Today’s blog post is a collaboration between Mamma Parla and me and the story goes way back. When I was home in September, we met Linda of Ciao Chow Linda at the West Windsor Community Farmers’ Market where we hatched a plan of them going out to visit Cherry Grove Farm, the market’s main cheese vendor located a short distance away. I went back to Rome and they went off to the farm. Last week, Mamma Parla and I visited the farm together. These are our stories:
Mamma Parla: Late last fall I took a field trip with Linda to Cherry Grove Farm. We had a wonderful tour with Stacey Genitle, whose breadth of knowledge and enthusiasm was impressive. It was October, nearing the end of the dairy season, and they were making brie. We watched Kelly, the head cheese maker, stir the pre-brie liquid in a huge vat.
We also visited the caves, temperature controlled rooms where Cherry Grove’s cheeses are aged on racks. The caves were stacked floor to ceiling with cheeses of varying age and color. We also walked around the farm to the pen with the goats and checked out the milking facility where around 40 of the nearly 100 cows are milked daily at 4pm sharp.
On a subsequent trip to the farm with my father, we timed our visit to coincide with milking time. The cows marched in in an orderly fashion and took the same places they take every day, we were told. They were fed an afternoon snack while the machines are being prepared and they then the milking procedure began.
Between the milking facility and the cheese making room, there is a Farm Store where cheese, cured meats, and local artisanal food is sold. They also sell eggs from the free range chicken on the property. The pork sold in the shop comes from the pigs that live on the back of the farm property.
KP: On Wednesday, after the NJ Agriculture Convention, Mamma Parla and I finally visited Cherry Grove together. Stacey took us to visit the pregnant goats, many of which seemed wider than they were tall. Apparently goats gestate two kids at a time; cows have just one calf.
Sam, one of the cheese makers, gave me a tour of the caves, told me about the styles he makes and talked about the aging process and its various stages for each cheese.
Later, Stacey took me to take a peek at the cows, a mixture of shorthorns and jersey cattle. They were munching away on the grass–it hadn’t yet snowed–and lumbering through the field near the farm shop. They won’t be milked til the spring, nor will the goats, and I look forward to visiting then and pitching in with some cheese making. Mamma Parla is looking forward to getting her hands on some whey for making ricotta.
In the meantime, you can find Cherry Grove cheese at the Farm store, at farmer’s markets and shops across the Tri State Area and on their Online Store. From spring until November, you can visit the farm and watch cheese being made. Cherry Grove is lcoated at 3200 Lawrenceville Road (Rt. 206 N.) in Lawrenceville, NJ.