Thursday, November 15, 2012

A.B. Cheese-Man

Brent Zimmerman is an American, born and raised in Michigan.  Now, he's a goat farmer, living on his farm "Valle Di Mezzo" in Anghiari, Italy, not far from Arezzo. Today, along with a group of fellow cheese lovers, I visited his A.B. Cheese (ahem, play on words for the first 3 letters of the alphabet in Italian) Company.  Yes, that is correct......I actually left Umbria for a day out in Tuscany and it all worked out fine.

Brent is one hard-working but incredibly happy man.  He raises goats (geese, rabbits, cats and a dog too) on this beautiful farm in the middle of the most gorgeous countryside and he gives tours of his farm, explaining the life cycle of a chunk of cheese.  And what a cycle it is.  He now has 65 goats from whom he gets the milk for his cheese.  But, this is only one tiny piece of the story.

With a great deal of patience, pride, humor and energy, Brent explains how painstaking the process of making goat cheese(s) is and how from the moment a baby goat is born (and there are many goats giving birth all at approximately the same time), it is hard work for the farmers from early morning to late each night.  His goats are bottle fed for several good reasons, all of which go into the making of happy mother goats and equally happy babies.

We started our morning with coffee and gorgeous pasteries.  We ended our tour with a goat cheese tasting.  Gorgeous bits of THE most incredible products were offered for our tasting delight.  Just when we thought we had tasted the world's best goat milk product, we were treated to a sample of freshly made goat milk caramel........You will never find anything like this at Baskin Robbins, or anywhere else for that matter.

Tummies full of cheese?  What could we possibly do next?  Back in the cars and off to lunch of course.  En caravan we drove off to the Castello Di Sorci Locanda in Anghiari for a lunch of traditional Tuscan cuisine too wonderful to describe.  I will say that there were a variety of bruschette, gnocchi, taglietelle with a meat sauce, a selection of grilled meats and potatoes, wine, wine, wine, cake dipped in vin santo and coffee.

Its time to get out and take a walk now.  There is a quiet beauty about Assisi in the evening.  Church bells chime, lights dot the horizon as if they were little jewels.  It's a good time to think and to be thankful for blessings like this day.

Buona notte.

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