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Scardello Cheese Tour

#1 User is offline   Worzel_Gummidge 

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Posted 14 June 2009 - 07:38 PM

Rich and Karen Rogers, owners of Scardello Artisan Cheese in Oak Lawn thought they might get 20, maybe 25, customers to spend a day visiting local cheese makers and learning about the production process. This was the first time they had done anything of this sort and they would be deep in the hole financially and in terms of cred’ with the producers if the tour arrived empty.

They need not have worried. A total of 58 signed up, requiring last minute turndowns and the rental of the largest coach that could make its way into the sometimes tight paths and entrances. We left NorthPark parking lot before 9am for the two hour drive to Veldhuizen Family Farm just outside Dublin (original home of Dr. Pepper!).
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Stuart Veldhuizen explained that his family had turned to cheese after becoming disillusioned with the falling price of milk as greater hormonal additives increased supply in a nation that was not drinking more. Their aim is to make raw-milk cow’s cheese from a herd that is allowed to roam and eat the grass in the pasture rather that feed on shipped in foodstuff. They currently milk about 50 cattle and plan to stay at a scale that the family can manage. That means that they are close to capacity. They already make 10 cheeses and plan to add only a few more. For brevity I will mention just my two favorites.

Bosque Blue is a cheese I have blogged about before here. Its name derives from its county of origination.
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An off-white to yellow creamy blue cheese aged 6 months with a taste most reminiscent of Stilton or Shropshire Blue. The creaminess is the factor it has in common. Compare it with a Roquefort or Gorganzola and notice that it has less ‘bite’. Far more wine friendly. Stuart Veldhuizen, it should be said, specifically denies that any specific blue cheese was his inspiration. Bosque Blue is produced in very small quantities but I have ordered it online for a year and via one-day shipping it has always survived the Texas heat. If you are near Scardello they stock it.

Texas Gold Cheddar. This is the sharpest of several cheddar-style cheeses made by Veldhuizen. It’s taste is nutty and sharp on account of the 6-8 month ageing process.

Another cheese on the Veldhuizen card is called Redneck Cheddar. It gets its name from the addition of beer to the curd. It is so popular they had sold out before we could taste it. At his wife’s insistence Stuart now has to formulate a Penthouse Cheddar which will be made with red wine. I hope he tries Lenois, a native American grape that produces powerful, fruit-driven, port-like dessert wines not far away at Messina Hof. The refined class would say that this is a grape with the balls to cut through a strong, creamy cheese.

Stuart Veldhuisen has also been trying his hand at civil engineering. The ageing room shown below is in a cave he dug under a berm. He tested its structural integrity by driving a tractor over the top.
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A cave here has the advantage of keeping the temperature both lower and more constant than a building at ground level. Veldhuizen keeps his room at 51ºF.

During our tour there was a constant stream of visitors to the shop. While it is obvious that they got the rare privilege of meeting us, what may not be apparent is that they came from far and wide to buy cheese.

We left Veldhuizen and set off to a forgettable lunch at Lonesome Dove Western Bistro which was so unmemorable that I have er…forgotten about it. I do remember that one of the DiRoNA awards on the wall located the restaurant in “Forth Worth” (sic). I wonder if DiRoNA takes as much care with their restaurant review process?

That afternoon our travel distance was vastly reduced as we were going no further than the suburbs of Ft. Worth. We visited Deborah Rogers Italianate-style villa where she makes goat cheese in the converted stables.
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With around 25 goats being milked Deborah’s Farmstead has only enough cheese to sell retail at the Ft. Worth Farmer’s Market. Even then she arrives at 8am on Saturday and is sold out of a week’s production by 10am.
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They deal with the problem of coyotes attacking the goats organically
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I have uploaded a video that I made of Deborah describing cheese making to the group here.

The next event on the Scardello agenda is the American Cheese Society Annual Meeting in Austin on August 8th. This is a national meeting and likely will not return to Texas for a decade. There will be over 1,000 cheeses to taste so do eat before coming in order to avoid getting peckish.

#2 User is offline   twinwillow 

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 08:58 AM

Thank you, Worzel.
Excellent report and video. I would have loved to been there as well.

#3 User is offline   BK 

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 01:47 PM

Good stuff, WG.

Good to see that you didn't sully the coach, either! :wink:

#4 User is offline   foodczar 

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 03:58 PM

Thanks, WG. I'm out of Bosque Blue, and I need to go back to Scardellos and stock up.

#5 User is offline   Soulslinger 

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 10:17 PM

Wish I could have gone but was checking out the Houston Chinese scene. The Sichuan front looks pretty dismal down there. Sure proud of the chef and kitchen at Little Sichuan in Plano compared to Sichuan Cuisine in Houston.

I have only met with Deborah Rogers once at Cowtown FM and she was not very personable. It was probably not a good day for her. Perhaps I should take a tour.

I plan on making a trip out to Dublin real soon to meet with Stuart. I met and talked with him at a Slow Foods meeting. He is quickly becoming the best cheesemaker in Texas.

Good report WG!

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