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Monday, April 18, 2011

Ardith Mae and the "Special, Secret Service" of Goat Cheese

Perhaps, these three kids (in the photograph posted above which is a screen shot of a photograph taken by Michael Poster for the web-site of a well known cheese maker) look familiar to my cheese loving readers, and if not, you definitely will want to get to know these cover girls —  as well as the folks that take care of them: Shereen and Todd —  who do this on their farm in Northern Pennsylvania, a farm they bought after living in Brooklyn and working in the city.  On their farm they allow "animals to be animals" as they most likely realize "girls just wanna have fun . . . "

So, I speculate that because Shereen and Todd's girls "have year around access to a lightly wooded five acre paddock, and during growing season are rotational grazed/browsed on an additional thirty acres of raspberry, grasses and various saplings" and additionally "are only bred every other year which alleviates the health stress of yearly pregnancy" (I wish my young niece would take this lesson in breeding — she is an unwed mother of three and no father in sight). 

Moreover, Shereen and Todd's goats "are never given hormones or unnecessary antibiotics", and it appears that Shereen and Todd are rewarded with what it takes from a goat to produce a fantastic variety of fresh and raw milk aged cheeses year around, which are enhanced by "local season forage", then packaged beautifully, bearing a label with the name Ardith Mae (for Todd's mother),  a detail appreciated by me, having had a loving grandmother, named Clara May (shown in a photograph in a previous post), as seen below:

After this, Shereen and Todd's reward for their great goat care becomes a cheese lovers' reward, and I was reminded of this when I passed a Greenmarket location where they sell their cheeses on my way home from my Sunday volunteer work that I wrote about yesterday.

This location, known as the Green Flea (the 77th School Flea Market), takes place on Sundays, in New York City, and it spills over from the school yard to the nearby American Museum of Natural History, where along the westside of the museum, at Columbus Avenue, Ardith Mae, with a wonderful assortment of cheeses, (including the selection n the photograph posted below) can be found.

Having Ardith Mae participate in the Green Flea, provides a Sunday haven for Upper Westsiders like myself — especially gardeners who go to this market to pick up annuals (to stick in their gardens amongst their seasoned perennials). It can be pretty chaotic and even competitive getting some plants — especially after a long winter when the natives are restless — so it is nice that greenmarket farmers, such as Ardith Mae, grace the market with their goodies, which often calm even the most disgruntled gardener.

Then again, surely you have heard the saying "get your goat" or "get one's goat", but did you know that (according to the Huffington Post) it "is a twentieth century phrase relating to horse racing? It used to be common practice for goats to be used to keep restless horses under control — they had a calming effect on the horses and they made them all the more race-ready. On race days, goats were stolen ('got') by wiling thieves who, expecting the horse to be distressed by the absence of his bearded friend, would then place a bet and lose. Today, if something or someone gets your goat, it annoys, distresses and irritates you, as if you were a horse whose goat had been stolen." 

If this is true, then perhaps it is no wonder that disgruntled gardeners (or other "normal folks"), are calmed by indulging in Sunday brunch by partaking in a goat-gouda cheese and heirloom tomato omelet served with a Bloody Mary, or by indulging in green olives stuffed with goat cheese that are served with a glass of chilled Obergen, (the Pinot Gris from Germany) at the cocktail hour.

So, if one believes the Huffington Post, then perhaps, dear reader, one could concede that it's not the accompanying beverage which calms the soul, but rather it is the goat, doing his magic of calming (but why do they need to be mutually exclusive?) — a much needed "service" in New York City and I dare say throughout the world.

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