As you guys know, I was a last minute addition to this year’s team to replace Brianne who unfortunately broke her foot. I’ve been honored to be part of the Cabot Fit Team twice before (in 2013 and 2015, both times for the Beach to Beacon 10k in Maine), so it didn’t take me long to agree to join the group again for the Vermont variation!
You guys know I’m a big Cabot fan – not just of the cheese, but also the company – everyone I’ve met that works there is so passionate about what they do. Cabot Creamery is a cooperative made up of 1,200 family dairy farms located throughout New England and New York, and 100% of their profits go back to their farmers. We know them best for their (amazing) cheddar cheese, but they also produce yogurt, cottage cheese, and other products, like this awesome Cabot cheddar shake (great on popcorn!).
I flew in to Burlington, Vermont on Friday early evening and met up with the gang in Middlebury at the adorable Swift House Inn where Cabot put us up for the weekend. It’s a former governor’s mansion and the original portion of the main house was build in 1814. Such a cute, cozy place! We met up at their lobby bar for cocktails on Friday before heading in to the casual dining room for dinner at the Inn restaurant, called Jessica’s. I started with the beet salad – my fave! It was a cool take on the usual cold beet salad – the spinach was sautéed!
As for dinner, I shared the maple glazed salmon and the crab cakes with Amanda. Both were amazing – loved getting to try two things, too!
Dessert was salted caramel ice cream. Soooo good. Love that salty/sweet combo!
On Saturday morning, I was up and out for a run! It was a beautiful morning and we didn’t have to leave the Inn until 10 for our farm adventures. Perfect opportunity to get in a little shake out jog before the half marathon on Sunday!
I was joined for the run by Sara Wing, Cabot’s on-staff dietitian, and we had a great time checking out the sites and stopping for pictures. Always love getting to see her and it was fun to have time to catch up one-on-one via our running shoes!
We ran around the Middlebury College campus and through the town a bit, too. So cute!
I forgot to wear my watch but we ran for about 35 or so minutes. Felt nice to move! Thanks again for the company, Sara!
Our group enjoyed a yummy breakfast at the Inn before heading out for a tour of one of Cabot’s nearby dairy farms, Kayhart Brothers Dairy Farm.
Kayhart Brothers Dairy spans 1,800 alluvial acres and two states – Vermont and New York – both along the picturesque shores of Lake Champlain. The farm generates more than 6,000 gallons of milk per day from their herd of 700 mostly Holstein cows. Quality is very important to them and they have been rewarded by multiple milk quality awards, along with a Dairy of Distinction Award and a Vermont State Conservation Farm of the Year Award. Impressive!
We enjoyed hearing more about the history of the farm from Steve Kayhart, whose family has owned the farm for about 30 years. When his parents purchased the farm in 1979 it had just 80 cows! In 1984, Lee Kayhart, Steve’s father, tragically lost both arms in a farm accident; amazingly, after spending three months recovering in the hospital, he returned to the farm and all the duties that accompany it. Pretty incredible! In 2010, Steve and his brother Tim purchased the farm officially from their parents.
You could tell how much passion Steve had for his work and for his cows – he said keeping them happy and healthy was their top priority. 🙂
I was also really inspired to hear Steve’s health story – he is in great shape nowadays, but wasn’t always that way – years ago he found himself well over 200 pounds. One day, his wife asked him to join her for a run near their farm over the beautiful bridge crossing Lake Champaign that connects Vermont to New York. He went with her, and it was hard, but felt really good. And he said he simply thought “Maybe I’ll go ahead and do that again tomorrow.” And he did. He eventually ended up running his first full marathon in 3:20 and went on later to qualify for and run the Boston Marathon. Amazing! He ran the half marathon with us on Sunday. 🙂
We got to take a tour of the farm as we learned more about it – our favorite stop was of course a visit to the baby calves. So cute!
I had to watch my hair near those tongues – they thought it was hay! 😉
Please note the tongue going for my hair in the photo below – and the calf behind her like “Hey! Is that tasty? Let me in on that!!”
