We are lucky to be alive for the local cheese movement! In the not-so-distant past, most U.S.-made cheese came from factories in the Midwest. Now Southeastern Pennsylvania and the surrounding area has exploded, with a plethora of creameries coming into existence in just the last 10 years, and you can find almost any style of cheese being made within 100 miles of here.
One of my favorite newcomers is Stefanie Angstadt of Valley Milkhouse Creamery in Oley, Berks County.
After leaving a position in the financial world, Stefanie decided to follow her passion and try her hand at cheesemaking. While looking for a place to get started, she met the owner of Covered Bridge Farm and quickly discovered that his farm was situated on the same exact land her German ancestors settled 300 years ago.
Located only 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia, Stefanie’s creamery is situated in the heart of some of the most fertile land in our region. Covered Bridge Farm is made up of multiple independently owned operations that also includes a CSA, an organic tomato farm and a farmstand that sells products from a dozen Oley Valley producers.
Stefanie (that's her in the picture in the yellow hat) uses milk produced nearby at Spring Creek Farms in Berks County, and Dutch Meadows Dairy in Lancaster County. With this incredibly high-quality, grass-fed milk, she creates French- and Dutch-style cheeses that suit her milk and aging facilities perfectly. Out of her wide selection, we carry:
- Clover — fromage blanc with or without herbs.
- Witchgrass — bloomy rind pyramid made in the style of a French goat cheese called Valencay.
- Blue Bell — her firmer take on a French classic blue.
We also carry her incredible hand-churned butter.
She has many more cheeses on her roster and you are more than welcome to special-order anything from her list with a short lead time. (Visit www.valleymilkhouse.com for the most current list.)
I recommend taking home some Clover without herbs and rolling it in your favorite spices. For a holiday feel, a bit of nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and allspice would do the trick. With warm bread and some hard apple cider, your family and friends are sure to feel the holiday cheer. Similarly, Stefanie’s luscious butter mixed with your favorite herbs or cinnamon and sugar will impress even the most discerning guest.
Look out for her cheeses on special in December at both stores. A local cheese is the perfect thing for your holiday table.
— Matt Budenstein, Weavers Way Chestnut Hill Deli Manager