When I had blogged about my love of Ivan-hoe Cheese Factory a friend of mine (Karen) asked if I had been to The Empire Cheese Factory in Stirling. She told me that if I liked Ivan-hoe's cheese curds, i would LOVE Empire's cheese curds. It is from that suggestion that a dream was born. Over the coarse of the summer I plan to visit every cheese factory in my area, and rate them. I know, a lofty goal, but I consider myself to be a curd connoisseur, and I feel like I am up to the task!
As I shared with you yesterday Christopher had the day off and so we decided to be spontaneous and do a road trip (well as much of a road trip as you can accomplish before a 3:30 school pick up will allow for). We loaded Elly and off we went. The only way I could get Christopher to agree to come to Tammy's store was with the promise of a visit to the Empire Cheese Factory (Elly has to do what I tell her, unfortunately my husband is an adult and I can boss him around the way I would like to be able to). We had a nice little visit at Tammy's store and headed over to the Empire Cheese Factory.
Here is what I like about The Empire Cheese Factory, it's a Co-Op. It is owned by local dairy farmers. "Local, that means that they live here, that means that no corporate big wig who lives in a big city far away makes decisions that effect the farmers who supply the milk, the works at the cheese factory, the people who purchase their product. "Local" means that if they screw up, you can bet that on one of their trips into town, ten neighbours are going to call them an idiot! They add no additives to boost production, there are no preservatives, as a mom who is tries to make her children's food from scratch, I appreciate that. I appreciate being able to purchase a "pure" product.
Empire Cheese is a little off the beaten track. It is between the towns of Stirling and Campbellford. The building it's self is very unassuming, to be honest if I weren't looking for it, I probably would have driven right past it. When we walked in the doors it looked a little like a country market, it is very quaint. I really appreciated the variety of cheeses that they produced. There were of coarse your standard cheddars, but then they mixed it up a bit with Salsa Cheese, Monterey Jack, Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper, Jalapeno, Onion, Caraway, Red Chillies, Black Pepper, Dill, Horseradish. They made their own cream cheese in so many different tantalizing flavours. I have never been to a cheese factory that made their own cream cheese before. For heavens sake they had "Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper Curd". I of coarse was too afraid to try the new fan-dangled curd,
but was impressed at it's existence.
I also really liked how proud they were of their achievements (as they should be), there were awards hanging in the shop. They sell local food items. I loved the preserves for sale that had the first prize ribbon hanging from shelf. I loved the fact that they were supporting their neighbours.
If you find yourself hitting the roads, it would be worth your while to visit The Empire Cheese Factory. We left with a bag of curd (Karen you're right, sooooo good), caramelized onion cheese, and some dill cream cheese, which I am going to buy a nice baguette to sample it on.
As you read this you might be thinking to yourself "that woman seems to like everything, is she simple?" Perhaps I am a little simple, the fact is that if I did not like something, I would never share it. Why would I suggest that you should waste your time on something terrible? I truly, truly appreciate quality to detail. To me I like to be greeted by someone friendly, who makes me feel welcome when I go to a store. When I purchase something for my family, I like to know it's quality. When I buy food, I like to buy it in it's purest, safest form. Why would I go to the sacrifice of giving up an income to stay home to raise my children, but then simple not care what I put into their growing bodies?