Monday, November 12, 2012

A Visit to Houston Dairymaids in the Heights

Houston Dairymaids is a cute little cheese and specialty food shop in the Heights. Five years ago, seasoned cheese professional, Lindsey Schechter set out to explore artisan, local, well-crafted cheeses made in Texas, as well as other parts of the world.  Feeling that some of the local finer foods stores did not have enough local, organic products, she set out to explore what was available from local dairy farms and to bring their products to Houston.   She met artisan Texas cheese-makers  learned about their craft, and brought the best of their products to Houston. Houston Dairy Maids specifically looks for cheeses that are naturally made by hand, and, when possible, from unpasteurized milk.  I've not seen too many seasoned cheese mongers outside of Montreal, so having such a shop locally for the past five years and only knowing about it for the past year or so, I fought construction traffic this past weekend in order to pay them a long overdue visit.

 When you come in you are greeted by one of their friendly staff.  This is a small shop, but it has an extensive selection of wheels and other products in the coolers.  There are different cheese plate tastings offered every day up on the "Cheese Board" as I like to call it--and this is wayyyy more than just sliced smoked Gouda served by Marshall Eriksen from "How I Met Your Mother!"

Hayley runs a tasting
On this lovely Sunday Afternoon, Hayley and Jarntip were running the show and had a nice selection of 6 cheeses to choose from. On this particular day the cheeses to try were called Chimney Rock, Little Boy Blue--a mild Bleu Cheese, Latte Da'caersphilly--a Welsh cheese that reminded me a bit of a sharp cheddar, Marieke Cumin Gouda--smooth but would work well with chili, Redneck Cheddar--very poignant made in MacGregor with Saint Arnold's Beer in it; and June's Joy--a sweet herbed soft goat cheese.  Hayley and Jarntip both did great breakdowns on the cheeses, offered some nice crackers and nuts as palate cleansers between tastes, and gave suggestions on different pairings with the cheeses.

Cheese Curds from Mill King 
A couple of things that I really liked about Houston Dairy Maids:

1. The staff has actually traveled around to visit many of the farms that make the cheeses, and had very good insight into what went into making them.

2.  The staff clearly loves cheese and is very knowledgeable about what goes into making cheese, what temperature it is best served at and how to pair their cheeses well with food and drink.

3.  The staff is friendly and willing to help you find what you want, and see if it can be ordered locally.

Wheels of Cheese.... sooooo Gouda!!! 
I'm especially happy with Houston Dairy Maids because they finally have Fresh Cheese Curds that aren't shipped frozen from out of state as has been the case in the past.  Mill King Cheese curds come from a Texas farm and they have a great squeaky consistency when allowed to warm to the proper temperature.  They are great for making Poutine, as I have said before in this blog and I am just over the moon that we now have a good local source for them at the moment.

If you're in the mood to explore new cheeses and learn about different Texas cheeses, you need to drop by and pay them a visit.  I guarantee you'll leave having bought a bag full of good cheese and will be quite happy and satisfied as well.

Houston Dairy Maids is located at:
2201 Airline Drive
Jarntip runs a Cheese Plate for the customers
Houston, TX 77009

Hours of Operations:
Tuesday thru Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Eat Happy, Y'all!!!

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