This holiday season we can express our gratitude and appreciation for our local New England artisans by incorporating some of their fine products into our celebrations and festivities. These are small businesses that support their local economies and in many instances, preserve open spaces, still the best antidote to urban sprawl. Over the last several decades artisanal cheese makers in New England have steadily increased the number of wonderful cheeses that now rival their European counterparts for quality and taste. In his classic book, Guide du Fromage, Pierre Androuet states that: “Every region has its own special magic which chemistry and technology have thus far been unable to duplicate. Vegetation, climate, rainfall, subsoil and animal breed all contribute to the production of a cheese which is unique and inimitable.” Here in New England we are blessed with a climate and topography conducive to the growth of lush pastureland that is the essence of dairy farming and cheese making. Why settle for a generic cheese and cracker tray when you can feature the distinctive terroir of New England. Some suggested combinations are:
The Baystate Plate featuring cheeses from Massachusetts:
Westfield Farm (Hubbardston) Capri Plain or Garlic/Herb (goat’s milk)
Westfield Farm Cranberry/Orange Capri (goat’s milk)
Robinson Farm (Hardwick) A Barn Dance (cow’s milk)
Great Hill Dairy (Marion) Great Hill Blue (cow’s milk)
The Green Mountain Ramble highlighting cheeses of Vermont:
Blythedale Farm (Corinth) Blythedale Brie (cow’s milk)
Vermont Shepherd (Westminster West) Verano (sheep’s milk)
Jasper Hill Farm (Greensboro) Weybridge, Willoughby or Harbison (cow’s milk)
Vermont Creamery (Websterville) Cremont (goat and cow’s milk)
Neighborly Farm (Randolph Center) Green Onion Cheddar (cow’s milk)
Skin Care with a Local Flair
Not all the local goat’s milk ends up as cheese. Chad and Terri Steiner of Princeton, Ma. make an all-natural goat’s milk soap they call Elzire’s Acre, scented only with essential botanical oils with no added preservatives. Gina Kalakounis from the Tatnuck area of Worcester is another local artisan making all-natural soaps. Her line, called Gianna’s Organic Soaps, uses a combination of organic oils including coconut and olive oil to create a skin-friendly cleansing experience. To the north in Essex Junction, Vermont, Akshata Nayak is making vegan- friendly skin products. She has graduate degrees in biochemistry and clinical nutrition and formulates her Orange Owl skin products without parabens, phthalates, sulfates or petroleum distillates. Treat your skin to her luxurious body butters, scrubs, bath salts, lip balms and soaps.
Grow Your Own
Although Back to the Roots is based in Oakland, California, their organic produce can be grown (and eaten) right in your own home- even during a New England winter! The Mushroom Farm will provide you with a crop of organic oyster mushrooms in 10 days and the Garden in a Can will get you organic cilantro or basil depending on which one you choose. These are great gifts for children or adults- water, harvest, enjoy- it’s that simple.
We are taking orders for: roasts, turkeys, hams, ducks, game meats, pies and platters.