The next stop on our journey was Crave Brothers, a farmstead dairy in Waterloo Wisconsin. It’s a big farmstead* dairy – nearly 1000 cows – and they make some of the best mascarpone in the country and one of my favorite American cheeses: Petit Frere.
This was the first time on our trip that we got to see cows. On the way there we hit massive thunder storms and thought we might not be able to visit them, but the weather cleared just as we arrived and we got the tractor tour by one of the Crave Brothers: George Crave.**
One of the best things about the Crave Brothers farm is that they have the most productive dairy farm methane digester that I know of*** producing all the energy needed to power their cheese plant as well as 120 local homes.**** They titled their press release about this “From Cow Pies to Blue Skies”. Heh.
It was an awesome tour. The only thing we didn’t get to see was the manure lagoon.
As for their cheese (which I feel funny writing about after typing “manure lagoon” in the last paragraph) I love their little washed rind cheese called Petit Frere (little brother). It’s rich, creamy and – if you let it ripen right – oozy and pungent. I’ve been experimenting around with them at the store and would say give it 60-65 days after the make-date on the box and it will be perfect.
*Farmstead means that the cheese is made on the farm and only from the milk of cows that live there.
** They made a point of telling us that, yes, that was their real name and not a clever marketing ploy “Crave Brothers” could go either way, eh?
***Other dairy farms are also doing this. Local dairy heroes at the Straus Family Creamery were – unsurprisingly — one of the early innovators.
**** They even made the news with this and there’s a nice little video (sponsored by Glaxo, heh)