Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese & Riffs

The food bloggers in Nashville have become quite a community. This past Saturday, we took our first field trip to Austin, Kentucky, to visit Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese. I couldn’t stop talking about how excited I was for days leading up to the trip and it was really hard to get to sleep the night before, even though we were meeting bright and early at 7:30 a.m. Yes, I’m a dork, especially when it comes to food. There’s not much else I get up early for, well, maybe chocolate.

We packed into a van and headed North. The drive was gorgeous once we got out of Nashville and further into Kentucky. The hour and a half drive was worth it with a van full of foodies. I was in conversation heaven as I don’t think we strayed from the topic of food the entire time.

We arrived to find Kenny already into the process of making White Cheddar. See this vat? This is it. I can’t believe all of his delicious varieties come from this one vat.

curds and whey

All of the cheese is made by hand. Kenny tells us you can “feel” when it’s ready. Too much automation would cause the volume to decrease.

Kenny's hand in curds

We look pretty good in hair nets don’t you think?

bloggers

As Kenny stirs the curds and whey he’s telling some great cheese-making stories. The guy has some major personality and he loves what he does. I could tell this wasn’t going to be your run-of-the-mill, bore-me-to-death field trips of my younger years. And when you love cheese-making as much as Kenny does, it shows in your product.

Kenny stirring

Here are a few molds for the cheese. Think of all the delicious cheese that has passed through these.

molds

Next we were lead into a tiny room where they age the cheese. I’m pretty sure I let out out a small squeal. First we passed where the cheese is in a brine.

cheese in brine

It was cheese for days.

blocks of cheese

I wanted to pull up a chair, get a knife, and chow down!

Cheddar Reserve & Swiss

Kenny, how did you know Gouda is one of my favorites?

Gouda

And I’ll add Kenny’s Norwood to that favorites list. I secretly hoped I’d get locked into the aging room. I wouldn’t starve!

Norwood

Meet the cows! They are literally next door to the cheese-making room. The milk is piped into the vat right out of the cow. It doesn’t get much fresher than that!

cow

And they are happy cows. Happy cows make excellent cheese.

cows

This little one is two days old.

2 day old cow

And they’ve got their own housing. Ah, life on the farm.

brown baby cow

After a visit with the cows, it was back to the cheese. After the whey is drained off, blocks of curd remain.

blocks of curds

Now it’s time for a process called “cheddaring.”

cheddaring machine

The blocks of curd are cut into smaller pieces. Next comes the salting process. It gets slowly salted in three stages. I tasted it after the first salting. Not bad, but not quite cheddar just yet.

cheddaring

The result is pieces that are then molded into what will become delicious White Cheddar. It’s hard to believe that vat of curds and whey turns into decadent cheese.

white cheddar

We sampled so many cheeses that afternoon. My instant favorite was Norwood. It’s a Gruyere-based cheese with lovely crystals and a pleasant bite. This is my wedge I brought home from the farm, and I’m doing some serious damage. Thank goodness you can buy Kenny’s cheese in Nashville.

slice of norwood

As if Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese tour wasn’t enough, thanks to Jennifer (Kenny’s cousin and cheese rep), we met the guys behind Riffs. They gave us a sneak peek of their new food truck coming to Nashville soon. Boy is Nashville in for a treat!

Our first course was a Panzanella Salad with cornbread croutons, bacon vinaigrette, and featured Kenny’s Blue Gouda. I devoured this. I loved the cornbread croutons. The vinaigrette in combination with the veggies and croutons gave a hint of sweet and that paired incredibly with the blue cheese. You’d think this dish would be on the heavy side, but it was refreshingly light.

Panzanella

B.J. and Carlos prepping for our second course.

B.J. and Carlos

Our second course was a Pork Croustade with Pear Chutney and featured Kenny’s Awe Brie. I couldn’t stop saying “this is soooo good” with every bite. The pork had a bit of a spicy kick from the rub. Combine that with sweet pear chutney and creamy brie, it was insanely good.

Pork Croustade

Along with the pork, we tried a Salted Cod Cake over Cheddar Grits with Habanero Aioli. The grits featured Kenny’s White Cheddar. I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard of salted cod and wasn’t exactly jumping up and down to have it on my plate for lunch. I was surprised it looked like a hushpuppie as I was expecting something like a crab cake. After tasting Riff’s first two amazing dishes, I dove right in unafraid. It was yummy! Perfectly fried so it wasn’t too greasy and had great flavor. Nothing fishy like I imagined. The grits were cooked beautifully and paired nicely with the cod cake. I loved the aioli with it as well. A nice touch with a subtle kick of that habanero heat.

Salted Cod Cake

For our last course, we enjoyed a Savory Bread Pudding with Tomato Jam and it featured Kenny’s Havarti with Cranberry. I’m not used to my desserts being savory, but this hit the spot. The texture was the same as a sweet bread pudding. I could taste the tart from the cranberries in the Havarti and it was a nice contrast to the tomato jam. An unexpected, but tasty twist on classic bread pudding.

Bread Pudding

Here’s the whole gang! I must say that was one of the best Saturdays. I’m now hooked on Kenny’s cheese and very impatiently waiting for the grand opening of Riffs Food Truck. A huge thanks to Kenny’s and Riffs for an unforgettable day!

Kenny's Cheese Field Trip Group

For Nashvillians, find Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese at The Turnip Truck, The Produce Place, and Whole Foods to name a few. You can also order online straight from Kenny.

Riffs Food Truck should be hitting the streets of Nashville this May. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on their whereabouts.

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11 Responses to “Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese & Riffs”

  1. #
    1
    Lesley Eats — March 22, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    I’m enjoying reading all the various accounts of the trip. But it sure is making me sad I missed it!

    • Leah replied: — March 22nd, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

      It’s been fun to see everyone’s pictures and take on the day. You sure were missed! Our little blogging group is turning out to be a lot of fun. Next time!

  2. #
    2
    Shannon — March 22, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    I’m so sad I missed it too. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into some of that Norwood…you are sharing right?!?! Ha!! I can’t wait to meet the Riffs Truck guys too! The Pork Croustade with Pear Chutney and the Salted Cod Cake sound amazing!

    • Leah replied: — March 24th, 2011 @ 9:39 am

      Oh the food was incredible! Cheese heaven!

  3. #
    3
    Heather — March 24, 2011 at 8:47 am

    What a great summary! It’s fun to see how each blogger has taken a different angle on our trip. I am so hoping I can get mine up today. I’ve been bogged down in pictures! Great job!

    I think I’m the only one who didn’t like the Norwood. I’m a soft, creamy cheese girl, so I’m in love with the Brie!

    • Leah replied: — March 24th, 2011 @ 9:38 am

      Thanks! And it was so nice meeting you! I liked all of their cheeses. My stash is dangerously low, so I’m planning on loading up this weekend, lol!

  4. #
    4
    Lannae — March 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    What a great blog and photos on your blog about Kenny’s Cheese! I love Kenny’s Cheese! I am sorry I missed it. It seems that I have many double and booked food events these days. Having missed the trip makes seeing your blog and photos that much better! I enjoyed this so much!

    • Leah replied: — March 27th, 2011 @ 6:39 pm

      Thanks, Lannae!

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