Found! A Perfect Local Camembert
In these trying times, one way to help our community and ourselves is to spend what money we have left as close to home as possible. Toward that end, food writer Jan Greenberg, who keeps an eye on gastronomic developments in Dutchess County, has made a wonderful discovery, especially for devout locavores.
“Oh my god!,” I thought, after my first bite of Rory Chase’s Camembert, “If I were in France, this would be one of those cheeses I pack in my suitcase and hope that the sniffer dogs don’t catch me.”
Rory Chase (above) grew up in Pine Plains on Chaseholm Farm, the dairy his grandfather founded in the mid-1940’s. Rory’s father left Chaseholm to join the Peace Corps and obtain a degree in economics, returning to run the farm when he was thirty years old, and Rory was an infant. Following his father’s example, Rory went to Tuft’s University, and then he moved to California where he lived for seven years. He returned to the farm last year and, in addition to working with his father, founded the Amazing Real Live Food Company from which this aptly named, truly amazing Chaseholm Camembert comes.
In an area that was once home to over fifty dairy farms, Chaseholm is now one of three that remain. It houses a herd of eighty cattle, thirty five of which currently produce milk. Theirs is one of the thirteen farms participating in Hudson Valley Fresh, a dairy cooperative founded by orthopedist-dairy farmer Sam Simon to keep dairy farms viable by guaranteeing farmers a fair price for their milk. Another guarantee: to get milk into stores no more than thirty-six hours after it leaves the cow.
The Chaseholm cows are raised on grass with hay and corn silage supplements, and their milk tastes clean and sweet. Rory also uses milk from the pampered cows of neighboring Ronnybrook Farm to produce not only the fragrant, smooth, creamy Camembert, but a mild, tasty queso blanco and fresh farmer’s cheeses in flavors such as fresh dill and horseradish. Right now, production is limited but he is building a creamery that should be operating by the end of October. It will enable him to expand both quantity and variety.
Meanwhile, if you see Chase’s Camembert in a store (outlets below), my advice is to buy it; they run out fast. This is the perfect cheese to pair with fall apples and pears. I’ve kept it in the refrigerator for over a week, and it’s been fine. Just take it out a few hours before serving. —Jan Greenberg
Adams Fairacre Farms, Poughkeepsie; 845.454.4330 (also in Kingston & Newburgh)
Hudson-Chatham Winery, 1900 Route 66, Ghent; 518.392.2598 (after November 1)
McEnroe Organic, Route 22, Millerton; 518.789.4191
Montgomery Place Orchards, 8 Davis Way, Red Hook; 845.758.6338
Pecks Food Market, E. Church Street, Pine Plains; 518. 398.6622