Life in a Northern Town

Lunch With A Gentleman Farmer, Goats and Quiche

Creation is a messy business— whether it is pastry dough or birthing 63 baby goats. I had three kids in diapers at one point in my life and thought I would never emerge from the fog of feedings, Cheerios, juice boxes and chronic exhaustion. It was a cake walk compared to ushering 63 baby goats into the world in less than a month's time. My friend, Michael, is the lead goat herder, cheese maker and gentleman farmer at Sassy Nanny Farmstead Cheese. Last year, he invited us to his farm to see the babies. I made friends with a little guy named Andy and decided I had a goat in my future. As it turns out, a goat would have been the proverbial straw on the camel's back and I am goat less. However, I am still a goat admirer and was excited to meet this year's new additions to the herd.

During the summer, there is a great farmers market every Thursday in Cornucopia and that is where I tasted Michael's goat cheese for the first time about five years ago. Growing up in Minneapolis, my previous experience with cheese involved plastic wrap and a grocery store. Once I put Michael's cheese in my mouth, I realized I had been missing the boat. Local cheese, made by a man who genuinely cares for his goats was a revelation— it was fresh and creamy without any of the gaminess I typically associated with goat cheese. He makes a number of goat cheeses: Lake Effect, a fresh, spreadable goat cheese, Buttin' Heads, a sea salt brined feta, Cabra Fresco, an homage to quesco fresco and Winey Kid (my favorite), an aged raw milk cheese with a red wine washed rind. Food tastes better when it hasn't been on a trans-continental trip of planes, trains and automobiles and Michael's cheese is no exception. His cheese is as good as anything I have tasted and I know the goats (kind of). How cool is that??

Living your dream takes a tremendous amount of hard work— the stakes are high and success is hard to measure. Michael, like most of my friends up here, decided to take a leap of faith and chose the road less traveled. I am glad he did because as Frost said,, 'that has made all the difference'. It makes a difference to live the life you dreamed of, to be a good steward to your environment and animals, to live in the moment (especially when the moment is one you would rather fast forward) and have the courage to watch it all unfold and know it is as it should be. When I moved to Bayfield and opened the restaurant with Renee, I had no idea what the future held for me but I knew it had all the components for an epic adventure. That is the beauty of Sassy Nanny Cheese, Good Thyme Restaurant or any number of the other small businesses up here— it isn't always easy but there are bound to be some epic adventures shared around a table full of good food, wine and friends.

Dorie Greenspan's Gorgonzola and Apple Quiche

1 pastry crust, blind baked in a 9 to 10 inch tart pan

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 apple (Empire, Gala or Granny Smith), sliced 1/4 inch thick

4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

4 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded

2/3 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup milk

4 large eggs

salt and pepper

 Put a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 deg F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt butter in a small skillet over low heat. Add onion and saute until onion is soft but not colored, about 10-15 minutes, then remove from heat. Place the partially baked pastry shell on the baking sheet (this will catch any drips). Spread the onion evenly over the bottom of the crust. Scatter the apple pieces over the onion and top with the crumbled Gorgonzola and shredded Swiss cheese. Beat the eggs, milk, and cream together until well blended and season with salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture into the tart pan. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the filling is puffed all over (make sure the center is puffed), lightly browned, and set. Transfer the quiche to a cooling rack and allow it to cool for at least 5 minutes. Remove the sides of the tart pan and slide quiche onto a platter or cutting board. Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers keep well in the fridge for 2-3 days.