American Feast, LLC :: Organic Tarentaise Raw Milk Cheese :: About the Producer
Thistle Hill Farm
Thistle Hill Farm has been a certified organic farm for over 15 years and was one of the first organic dairy farms to supply the Organic Cow of Vermont.
The farm in Pomfret, Vermont started out as a part time endeavor of the family of John & Janine Putnam with 26 Hereford beef cows and vegetables.
As the farm began to improve, the interest and complexity of dairy moved the Putnams to pursue dairy alone.
Although far more profitable, dairy alone was not enough to sustain the family and farm in the hills of Vermont.
In 1999, the Putnams went to Switzerland, where, following the advice and descriptions of Steven Jenkins in "Cheese Primer" (Workman Publishing, 1996), they visited almost every major cheesemaking region in the Swiss, French and Italian Alps.
They’re quest was to find a cheese they loved, produced in conditions matching as closely as possible the climate of Pomfret, Vermont.
The journey landed the Putnam family of six to Beaufort France, which had everything they needed, including a coin operated laundromat and a cheese they knew they’d like to get to know better.
After exhausting the local bar's supply of 5 franc coins on the washing machines and the Beaufort cheesemakers' English, the Putnams headed back down the valley knowing they would be back.
The next year, after searching for a copper cheese vat in the Swiss, French and Italian Alps with the help of friends made on their previous trip, they headed for Beaufort.
Although they met many helpful people, their French and German was only as good as our counterparts' English.
They were told, however, of a Frenchman who would tell them all they needed to know.
He lived hours away in the mountains above Moutiers.
They found him on a Sunday afternoon at his house.
Like a true farmer, having done little more than milk his cows, make some cheese, do his chores, clean the kitchen after his family had gone off for the afternoon, and then perhaps get an hour for himself before evening chores and milking, he seemed a bit less than overjoyed to see two lost souls on his doorstep at a time when a brisk nap seemed like a good idea.
He let John & Janine struggle in French for a while before asking them in for coffee in perfect English.
He makes Beaufort "alpage" in the summer from the milk of 100 Tarine cows twice a day, everyday, all summer.
He is famous for his cheese, and for falling asleep at dinner.
He said "to make Beaufort is too meticulous for you".
That was the hook.
He found the Putnams an apprentice who has become a good friend, and both have helped the family ever since.
He now thinks that "maybe our job is OK".
Thistle Hill Tarentaise is the happy result.
We think you’ll find that the Putnam family has been sufficiently meticulous!
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