Sunday, May 17, 2015

Farm Outing to Fishing Creek Creamery - Goat Cheese, Gelato and Milk

Fishing Creek Creamery - photo by Liz Krejci

And so we were off again, this time for a fun afternoon farm adventure to Fishing Creek Creamery, a Grade A Goat Dairy and Farmstead Creamery in Chester, South Carolina.

We began by meeting for lunch at Salud Mexican Kitchen in historic downtown Camden, South Carolina. This authentic Mexican cuisine restaurant and tequila bar never disappoints and always serves up the BEST I've ever tasted. Several of us had the Burrito Frito,with shredded beef or tender pulled chicken, fried golden crisp and topped with queso sauce, lettuce, sour cream & tomato, while others enjoyed the quesadilla al pastor, with marinated pork. Delicious!

After lunch we headed north for a quick stop to see Amy and shop at Thames Farm. This is a another great South Carolina farm we love to frequent. Here people picked up fresh ham steaks, brats, maple sausage links, center-cut pork chops and more.

At Thames Farm with Amy Thames buying some awesome pork products
After hugs goodbye, we filled our coolers and were finally headed to our destination: Fishing Creek Creamery, located at 3694 Fishing Creek Church Road in Chester, South Carolina.

Fishing Creek Creamery - Saanen Goats
After introductions all around, and while savoring a yummy gelato, owner Dave Cole explained "We started raising dairy goats in 2009 after I discovered I had an allergy to cow milk. We tried soy and almond milk but it just wasn’t as satisfying as traditional cow milk. Eventually we discovered a local farmer who produced raw goat milk and decided to give it a try. We loved it! After many visits with the farmer we decided to try raising dairy goats ourselves and soon acquired a herd of 5 Saanen dairy goats. A few months after their arrival the goats had babies and we had delicious, fresh goat milk. However, it didn’t take long before we had more milk than we could drink, so we learned how to make cheese. What started out as a hobby quickly turned into a passion! We now have a herd of over 50 Saanen, Nubian, and “Snubian” dairy goats, 34 of which we milk twice a day, every day. In early 2014 we opened a brand new state-of-the-art dairy facility. The milk parlor has a fast-exit head-gate system that lets us milk 12 goats at a time and Clean-In-Place (CIP) milk line system to ensure maximum efficiency and sanitation. Fresh milk is stored in a bulk tank and then pumped into a vat pasteurizer where we make cheese in small batches. Because we produce “Grade A” milk (the highest quality of milk under federal regulations), our milk is tested and our facilities are inspected throughout the year by SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)."

Parker "approved" Gelato - Fishing Creek Creamery - photo by Cathy Wood

Fishing Creek Creamery -  photo by Liz Krejci

Why Saanen Goats?  Saanen (pronounced SAH-nen or SAW-nen) goats originated in the Saanen Valley of the canton of Bern in Switzerland, where they were selected for milking ability, hardiness, and color. In 1893 several thousand head of Saanens were taken from the valley and dispersed throughout Europe; they came to the United States in 1904 and became the first breed registered in North America. Saanens are the Holsteins of the goat world. Saanen average 1,975 to 2,000 pounds of 3 percent to 4 percent butterfat milk per year. However, the American Dairy Goat Association's top milk producer for 2007 was Caprikorn Krug's Stargate, a Saanen doe who gave 5,140 pounds of milk!

Fishing Creek Creamery baby goat - photo by Liz Krejci
After learning about the different goat breeds, and why they chose the Saanen's, have a few Nubian and "Snubian" dairy goats, we were off on our tour of the farm, the milking parlor and the cheese area.

Fishing Creek Creamery milking parlor - photo by Liz Krejci
"We pride ourselves on creating high quality products and believe that great cheese can only be made from great milk. Since our goats are the foundation of everything we do, managing their health and well-being is our number one priority. We provide top quality food for maximum nutrition and make our own hay so we know exactly what the goats eat. We welcome you to our farm to see the goats and facility in person. While you’re here, stop by our farm store to try our products. We offer samples of everything we make. By supporting our farm, you are supporting a movement to help grow small farms that are better for the animals, better for the land, better for the people, and better for America (the land of the great)."

And the cheeses are amazing! The Feta, Chevre Frais, and Tomme we sampled were all excellent.

Fishing Creek Creamery - Tomme Cheese
Fishing Creek Creamery - Classic Feta
Fishing Creek Creamery - Chevre Frais Garlic & Chives
Once again I am amazed by the dedication and determination of small family farms here in South Carolina. These farmers care about their livestock and the product they provide. There's a level of pride you can just see as they talk to you about their farm. They are doing it in a way to have the least possible impact on the environment, be more sustainable, and provide a superior product to you and me, their customers and consumers. 

I can tell you by everything I witnessed first-hand at Fishing Creek Creamery, Dave and Melinda Cole are that type of farmer! Their farm is amazing and what they've accomplished in such as short time is nothing short of miraculous. Thank you for sharing it with all of us!

Lunch today - Pickled Asparagus, Fishing Creek Creamery Classic Feta, Black Olives and Hard Salami