Thursday, October 26, 2006

First Place for Artisan Goat Cheesemaker

Last week's National Dairy Goat Convention in Milwaukee brought big honors to a small artisan Wisconsin goat cheesemaker. In an emotional awards ceremony, Wisconsin's very own Felix Thalhammer of Capri Organic Creamery took home a blue ribbon in the Smoked Goat category and was honored by dozens of his national cheesemaker peers.

This is Felix's first blue ribbon since he started making cheese in 2001 and I'm not sure he's going to ever stop talking about it. Felix is quite a fellow. A native of Switzerland, his energy and exuberance are contagious. He has an opinion on just about everything and isn't afraid to try anything. A couple of years ago, he was the first dairy artisan in Wisconsin making goat's milk ice cream. Today, he hand crafts and sells a half dozen varieties of goat's milk cheeses every Saturday at the Dane County Farmer's Market in Madison. (That's Felix pictured above right with farmer Norm Monsen).

Felix first got into the goat business because one of his children couldn't drink cow's milk as a baby. So the family bought a few goats. Anyone who knows anything about goats knows that you don't have just a "few" goats for long. Soon Felix had to find another use for his growing supply of goat's milk, so in 2001 he started making cheese in a tiny (yes it's licensed) cheeserie on his farm in the rolling hills of Blue River, Wis. He now makes a host of flavored fetas, a "govarti" and is experimenting with a couple different hard, aged goat cheeses including one that I hear he's calling St. Felix.

Congrats to Felix and his family for an award long overdue. May the goat force be with you!