The same day we went to Cafe Rabelais which you can read about here, we went to Houston Dairymaids. If you haven’t heard of this place, and you love cheese, you are about to hear about what amounts to what I like to call a giant unicorn made out of cheese. But this place is more than just cheese. They carry local artisanal foods and products such as local honeys, jams, breads, olives, nuts, oils, wines, chocolates, butter, yogurt, and cheese curds. I still have a jar of some cinnamon creamed honey that I bought there and it is delicious. Once you have had local honey, you will never go back to the watery, flat tasting honey that you buy at the grocery store.
Why is this place special? Why should you, if possible, buy certain things here instead of Kroger’s or even Whole Foods? Well, there are many answers to that. First of all, you are supporting local farms and/or companies. So if you find yourself bitching about Walmart, this is the best revenge against it. Also, local purchases tend to generate a smaller carbon footprint; it’s more “green.” The food is better, much better than what you get in a regular market. Eating real food is much better for you than eating processed crap. The cows, sheep, and goats that produce the milk that is used to make these cheeses, yogurts, and butter are free range, grass/herb fed, and treated humanely. When you eat these products, you aren’t eating hormones and antibiotics, and you aren’t eating something that came from an animal that was terrorized and made to suffer for it either. Did I mention the cost? Some of the things are a bit pricey. Almost ten dollars for some honey, and almost eight dollars for some butter (which I will give more detail about), but it’s quality stuff and lasts a long time. But their cheese is priced very fairly. For the quality you get, you pay less than you would pay if you went to Whole Foods or the cheese shop at Kroger’s. It’s really a win-win situation.
Did I mention the free cheese tasting? Yeah, you heard me. They offer everyone a free cheese tasting. They arrange a platter of about six cheeses, usually their six featured cheeses of the day. Each cheese is cut into a bite sized amount so you can taste it and they will explain what type of milk is used, how it’s made, and what things you can do with the cheese, as well as offer suggestions for pairing.
I decided on two cheese for the house and then I bought three more for the gathering later because Katie and Rod and I were heading back to his house to cook more food! I chose the bosque blue which is a pungent blue with a lovely vein that is almost crystallized when you bite into it. To appease my husband’s palette (he likes milder cheeses), I chose the Marieke smoked Gouda. It is tangy with a smoky finish. I normally do not like smoked cheeses because they often taste like plastic and they always taste like they have been injected with liquid smoke flavoring. Not this cheese though.
This morning I set out to make breakfast and I wanted to make something special so I decided on scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, grits, and pumpernickel bread toast. Sounds simple but I added my own touch with the help of Houston Dairymaids. I began caramelizing some yellow onions with cherry wood smoked sea salt (a gift from Rod), smoked paprika, and fresh dill from the garden.
Once the onions were caramelized, I added the smoked Gouda, crab meat, and dill.
The grits were made with stone ground cornmeal, so it took a good 45 minutes to an hour to make but so worth it. Ten minutes before taking it off the burner, I added a diced Serrano pepper and mozzarella cheese.
This is where one of their artisanal products comes into the picture. I put Lucky Layla’s golden butter on the toast, and the grits. You can see the golden color in the picture above (about passive demos).
Lucky Layla Farm is a local dairy farm located in Garland, Texas. The butter comes from Guernsey and Jersey cows. This butter tastes the way it looks: golden and sunny. It’s full of flavor.
Served with some dark, flavorful Costa Rican coffee, breakfast was a hit!
You can check out Houston Dairymaids here and learn about Lucky Layla Farms and the other local companies they work with.