It’s Sunday Morning – Time to Talk Cheeses: The Lady Gets Goaty at Gothberg Farms – Marcella The Cheesemonger International Guilde des Fromagers
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It’s Sunday Morning – Time to Talk Cheeses: The Lady Gets Goaty at Gothberg Farms

Before we met Rhonda Gothberg, The Lady and I were not big fans of goat cheeses. We had met a few we liked and there was one (actually the first we tasted) that I had to bury in my litter box… seriously…

Then Rhonda walked through the our cheese door and love for goat cheese walked in with her and captured our hearts… read our reviews here.

In 2010, The Lady attended the American Cheese Society Conference in Seattle and she got to hang with Rhonda at the “Meet the Cheesemaker” event as Rhonda’s assistant. I was, of course, left behind in an undisclosed bunker with The Man because The Seattle Sheraton is one of those pesky “No Pets Allowed” joints. The Lady tells me that hanging with Rhonda is one of her fondest cheese memories (and as old as The Lady is… she has lots of fond memories and some others… not so much…) but I digress.

Last Thursday, The Lady and her cheesy friends, Natasha, Michele and Jimme, took off for Bow, Washington to tour Gothberg Farms and meet the goats. I was, of course, left behind in an undisclosed bunker with The Man because Gothberg Farms is another of those pesky “No Pets Allowed” joints.

Gothberg Farms sits in the Skagit Valley, an amazingly gorgeous area about eighty miles north of Seattle and forty miles south of the Canadian Border. The Samish Bay, part of the Puget Sound, lies to the west of the farm. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier and the Canadian Coastal Range…

Rhonda and her husband have built a little bit of goat heaven on forty acres where they share the land with some twenty LaMancha milking does, three bucks and several kids. They also met Rhonda’s assistant, Debbie, who loves the goats and the farm almost as much as Rhonda… and that is saying a lot…

As with many cheesemakers, it starts with a couple of does to provide milk for the family and then one day you wake up and have way too much milk for a family of three. This happened to Rhonda, a Registered Nurse, who caught the bug and fell in love with her goats and wanted to turn their milk into cheese.

She took the Cheesemakers’ Short Course at Washington State University and began the tough and expensive task of turning her former cow dairy farm into a goat farm. She studied the Washington State requirements to become a certified dairy and earn the licenses to make cheese.

When Rhonda felt she was ready, she contacted the WSDA to make an appointment to be reviewed and licensed. The WSDA “warned” Rhonda that rarely does a dairy pass the test the first time and not to worry, they would work her through the process to get her there.

Ta da… on the two-part certification, Rhonda and her farm made 100% on both parts and the rest is history…

Rhonda and Debbie gave The Lady and her friends the grand tour starting with the milking parlor. Rhonda required The Lady wear shoe covers because the shoes she was wearing had previously been worn at Rogue Creamery.

The parlor and the ante room outside the “make” room were immaculate… man oh man… talk about clean… you could eat off the floor. Rhonda would not allow them in the “make” room as she is fastidious about keeping it clean and sterile… all those years of being a nurse have transferred into being a cheesemaker with standards that are never compromised.

After the tour of the indoors, Rhonda took them out to meet the goats but requested they not touch the goats to make sure no humankind germs were transferred to the superior goats (not as superior as felines… but close…).

The goats are free range and graze on the flora and fauna of the farm most of the year with supplements of hay and alfalfa. Unhappy with commercial grain mixes, Rhonda studied and developed her own grain mix which is sold at the local grainery as “Gothberg Goat”. Other farmers can buy it as well… Rhonda just wants everything to be the best of the best for her babies…

They met the bucks, three of them, that “service” the does during the season… not a bad job to have, if you ask me… I note their ability to complete their tasks is a result of Rhonda’s humane views… allowing the bucks to stay “intact” … something The Lady did NOT grant to me… but I’m not bitter…

The farm has been certified Animal Welfare Approved … a certification that will never happen here at The Manse… but again, I’m not bitter…

They got to peak into the aging room and drool… so many cheeses…

After the tour, Rhonda treated them to a Gothberg Cheese Plate with crackers and polenta cookies, also made at the farm, Sully’s Date Jam and a local beer made specially to pair with Rhonda’s cheeses.

On the plate were an aged gouda, Rhonda’s goat Caerphilly (Debbie’s favorite cheese), chevre, The Woman of La Mancha (made from raw goat milk), Delizia della Tavola which means Delight of the Table and Chiva Chipotle, an aged cheddar with a layer of spices running through the middle ala Morbier…

(The cheeses we haven’t reviewed previously will be reviewed in the near future when I post my interview with Rhonda as part of my “Meet the Cheesemakers’ series…)

The Cheese Plate was perfect, the tour was perfect and thanks to Rhonda and Debbie, the day was perfect… at least that’s what The Lady tells me… I wouldn’t know first hand because…

I was, of course, left behind in an undisclosed bunker with The Man because Gothberg Farms is another of those pesky “No Pets Allowed” joints…

But since The Lady has never lied to me… you can believe every word of this report…

The Lady gives Gothberg Farms 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Only two weeks left in our June Giveaway: Sign up now: Our June Giveaway is Sully’s Date Jams: Starting June 11th, and the following 3 Mondays (4 winners total) we will give one lucky subscriber Sully’s Date Jam… details to follow tomorrow… all you do is subscribe to my email newsletter. I will never sell or use your email address in a nefarious manner. If you already subscribe and have not won one of our giveaways in the last 30 days… you, too are eligible to win… two more winners on 6/25 and 7/2… Today’s winner will be announced later today…

 

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