We're in Week 4 of the Sweet Freedom Creamery CheeseQuest! The first couple of weeks flew by as we traveled through Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania with CheeseMinion, Amber. Mr. Sweet Freedom (my husband, Andrew) joined the Quest in Scranton ("Let Us Be Your Rest Stop"), Pennsylvania, where Amber left off. For the second leg of the trip, we made a loop in the CheeseMobile through New York and Vermont, visiting several noteworthy cheesemakers along the way.
Andrew gave his thoughts on the week he spent on the CheeseQuest:
Q: What made you want to join the Sweet Freedom Creamery CheeseQuest?
A: I mainly* wanted to support Jessica on her journey. I also thought that it would be a great chance for me to get a bit of practical knowledge from the designs, methods, and experience of other cheesemakers along the way so that I can better help Jessica when she creates her own production facility.
Andrew with Bobo, the retired farm dog at Lime Kiln Farm in West Coxsackie, New York
*To curb any incorrect notions regarding my altruistic intentions - getting away from the office and daily grind was also a great motivating factor!
Q: Where was the most interesting stop during your portion of the CheeseQuest?
A: Practically every stop was very interesting! In fact, what was most interesting to me was how varied all of the different operations were. Every cheesemaker approached the cheesemaking process differently and focused on elements important to them and what they wanted to create. Each facility had different environmental conditions that shaped the creamery and flow of operations.
Plymouth Artisan Cheese in Vermont had the most unique set-up and operational constraints. Lime Kiln Farm in New York was also a great experience, as they are in the process of constructing their production and aging facilities. It’s a beautiful place occupied by some great people and animals.
Q: What’s your impression of the cheese community and cheesemakers on the trip?
A: Generally, everyone was nice and interesting. All of the cheesemakers were passionate about making cheese but expressed their passions very differently in how they approached cheesemaking and aging.
Q: What was your favorite part of the CheeseQuest?
A: My favorite part of the CheeseQuest was visiting a large portion of the northeast that I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting before. I met many great people along the way and was also able to see many great friends that moved to this region (from Arkansas) who I have not been able to visit with in a long time.
Q: Of the numerous cheeses you’ve sampled on the way, which was your favorite?
A: Spring Brook Farm’s Reading.
Q: Any advice for the next CheeseMinion coming on the CheeseQuest?
A: Have a blast! Enjoy all of the awesome farms, creameries, and cities that you will be visiting. It will be over too fast. Also, eat vegetables and get sleep when possible! You will need your strength to see you through the rest of the journey.
Q: Where are you headed from here?
A: I am flying back home to northwest Arkansas. I'll check up on my cats, chickens, and garden and relax a little before begrudgingly returning to the 8-5 work schedule soon.