Tribune-Review (March 23, 2022) – A Hampton farm has partnered with local businesses to create one of the world’s best cheeses, at least according to the judges at the World Championship Cheese Contest, held March 1-3 in Wisconsin.
Bamboozle cheese, created from a blend of goat and cow’s milk at Goat Rodeo Farm & Dairy in Hampton, took first place in the competition’s surface-ripened mixed-milk cheese category. It is aged for at least two months and washed with Tracks Again, an unfiltered pilsner brewed by Pittsburgh-based Cinderlands Beer Co. It is a semi-soft cheese with notes of prosciutto and peanuts.
“I grew up on a farm in Sarver,” said Goat Rodeo owner India Loevner. “And our kids grew up here with animals. Plus my husband is really into cooking, so I knew he’d be into cheese-making.”
With the help of a Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program grant, Loevner has been able to expand Goat Rodeo by building a modern, climate-controlled aging “cave” for cheeses. It is the same type of grant that helped Pleasant Lane Farms in Unity get a foot in the cheese-making business — and earned them a first-place ribbon at the 2022 Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg.
The two farms have that in common: Goat Rodeo brought home four awards from the farm show, including first-place wins for their Bamboozle (washed-rind category) and Wild Rosemary (flavored cheese made from goat/sheep/mixed milk category). Their Fresh Chevre cheese had to settle for second place in the goat’s milk cheese category – but that’s only because their Hootenanny cheese took the top spot.
Loevner and her husband Steve own the 130-acre family farm that is home to just under 150 Alpine, Nubian and La Mancha goats, and in addition to their in-house dairy, they also bring in milk from other area farms to created their blended cheeses.
“We’re very interested in local food and preserving local farmland,” Loevner said.
Creating blended cheese varieties, Loevner said, allows them to balance the tang of goat’s milk cheese with the more-buttery flavor profile of cow’s milk.
“We did a lot of experimenting to get the flavor we wanted,” she said. “And we’re always trying different things that appeal to different people.”
In the aging cave, there a few “science experiments” awaiting a taste test on a lower shelf. And Loevner’s daughter Sally has started creating handmade caramels using goat’s milk.
“I think they’re really unique in their taste and their texture,” Sally said.
Loevner said that with Pennsylvania dairy farmers struggling, she enjoys being able to partner with and help others in her industry.
“You always hear about cheese being made in Vermont and Wisconsin,” she said. “But I think Pennsylvania has some of the most beautiful farmland and it’s great to be part of that here.”