So fun. 🙂
After our farm adventures, we headed back to the Inn for a late lunch – delicious sandwiches from nearby Noonie’s Deli in Middlebury. The thick homemade bread was so good! Mine had chicken, avocado, veggies, and mustard. Yum.
Dessert was this amazing salted maple lollipop from Richardson Farm!
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Middlebury checking out the shops and enjoying the lovely weather. I picked up some local maple hot sauce for Matt, too. 🙂
Our pre-race dinner on Saturday night was at American Flatbread, an amazing wood-fired oven pizza place a short walk from our Inn.
We started with a couple delicious big salads to share – the dressing was so good! A ginger-tamari vinaigrette with house-made raspberry vinegar. Yummmm.
And then we got a bunch of different pizzas to share! The crowd favorite was this bacon, apple, and Cabot cheddar pizza.
Although this creative Mexican-themed “salsa” pizza was a close second! I never would have thought to put black beans and salsa (and cilantro!) on pizza!
We also enjoyed the Vermont fennel sausage pizza (unpictured) and the “punctuated equilibrium” veggie pizza with goat cheese. Also delicious! Love that they were cut into small pieces so we could try them all without being stuffed, too. 🙂
We were certainly well fueled for the race! The pizza was super fresh and not greasy, either, so my stomach felt happy the next morning. 🙂
The final food adventure of the weekend was on Sunday afternoon after the half marathon – a cheese tasting! How fun!
One thing that we learned while on this trip is that some of Cabot’s dairy farms also produce their own small batch cheese to sell locally. It was fun to try some of them in addition to a couple unique/harder to find Cabot varieties! From left, we had:
- Bridport Creamery Farmstead Cheese Curd: so creamy! Paired really well with the dried peach
- Sweet Rowan Storm: looked like a brie but tasted like a blue cheese!
- Neighborly Farms Raw Organic Milk Cheddar: LOVED this one – so flavorful and sharp!
- Landaff Creamery Cheese: have you guys ever paired cheese with almonds before? SUCH a good combo – totally doing this in the future as a snack!
- Cabot Clothbound Cheddar: LOVED this one too – really flavorful! This Cabot cheese is unique in that it is a single source cheese (meaning all the milk to produce it comes from one farm) – the milk comes from Kempton’s Farm in Peacham, VT and it is aged at Jasper Hill Farm (along with the above Landaff cheese!)
- Cabot Artisan Cheddar: I’ve had this cheese before and always love it – it’s aged for 3 full years to give it even more intense flavor!
Fun fact: the different variations of Cabot cheese (e.g. sharp, extra sharp) aren’t specifically made – they are decided with a taste test! Awesome job, right? Apparently the flavor varies based on how long the cheese is aged, what temperatures are used during ageing, and even the time of year, because cows diets will change based on season, which affects the flavor of their milk! Cool. Also – all their cheese is naturally lactose free.
We also enjoyed a sampling of local beer, wine, and cider! I know, rough job, but someone’s gotta do it. 😉
- Lincoln Peak Vineyard La Crescent – very refreshing!
- Citizen Cider Unified Press – my favorite of the bunch – very drinkable!
- Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine IPA – apparently this is quite famous/sought after in the microbrew world!
- Lincoln Peak Vineyard Marquette – super bold and flavorful
- 14th Star Maple Breakfast Stout – delicious – I love anything with maple – and it smelled especially amazing!
- I was so sad to have to jet out partway through the tasting and head to the airport! The rest of the gang stuck around for one more night but I needed to get back for a busy workweek since this trip was so last minute. Regardless, it was an awesome end to a fun weekend. Thank you again to Cabot for having me and for covering my flight, accommodation, race, and meal expenses! As always, it was an honor to be on the Cabot Fit Team. 🙂 If you’re a blogger and interested in joining next year’s team, check out the Cabot Fit Team page where you can send over your info to be kept in the loop about next year’s application process!
- What’s your favorite kind of cheese? Have you ever done a cheese tasting or a farm tour before? What do you like pairing your cheese with?