.
We harvest raw, wildflower honey.
And it is scrumpdillyicious.
We are selling it for $4.50 for 4 oz., $8 for 8 oz., and $15 for 16 oz.
If you've never seen honey being harvested, make plans to join us on Saturday, September 24 for "Meet the Beekeepers." Watch them extract the frames, cut the wax off to upcap the honey, spin the frames and then filter and bottle the honey.
And if you're looking for more ways to add a little honey to your life, try Honey with Goat Cheese.
Your friends will be impressed with you when you whip up this little appetizer. Put a round of goat cheese in an oven-proof dish, drizzle a bit of honey over the top, add a handful of chopped walnuts and heat it in the oven at 350 degrees until the honey and cheese are both soft. Put out a basket of crackers with this dish and grab the earplugs. You'll need them to deal with all the people singing your praises!
(Note to our produce CSA members. Next year, we're adding a goat cheese share to the CSA. But don't tell anybody. You'll be able to order your favorite goat cheese variety each week or every other week. But for now, shhhh! It's our little secret.)
So celebrate National Honey Month. Heck, dress up like a bee if you feel like it. Honey deserves the attention.
I loved field trips as a kid. Trips to the zoo, museums and farms were something to look forward to. It was all good . . . except for the bus ride. Bouncing around in the back of that big, yellow bus made me a bit queasy. I was NOT the kid you wanted to sit next to.
But field trips as an adult, now that's another story. I get to travel by non-bouncy car. I don't need a chaperone. (That might be a debatable point, but that's another story!) And I get to pick the destination and time I go.
So it was with much excitement that I took myself on a field trip this past week to Lake Erie Creamery in Cleveland.
Lake Erie Creamery is a small, urban creamery on the near westside of Cleveland. They make artisan goat's milk cheese . . . and I am addicted.
In fact, their cheese is so good, Mitchell's Homemade Ice Cream (another local company!) is using it to make their out-of-this-world-fabulous Chevre Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream.
Cheese. Strawberries. Cream. Those are three awfully beautiful words, especially when combined.
For our CSA members, we're including a 4 ounce container of the creamery's Fresh Chevre in their first basket of the season.
The Chevre is made fresh every week, in small batches, and gently pasteurized. Put a little on a cracker with perhaps a small drizzle of honey over it and this cheese will knock your socks off. (Yes, I know its Summer and most people aren't wearing socks, but "Knock Your Sandles Off" doesn't have the same ring so we're going with socks here.)
They also make an incredible feta that cries out for a Greek salad.
And an aged Caerphilly, with its mild and buttery flavor that originated in Welsh farmhouses.
On field trips, you get to sample the merchandise, and sample I did. I was guilt free as I considered it research. After all, I couldn't very well write about their cheese if I hadn't "sampled" it first. It wouldn't be unethical, and we wouldn't want that. Through my research, I can tell you that the Caerphilly goes very well with grapes, strawberries and a local beer. Research is a wonderful thing.
When we open the farm stand later this month, we will occasionally carry a variety of the creamery's cheeses. If you need a cheese fix before then, you can go to their website for a listing of retailers.
Fresh, local and delicious -- it was an excellent field trip.