Over the years I have come to trust that technology is good for some things and not so good for others…but in the realm of connecting with folks that share your same passions- well I am ever so grateful for Facebook for that.
I was finally able to meet up with Phyllis Knudson and her husband Joe Millman from Vancouver. Phyllis has a wonderful blog that I am sure you will enjoy checking out, it is Oracibo. And Joe is a photographer that takes some wonderful photos, and of course I am always partial to the Italian ones:)
The first evening we dined at our home and indulged ourselves in wonderful cheeses, wines, food, and conversation. It was such a treat and honor to have them over and enjoy 4-5 pleasurable hours of just being together.
The next day we headed out to a local cheesemaker that is only 10 minutes away from our home. Since my first visit to the Wavrin family’s The Ferndale Farmstead I have loved who they are, what they do, and how they do it. Their motto is:
seed in our soil
to the grass in our fields
to feed our cows
that we milk to make the cheese on your table
It is a welcoming farmstead that is always in the pursuit of delivering a true artisan Italian cheese. Their journey into the world of Italian cheeses began with a meeting with Italian cheesemaker Raffaele Mascolo who guided and mentored them on their way to producing these lovely traditional cheeses.
These cheeses are traditional Italian family specialties made using American milk to give you a taste-of-place like no other. We think you will find them distinct from other cheeses you find in the market. With Raffaele’s help and connection to his homeland, we have been blessed with much support and input from Italy. This includes special cultures and enzymes from a small culture house there, input from Italian scientists and artisans, and fine equipment manufactured there to help us make these cheeses.
We were greeted by the young and impressionable Daniel Wavrin. After donning our booties, hoodies, and gowns we entered…as Daniel said upon our entering ‘we just made a fresh batch of scamorza’, so we were hit by racks of day old scamorza and their most wonderful aroma.
Each scamorza is shaped and tied by hand, and left to dry till they are deemed ready…by chance I did ask Daniel what a day old scamorza taste like, so we sampled some and of course we were all pleasantly surprised by it!
Daniel then led us into the first cave and we were greeted again by a whole new aroma that of the traditional farmhouse cheese often found in rural central Italy…the caciotta. The Caciotta is a semi-aged cheese that offers a mild flavor that will improve with time. And, their caciotta was just listed among the top 10 best cheeses made in the Pacific Northwest this past fall at the annual cheese festival in Portland!!!
After this we made our way into the room where it all happens- a room of pure Italian efficiency…all the machinery is sparkling clean stainless steel and almost all of it originated from Italy! In this room the cheesemakers converge to transform their own farm-milk into the cheese we love.
After this we ventured into the second cave and were immediately bathed in the aroma of aging asiago pressa and fontina…wow, this room is perfect! I loved the first cave with the younger cheeses, but this room captivated my olfactory system. What I love about their asiago is that they only age it for 2-3 months, providing a semi-firm bite that really highlights the local grassy terroir!
After all was said and done we ventured back to the front office and enjoyed fresh samples of their scamorza, caciotta, and their fior di latte lightly drizzled with some wonderful piqual oil! I personally love their firo di latte because it is made with the cultures and enzymes, and this allows for a wonderful melting of the cheese on our margherita pizzas and baked pasta dishes!!!
And our wonderful host Daniel sent us home with samples…to test in the kitchen!
After that we ventured into Bellingham for some great European sandwiches at the Old World Deli- a go to place for me when I need a little something extra for the kitchen:)
And a special thanks to Phyllis and Joe for coming down for the tour.
Keep on venturing out into the fields and bringing home those wonderful, nurturing ingredients and products!
Grazie e Ciao!