Green Dirt Farm
The Slow Food Kansas City chapter visited Green Dirt Farm on a Sunday afternoon in mid-April to tour the farm, learn about the farm’s operations, and sample several of Green Dirt’s signature cheeses with wine and beer pairings. We learned how the farm originated and expanded due to the hard work of the co-owners, farm manager Jacqueline Smith (pictured at right) and cheese maker Sarah Hoffman, and key staff including event coordinator and host Tony Glamcevski.
The educational tour provided a connection between the sheep, the terroir of the farm’s land and foliage, the active management and production cycle, and the award-winning cheese.
Seeing how the cheese was made and learning about its origins truly brought the concept of farm to table into focus. The cheese served at the tasting included a rosemary flavored soft sheep’s milk cheese. The cheese, which is soft and fresh with a shorter shelf life, is ideal for blending in ingredients such as rosemary, chilis, nettle, and garden herbs. The soft cheese have delicate taste profiles compared to other cheeses like Woolly Rind and Dirt Lovers produced at the farm.
As the year progresses, different grazing material plays a more prominent role in the sheep’s diet. In turn, the milk will yield cheeses that have subtly different qualities from batch to batch, week to week.
Slow Food KC member Jamie Milks elaborates: One unique aspect of grass-fed milk is the flavor and chemical structure of the milk changes based on the changing diet of the animals who are producing the milk. The sheep are eating whatever grasses are growing in the current season and those flavors will shine through in their milk. This means throughout the year the cheeses will develop different flavors highlighting the season in which the milk it was made from was produced.
Check out the pretty ladies below relaxing on a hillside for our viewing pleasure. Normally, they would be grazing elsewhere but it was too muddy on the tour day to walk the path to the pasture and see the sheep in action.
The tour concluded with a tasting in an intimate setting. This building features many reclaimed architectural elements from the stained glass windows and frame to wood used to build the structure. Not only does it represent the farm’s philosophy to reuse and recycle materials where it can, but this event space is a dramatic yet cozy setting for numerous people to gather.
The farm’s famous Farm Table dinner series, which is nearly sold out, is hosted here. The space features an open air kitchen only a few feet away from the dining table, once again connecting farm and chef to the diner in an integrated experience.
On this day, we tasted several courses including
Course One: Rosemary Fresh Farmstead Cheese* paired with Domaine Merlin-Cherrier, Sancerre Blanc, reflecting the chalky terroir of Bué, a hamlet in the village of Sancerre.
*2009 American Cheese Society Competition Winner
Fresh is a spreadable cheese that highlights the wonderful clean, grassy, flavors of our milk.
Course Two: Woolly Rind* paired with Pinot Blanc Reserve produced by Albert Seilz in Mittelbergheim, located in the Alsace region of France.
*2010 American Cheese Society Competition winner
A classic Camembert style cheese. It has a lovely edible white bloomy rind that is sometimes mottled with flecks of tan, blue or orange as the cheese ages. The cheese has a firm body and flavors of milk and grass when it is young. At the peak of ripeness, the cheese becomes runny at room temperature. It develops a lovely forest floor aroma and buttery, mushroomy flavors with a natural sweetness to the rind.
Course Three: Dirt Lover* cheese pair with Boulevard Brewing Company’s Tank 7 beer.
*2010 American Cheese Society Competition winner
This cheese is styled after classic ash-dusted French farmhouse cheeses. It has an edible white bloomy rind that reveals the underlying layer of vegetable ash. In spring, the cheese is often firm and dense with a nuttiness that is balanced by the savory note imparted by the ash. In summer, the cheese is firm when young and develops a beautiful creamy ring just under the ash layer which expands as the cheeses ages. It makes a lovely presentation on a cheese plate.
At this Slow Food KC event, we were able to purchase cheese on the premises (while supplies lasted!). Green Dirt Farm cheese is available at several of the farmers markets around Kansas City as well as retail outlets and restaurants. Their cheese is also available for sale online.
At home, Pam Taylor and I sample some of the cheeses we purchased. The fresh cheese dubbed Firecracker exhibited mild heat from the chilis folded into the cheese. The Nettle carries mild grassy notes reflective of the early spring season when the sheep are grazing on tender new growth. The Woolly Rind and Dirt Lover are both favorites that we savored slowly. A little great artisan cheese goes a long way toward satisfying our appetite.
For a more thorough account of the trip, visit http://www.slowfoodkc.org/?p=253.