August 20, 2013 -
“OHIO’S CHEESE INDUSTRY IS VERY EXCITING RIGHT NOW!” shouts Jean Mackenzie over the hum of a bus carting 25 people down I-71 in route to three Ohio creameries. Edible Cleveland‘s first food tour is designed to shine the light on exactly what makes Ohio cheese so enticing, such as…
- Nationally ranked, award-winning artisan cheese makers.
- Consumer demand** opening new doors for cheese makers in local grocers, shops and restaurants.
- New organizations, like the Ohio Cheese Guild, that strengthen the cheese making community through support, education, and promotion.
Our journey started at Yellow House Cheese, the 4-acre farmstead creamery of a young family, who live in a…
Forty sheep are milked twice every day to produce rich varieties of blue cheese. Did you know that it takes about two minutes to milk a sheep, one for each teat? Each sheep yields about a quart of milk a day, and it takes about 4 gallons of milk to make a wheel of cheese. Also, sheep teats don’t take holiday so, if you’re a sheep farmer, you can’t either.
Next stop? Kokoborrego!
Isn’t that a cool name? Say it out loud and it rolls right off your tongue. And if you think that’s fun, wait until you try their product. It makes your mouth sing. Three staple cheeses: Owl Creek Tomme (a 2012 ACS award winner), Headwaters Tomme, and Moraine all make the rounds on the Spice cheese plate.
It’s particularly awesome that Lisa & Ben Sippel, along with cheese maker Ben Baldwin, have been in the cheese business for less than three years and they’re already winning national awards. Other fun facts about Kokoborrego:
- It’s Ohio’s first licensed sheep milk dairy.
- The name is derived from a stream that flows through the property (Koko) and the Spanish word for sheep.
- The creamery sits on 77 acres, where produce is grown and sold through CSA’s at the Columbus markets.
- They started crafting cheese three years ago as a way to smooth production and cash flow over the course of the year.
Because they’re located toward the mid-ish section of the state, Kokoborrego mostly sells at the Columbus markets. But you can find them at various restaurants and shops around Cleveland, including Earthfare.
Following our lovely lunch, we headed over to Osage Lane Creamery, in Pataskala, Ohio, about 20 miles from Columbus. Here we met Emma Stout and her husband, who share their 2-acres of land with 90 goats that produce enough milk for two primary lines of cheese: Feta and Danish Hanson.
The Stouts spoke with great pride about evolving their business over the years to accommodate economic shifts. They sold milk to other creameries for quite some time, and when their largest customer fell through, they turned to cheese making themselves, building their facility from scratch. Here are a few interesting points of note:
- There is a strict separation between milking goats and making cheese; these two jobs are never swapped in the same day to avoid contamination in the facility.
- One of the greatest business expenses is ongoing testing to assure regulators that the cheese is safe at various stages of its 60-day aging period.
- Most folks enjoy savory flavors of feta, but it can also be enjoyed sweet when infused with fruits and citrus.
- Smoked Hanson is delicious.
As our group scanned the fields for the goats, Emma clarified that they were divas, preferring to stay inside after a rain.
Unfortunately, we don’t have easy access to Osage cheeses as they only sell within a three county region surrounding their farm. This may change in the future as word spreads about their products.
Stay in touch with our cheese community! Join the Ohio Cheese Guild Facebook page for updates on these creameries and others in our great state.
**And, be sure to ask your favorite stores and chefs for more Ohio cheese options – we should all have ample access to the best our local artisans have to offer.
Editor’s note: We’d like to extend a special thanks to Noelle Celeste and Jon Benedict of Edible Cleveland for planning this event, and tour guide Jean Mackenzie of Mackenzie Creamery for entertaining and enlightening us along the way.
Edible Cleveland has more food tours in the works! Where would you like to go? Post your ideas here or on their Facebook page.
Posted in: Spice Acres
May 27, 2013 -
This writer has never liked chickens. Chicken salad, yes. Buffalo chicken wraps, sure. Chicken soup for the soul, fine. But real, live, cluckin’, crappin’ hens? They can go suck an egg. So when Chef Ben Bebenroth started his chicken coop search for Spice Acres Suburbia, he had some convincing to do first.
“They’ll fertilize the crops with high-nitrogen poop for the compost.”
“They eat a lot of pests – ticks, grasshoppers, bugs.”
“We can save money on eggs at the restaurant.”
“The eggs will be more nutritious.”
Upon winning the chicken battle on the home front, he proceeded to build his coop out of leftover wood from the old Spice Kitchen + Bar patio fence.
Ten chickens (courtesy of Brunty Farms) arrived in the winter and instantly made themselves at home. The coop gave them shelter from 2012 blizzards and they huddled up to keep warm enough to produce up to eight eggs a day!
As the days warmed, they’ve preferred to roam around the yard. Fortunately, the neighbors have been very understanding.
They stay within a three-yard radius and head over to the trees to roost at around 7:00 every night.
The only problem with free-roam chickens is that every day is an egg hunt. Eggs are found in the funniest places.
Granted, it took some time, but these hens can really grow on you. They eat grains, moldy bread, and any random bug morsel they can scratch up in the yard…and then magically transform it into a protein-rich meal.
They coo and bawk, and follow you around.
They sneak up on you when you least expect it.
Also, kids dig ‘em.
The other thing about chickens is that they’re damn photogenic. At the risk of boring our instagram followers to tears, we can’t stop posting filtered photos of the chickens in strategic positions in and around the house.
So, at the end of the day, maybe chickens aren’t so bad. They’ve become entertaining, egg producing little creatures who have earned their place as valuable members of the suburban farm family. Look for their work on the Spice Kitchen + Bar spring menu!
Posted in: Spice Acres
Tags: Chicken Problems, Chicken Solutions
May 20, 2013 -
Summer’s almost here, folks! And with it – outdoor entertaining season. Are you ready? You might have your grill menu all figured out, but what about the party punch? In the hot summer months, few things are more refreshing than an icy cocktail that keeps the party cool and the conversations flowing.
In that department, our Bar Manager, Dave Hridel, has you covered. Sure, you can come enjoy our farm-to-bar cocktails on the Spice patio anytime…
…but if you’d like to DIY our drink list for your next patio party, we can help you there too!
Introducing our Farm-to-Bar cocktail classes, where you’ll learn learn THREE different cocktails with ONE seasonal ingredient, including practical tips + tricks that you can take home to truly impress your guests.
Weather permitting, we’ll host our summer series classes on the patio. You’ll enjoy an entertaining tutorial on three preparations, followed by a largish sample of each cocktail, and some small plates to snack on.
Each class will have its own seasonal fruit theme:
June 23rd: Strawberries
July 21st: Blackberries
August 25th: Peaches
September 29th: Apples
…and feature herbs from our edible landscaping.
Why not learn a little something new while you drink? Join us for one or more of our Farm-to-Bar cocktail classes. Classes are $40 and space is limited – call 216.961.9637 to reserve your seats!