How food is made and where it comes from is always fascinating for me to learn about. Recently, I literally watched the cows come in to be milked on a trip to a family owned and run BC cheese farm, Kootenay Alpine Cheese Co.
Their farm dog guided the herd, with very full udders, into the barn, where the cows are milked twice daily, and receive a hay mixture / treat before each milking. It sounds simple, but this routine is a big process and amazing to witness.
Smelling the mountain air and hearing cow bells jingle, we suddenly had a craving for cheese and headed to the cheese shop for some samples.
The Kootenay Alpine Cheese company makes three cheeses named Nostrala, Alpindon, and Mountain Grana, respectively, each with a slightly stronger taste and firmer texture. After seeing the cows that produce the milk that makes the cheese, the flavour experience was certainly heightened.
Later I was able to ask Denise a few questions about her family’s farm; and I learned some interesting facts that just might aMOOse you too…
The cows enjoy their treat just before milking.
How did your cheese farm start? We started making cheese three years ago but have been dairy farming for about 20.
What does your family love most about your farm? We all get satisfaction from farming the way we do and we like to see it reflected in the end product.
How many cows approximately do you have at your farm? We milk ~75 cows and then have about that many again that are young stock and dry cows (on vacation from milking for two months)
How much milk does each of your cows produce in a day? Our cows produce about 60 pounds of milk each a day (24 litres each).
What separates you from other local cheese farmers? We are the only certified organic dairy in our area, we are the only ones in our area that intensively graze, we feed a high forage, low grain ration and no corn silage. We have gone away from large high producing pure bred Holsteins and experimented with cross breeding to come up with a herd well suited to organic production (high fertility and health traits and good production on forage)…. Our cheese is unique in that it is a raw milk, naturally aged cheese.
Is there a story behind the names of each of your cheeses? Nostrala means “local cheese” in some Italian dialects so we chose it to reflect our area. “Alpindon” means Alpine Gift to reflect the traditions of Alpine Cheese making. And Mountain
Nostrala cheese served with gently salted rosemary crackers. Yum is the word.
Grana because it is a hard grainy cheese.
Where can Vancouver folks buy your cheese? les amis du FROMAGE and Benton Bros distribute for us.
It can be easy to forget where things come from when grocery shopping in the city, perhaps an out of sight out of mind concept, but this cheese is milked and made in BC! So the next time you indulge on some cheese, maybe to pair with a new wine, I suggest this organic handcrafted mountain cheese made in the Kootenays!