In order for one to flourish on social media, certain people suggest, one must be attentive to their accounts at all moments. One must post on twitter two to three times a day. One must leave comments on blogs so their authors will notice you, visit your blog, and then (fingers crossed and pray to the blog gods) leave comments on yours. One most be on twitter and instagram and facebook, post on their blog, and on pinterest, send out newsletters, and then… at some point, breath. It’s a roller-coaster. Some love it. Others enjoy the ride in the roller-coaster car to the top, taking in the view, saying hello to other passengers, then suddenly remember on the way down they’re afraid of heights and spend the rest of the trip screaming. For me, it’s often a struggle to keep my platform wits about me, but other times, it’s a blessing. Years ago, I was invited to stay in the Loire Valley with a charming French woman, and I’ve met some of my now-best friends through twitter. But lately interactions on social media had felt a little slow.
Then a couple months ago, Allison from Lakin’s Gorges contacted me. We were following each other on Instagram, she said. Would I like to try her cheese? She is a one-woman show in Rockport Maine who makes wheels with organic milk from Tide Milk farm’s sixty grass-fed cows, she wrote. I was intrigued. I checked out her website. She learned cheesemaking at the University of Wisconsin and got her cheese legs under Peter Dixon. Her wheels looked tasty, I was already impressed. Then I learned that two years before she started making cheese, she competed in the All Ireland Bones Playing championship in Abbeyfeale and she saves her sparerib bones to make traditional Irish instruments. I replied yes.
A month or two later her cheese triumphed over the polar vortex shipping hastening and arrived on my door. All of them were tasty. My favorites were the Prix de Diane and Opus 42
Prix de Diane: Oozy, creamy. Like someone stirred fresh cream with a splash of lemon juice. Jacketed in a healthy bloomy rind. Lovely with prosecco.
Opus 42: Could snack on this all day with dry sherry. Crumbly, dense, earthy, reminded me a little of Landaff’s Landaff or Caerphilly, but with a flakier texture. Tastes like it had been sprinkled with lemon juice. Semi-soft and shave-able. Would be delicious over favas and fresh egg pasta.
Allison was also kind enough to answer a couple questions, below.
What similarities do you find that link cheesemaking to playing Irish music for you?
Playing Irish music and making cheese are both all about the rhythm. You have to sit back, pay attention to the progression, and wait for that moment when it slides into the groove with amazing results. It doesn’t pay to rush and sometimes doing nothing is the best option.
Do you still make your rib bones to make your instruments?
I started playing bones when I worked at Mystic Seaport and made my first set after eating a delicious spare rib dinner. Today I also like to use shin bones, which produce a different timbre when played. I add scrimshaw designs to my bones. Scrimshaw was traditionally practiced aboard whaling ships, sailors would take a sail needle and inscribe a design on a whalebone and then rub ink into the picture.
You can order Lakin’s Gorges cheese online, or if you’re in the east coast you can check out Portland Food Coop, Peekytoe Provisions, Formaggio Kitchen, River Valley Market, Eataly and Little Bleu Cheese Shop.