Arethusa Farm Dairy, Bantam
July 21, 2012
Stop. Read that title again. I have a ton of clever title puns on this site and every once in a while I like to give myself a little pat on the back. This is one of those times.
I have three separate Arethusa pages – one for the farm itself, one for their milk and ice cream, and this one: all about the cheese. While the farm is fascinating in its own right (seriously, you should at least skim the page about it, linked at bottom) and the ice cream is definitely delicious, for my dollar, it’s all about the cheese.
In case you’ve stumbled on this page and a) don’t know the story behind Arethusa and b) are too lazy or encumbered to click on the link about that I politely suggest you click on 12 seconds ago, then I’ll help you out. George Malkemus and Anthony Yurgaitis are two guys who just so happen to run the North and South American operations of a little fashion company called Manolo Blahnik who just so happened to buy some land and some cows a few years ago.
Flash forward to 2011 and they had a herd of prize-winning dairy cattle, a staff of experts and a brand new store selling all sorts of dairy products from their beloved cows’ milk. I’ve had 5 kinds of their cheese and they are all excellent.
I will say that the 5 I’ve tried have all been quite mild – but also very good, packed with classic and subtle flavor.
When you visit the dairy store, there are usually samples out for you to try. This is how I’ve chowed down on their perfect mozzarella, creamy camembert and tangy farmer’s cheese.
Arethusa doesn’t even attempt to make any stinky or moldy or bold cheeses like some of Connecticut’s best cheesemakersCatocoughCatoCorner.
On our first visit, I picked up some Tapping Reeve – named after one of Litchfield’s most famous former residents of course – because it was named Tapping Reeve. It’s a “velvety-smooth dry-stirred cheese with a sharper taste and creamy, lingering finish. This colonial New England style cheese has an open texture and a mouthwatering richness.”
It was very good. I made these little mini grilled cheeses with it (with bread from Bantam Bread Company across the street – a must visit if you go to Arethusa) and Hoang and I ate them for three straight meals.
On another visit I picked up some of their Europa cheese. “A hardy, earthy cheese similar to a washed curd cheese from the meadows of Western Europe. Aged 6 months.” Delicious again.
And again I made awesome little grilled cheeses with BBC bread. It never gets old.
Arethusa’s cheeses are made with Arethusa milk from Arethusa cows. They are very proud of their cleanliness and adherence to traditional methods. I’ve spent a lot of time writing about the farm and their methods on the other pages, so really, you’ll forgive me for not doing so again here.
In the years since we first visited, Arethusa has added a high end restaurants and a deli – high end again, of course.
Over the next few years I have a feeling I’ll be enjoying more Arethusa cheeses, but from what I have read, they all sort of fall into the same “mild” category. One thing about both chunks I have bought is that they both dried out before we finished with them.
I guess that’s what happens to this kind of product? I don’t know, but it seems like the are inedible after just a few days. Which is fine, I guess, because that just means we have to eat more faster.
I’m down with that.