*Put on your Golden Girls hats and follow me, here…*
Picture it: Sicily, 1943. I was walking down the streets with your father, and we decided to stop by our favorite little café for a sandwich. Louis had been in there all morning baking the most amazing bread that had sun-dried tomatoes and basil, and…. oh, the cheese. It was the most amazing, tangy, fresh, creamy cheese you ever had. We asked if Louis would just grill the two together, and he obliged. It was heaven on a plate! Crispy, creamy, snappy…unlike any nasty, processed old grilled cheese you let my grandchildren eat today. Then Louis stepped to the side a bit, and we saw his assistant behind the counter — a cow named Bessie! She mooed loudly. Louis said she was asking how we liked the cheese, as she had tried extra hard that day…
Mom, you’re making that up!
Why, yes, I was making that up, but it was based on reality. The bread was made last week by Shane Henderson at Argenta Market (profile on them another day), and the amazing cheese was made by the Daley family of Daley Dairy, makers of Honeysuckle Lane Raw Milk Cheese in Rosebud. And yes, the sandwich was real. And it was amazing.
As I have said earlier, I’m using the Argenta Certified Arkansas Farmers’ Market to learn more about whole foods and add more of them to my diet. This past Saturday, I added white cheddar raw milk cheese to my repertoire, purchased from Daley Dairy’s tent.
When I purchased the cheese, it didn’t even dawn on me what “raw milk” meant. But after a bit of research on the dairy’s website and elsewhere, I have learned that it basically means the cheese is not pasteurized. As Ray Daley, Jr. states on the farm’s website:
We all grew up hearing that “pasturized” was a great thing. And it is. But sometimes, there are better ways.
Pasteurization kills the potentially harmful bacteria in milk, but it also kills the good bacteria, those that help with digestion and even some that kill other bad bugs. It also reduces vitamin content and other goodies such as CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which contributes to lean muscle development.
This is a huge battle between the naysayers and those who claim significant health benefits from using raw milk, one that I won’t get into right this minute. As a new user, I can’t really speak to the subject with expertise. But it is generally accepted that cheese made from raw milk is safe, under very specific conditions as outlined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Raw Milk Cheese Association defines the product simply:
Cheese produced from milk that, prior to setting the curd, has not been heated above the temperature of the milk (104°F, 40°C) at the time of milking and that the cheese produced from that milk shall be aged for 60 days or longer at a temperature of not less than 35°F (2°C) in accordance with US FDA regulations.
All that to say, Daley Dairy’s cheese is safe, for several reasons:
- The cows are grass-fed and pastured, meaning they are much less susceptible to disease and do not require all the antibiotics given stall-raised cows. Their diet also makes milk that is safer and more stable.
- The dairy only sells semi-firm cheeses (colby and cheddars), which are very stable when properly treated.
- They vacuum-pack the cheeses immediately and age them in cold storage for at least 60 days.
All that talk about safety has gotten me away from the subject at hand. This cheese is just darn tasty! It has a slightly different crumb, so to speak, than your average cheese; an excellent mix of firmness and creaminess. And I really enjoyed the tang brought from the cultured raw milk (good bacteria that wasn’t killed) and the vegetable rennet used to create the cheese. Hubby and I had a hankering the other day for a good ol’ grilled cheese sandwich, and we had a little of the aforementioned bread left over. Grill pan + butter + amazing, locally made bread + equally amazing, locally made cheese = WOW!
As hubby would say, dip that in your tomato soup and eat it.
Game time! How about a quiz?