First we visited the St. Benoit Yogurt facility on John Mattos' ranch, where the small herd of 500 Jersey cows give a creamy, high-butterfat milk that is perfect for yogurt making. We crowded into the tiny St. Benoit Yogurt facility in groups to watch the crew make the day's yogurt. They get milk fresh at 6:30 am and have a short window to culture it and pour it in their signature crocks and jars. Benoit de Korsak and his wife Kristina were wonderful hosts who shared a wealth of insights about the joys and challenges of running a small artisan food business. And we got to pet a group of darling "teenage" cows.
We got on the bus and wound our way over to Achadinha Cheese Co., where Donna and Jim Pacheco and their four children run both a goat ranch and an artisan cheese business. We got to spend time in the milking parlor and the loafing barn, where around half of the Pachecos' herd of 1600 kept us entertained with head butting, alfalfa munching, and other goatish antics.
Donna was excited to show off her new cheese facility; for the last decade she's been renting space to make her Capricious, Broncha, Jaak, and feta, and she's cautiously optimistic about making and selling more cheese now that she has a space for it on the ranch (she also has to sell more pay off the cost of the facility). Achadinha is truly a family-run business; the kids all have serious farm chores, and the two youngest actually help deliver baby goats (we heard all the gory details)!
If you missed it, take a photo tour on Flickr
All photos by Barry Jan.