When Ian Anderson purchased sheep for a petting zoo at his Caves Branch Resort, cheese making was not on his mind. The petting zoo blossomed to showcase sheep, goats and chickens in an environment where children from across the country could touch and hold small animals. After collecting the eggs, egg sandwiches were served to the children and they were given glasses of sheep or goat milk to enjoy.
Given Ian’s natural exploring instincts, it wasn’t long before he yearned to produce something with his milk. Internet searches yielded many recipes for cheese which he tried. Ian’s wife, Ella, and son Gabe, who was the chief taster, were supportive of the culinary venture, but encouraged him to find proper cheesemaking classes. After more prowling on the internet Ian found an article on cheesemaking by a Vermont family of professional cheese makers, the Faillace family of Three Shepherds Farm, in Warren, Vermont. In September of 2011, Ian flew to New England and took a two week course with Dr. Larry and Linda Faillace on their farm. On his return, Ian again tackled cheesemaking, beginning with one gallon batches, working up to the current 30 gallons per day production. Caves Branch now has a 500 sq. ft. working cheese kitchen, with a 250 sq. ft. wine and cheese tasting room attached. There is a glass half wall enabling tasters to watch what is going on in the kitchen. A 12 x 14 walk-in aging room kept at 55° F completes the set up. A relationship with the Vermont Faillaces has resulted in their visiting Caves Branch on various occasions as Ian continues improvements in the facility and expands his product line.
Currently all cheeses are made with cow’s milk, purchased from a neighbor’s dairy. This winter, Caves Branch will be importing both milk goats and more sheep from the U.S.A.
Semi-hard cheeses such as Old Brabander, Spressa, Trappist, Parmesan and soft cheeses, such as Ricotta, whipped Quark Feta, Roquefort and triple crème Camembert are offered for sale. The soft cheeses are often blended with herbs, peppers or garlic. Marketing began at the local market and over facebook to friends. Two resorts are already serving Caves Branch cheeses to their guests and the growing trend to ‘serve local’ is increasing demand.
Guests at Caves Branch who wish to spend a relaxing day learning to make cheese can do so at the facility. Those who wish to learn more are invited to attend one of the International Cheese Making Workshops (see ad on facing page) scheduled for January of 2013. Visitors are welcome to contact the resort to schedule a wine and cheese tasting session.
All the ingredients to produce the cheeses are donated by the Andersons and all of the proceeds from the cheese sales are donated to fund the ‘youth at risk’ programs of the Belize National Youth Chess Foundation, which Mrs. Ella Anderson founded and chairs.
Contact Caves Branch to purchase their artisan cheeses, learn more about wine and cheese tastings or their International Cheese Making Workshops at 610-3451 or e-mail: email@example.com