Featured Artisan Cheesemaker: Consider Bardwell Farm
Potash Featured Artisans is a new program of the Potash Markets gourmet cheese department whose intention is to showcase artisan cheesemakers—particularly those from the United States—who our customers may not yet be familiar with. There are hundreds of cheesemakers, located in nearly every state in the nation, and together they are producing thousands of different cheeses. Deciding which of these wonderful cheeses to include in our offerings is a humbling experience. Deciding which to leave behind can be heartbreaking. The Featured Artisan program will allow us to briefly introduce cheeses from lesser known cheesemakers for a limited period. These might be the creations of a newer cheesemaker, or one far from the Midwest whose reputation and distribution are more developed in their own geography than they are here. We will introduce the creamery and its people through a short profile piece on our website, and by featuring three or four of its cheeses in a series, over the course of a few months. We encourage you to follow the program with alerts, or on Potash social media. We also want you to the try the cheeses, of course, and to let us know what you think of them. Customer demand will perhaps lead to some of these cheeses being included on a rotating or permanent basis right next to cheeses like Pleasant Ridge Reserve and L’Amuse Gouda.
Our first Potash Featured Artisan is Consider Bardwell Farm, of West Pawlet, Vt. You may have recently purchased some of the Consider Bardwell’s Goatlet and Pawlet from our cheese department. Our initial experiences with those cheeses, and with the good folks at Consider Bardwell, were the kernels that grew into the Featured Artisan program. Beginning Friday, Feb. 22. we will introduce the first in a series of three additional cheeses from Consider Bardwell. Slyboro is a goat’s milk cheese made from the farm’s own goat milk. It is a washed rind cheese with bold flavors of apple and caramelized onion. We think it’s delicious and we hope you will like it. Stop by for Friday Fromage at 5 when we will break the wheel and put out samples and pairings.
--David Phillips, Potash Markets Cheese Department Manager
Consider Bardwell Farm
Angela Miller and her husband Russ Glover, with Creamery Director Leslie Goff have beenmaking producing award-winning cheeses on their 300-acre farm in the southwest corner of Vermont for nearly 15 years. Their company, Consider Bardwell Farm, is not among the oldest artisan cheese creameries in the region, but its cheeses are among the best. And thanks to the couple’s conservation efforts, the rolling land will remain as pasture land into perpetuity.
Miller and Glover purchased the farm in 2000, moving from New York knowing they wanted to do something having to do with gourmet foods. After considering opening a cheese shop, the focus turned toward the growing community of artisan cheesemakers, and they were making plans to open a creamery on the farm, which had a cheesemaking history.
“We found that it had been the site of the first cheese making cooperative in Vermont (founded by Consider Stebbins Bardwell in 1864) and a light bulb went off, and we thought that would be the thing to do,” Miller says. “We didn’t have elaborate plans. We just wanted to make cheese.”Within a week of Consider Bardwell getting licensed and taking baby steps by making simple fresh cheeses, its products were featured on the tasting menus of Michelin restaurants in New York. New England cheesemaking expert Peter Dixon consulted with Consider Bardwell for several years while the creamery’s lineup of raw milk cheeses was under development. Awards and growth followed, and today the company is one of the more renowned artisan cheese producers and New England, and has begun a broader push to bring its award-winners to more markets in the Midwest and elsewhere.
The farm maintains about 140 goats along with other animals that assist in the rotational maintenance of its pasture land. The milk of the goats is used to make several goat’s milk cheeses, including Manchester and Slyboro. But Pawlet, the creamery’s best-selling cheese, is among a group of cheeses made from the cow’s milk of two adjacent farm neighbors. Those two small herds total about 150 cows. The cows also feed on the Consider Bardwell pastures in an intensive rotational grazing system that replenishes the soil, and helps the creamery maintain its certification as federally-protected grassland. Consider Bardwell is also Animal Welfare Certified, which is perhaps the most important certification a farm-connected creamery can receive.
The cheeses from Consider Bardwell have certain characteristics in common—all are made from raw milk, which can result in more nuanced and complex flavors than with pasteurized milk, and allow for greater expression of unique milk flavors, with the result being a more unique cheese flavor profiles. Most of the cheeses are pressed into woven basket molds which give them an appearance reminiscent of Italian and Spanish cheeses. The lineup includes a blue cheese (802 Blue), an Alpine style (Rupert and Rupert Reserve made in wheels of 18-22 pounds), a washed rind (Slyboro) and the Italian-inspired Danby.
The American Cheese Society Judging, held each year since 1983, attracts thousands of entries each year from all parts of North America. Last year Consider Bardwell took four ACS awards for four of its cheeses.