navigating the greensgrow cheese fridge with katelyn repash


Note: This post was previously published here as a part of my freelance work.
Last week I had the great pleasure of sitting down to talk cheese with Greensgrow’s new Fresh Food Assistant Manager, Katelyn Repash.

Katelyn came to Greensgrow this season fresh off a line of great experience. She began to meddle in the local food scene while attending Dickinson College; from there she worked at a livestock farm in Emmitsburg, MD and spent two years apprenticing at Charlestown Farm in Phoenixville. This past winter she made the big move to Philadelphia, and found herself in a brief stint with DiBruno Brothers before coming to Greensgrow. Needless to say, this girl knows the local farm scene, and a heck of a lot about cheese.

And a good thing too because Katelyn has taken over the dairy fridge. This summer she’ll be bringing in new farms and varieties to delight our little Greensgrow senses. For all you Calkin’s and Keswick Creamery fans, no fear. She’ll be keeping the staple producers in good stock, but keep an eye out for fun new varieties such as the Keswick Wallaby, a mild aged cheese that will melt in your mouth…or on your mac n’ cheese. After bringing a few varieties home myself, I personally got excited about the new Keswick Creamery Dragons Breath. Made with three different kinds of hot peppers – habañero, birds eye, and jalapeño – it adds the perfect amount of creamy spice to set your cooking on fire. One to keep an eye out for in future CSA’s is Stoudt’s Lady Bell Swiss. The brewery turned cheese maker has smoked this Swiss variety, and Katelyn describes the flavor as, “kind of bacon-y, a little gouda-y, but not as sharp.” 

No matter which variety you’re going to try next, you’ll want to make sure you taste them at the optimal temperature. For most aged varieties, such as Ely Farm’s Washington’s Crossing or Calkin’s Creamery’s Cow Tipper, Katelyn suggests letting the cheeses reach room temperature; while fresh cheeses such as Wholesome Dairy’s Ricotta are best consumed cold or baked in an oven.
Now, let’s get to a Q&A with Katelyn!
If you were going to make a five cheese cheese plate with all of the options in the Greensgrow fridge, which would you choose, and what would you pair them with?
I typically go for sweeter, mild, and nutty cheeses if I’m eating them by themselves. If I had to build a cheese plate the lineup would be Wholesome Dairy Ricotta, Washington’s Crossing, Firefly Farm’s Merry Goat Round, Calkins Cowtipper, and a fresh chevre. These all lean towards flavors that are sweet, nutty, and/or fresh, and are the go-to cheeses if I’m building a cheese board for dessert.

Some of my favorite cheese pairings involve our classic farmstand items as well as new and occasional items. Recently, I’ve been wild about Washington’s Crossing cheese from Ely Farm. I like to eat it paired with a fruit jam like those we sell from Fifth of a Farm. I’ve also been curious about coffee and cheese pairings, and I often add a fresh cheese like quark, chevre, or ricotta to my weekend brunch spreads with some maple syrup to compliment the freshly brewed Rival Bros. coffee. We’ve also been trying out some new Epic Pickles flavors and their sweeter pickles really compliment the spicy cheeses such as Keswick’s Dragon’s Breath (pictured above).
You’ve brought some new farmers to the selection, which is one that you are particularly excited to be carrying and why? 
I’m really excited to start carrying goat’s milk cheeses from Yellow Springs Farm. When working in Phoenixville last year we were a host site for their CSA, so I have tried out many of their cheeses. I think they have some unique items. They do a lot of aged goat cheeses with very interesting rinds. This week we will have their chevre flavors as the first CSA cheese for the season, and then we’ll start stocking their cheeses in our retail fridge! They also make a goat’s milk yogurt that’s very light and fresh and we’re hoping to stock that as something new on the farmstand!

What is something that excites you about the local cheese market? How do you think it stands up against others around the world? 
The most exciting thing, to me about the local cheese market, is the wide variety of styles being produce within a radius of 150 miles. In any given week, we’re able to bring in local goat, sheep, and cow’s milk cheeses in nearly any style we could imagine (from classics like cheddar and ricotta to inventive alpine and brie styles). Some farms have their own signature cheeses developed specifically for the milk they are using. Since we’re not known for a particular cheese regionally, there’s a lot of freedom to try new things and there’s always a customer base looking for unique dairy items.
Which cheese in the fridge is your personal favorite, and what is the best way to use it?
My favorite cheese in the fridge right now is Washington’s Crossing from Ely Farm (pictured above). Lately I’ve been shredding it finely to add to sauces or roasted vegetables. It adds a creamy, subtly sweet flavor when blended into sauces. Over the weekend I made a dish with leeks and pancetta in a white wine cream sauce, and I threw a half cup of shredded Washington’s Crossing in at the last minute to melt – it was perfect!

So what’s the wild card – the one that people might hesitate over, but absolutely need to try?
The wild card in general is anything with a bloomy rind (brie and camembert style soft cheeses). We rotate which ones we bring in and try to only have one or two at a time because we know customers are hesitant without sampling them first. Bloomy soft cheeses can be a gamble because they have a strong flavor. I’d still encourage people to try them – it’s a worthwhile risk. Two that we’ve stocked recently which I really enjoyed were Noblette from Calkins Creamery and the Merry Goat Round from Firefly Farm. I’m hoping to bring them back soon. They are great cheeses for entertaining, and we’re always happy to pass on the backstory about our farms to our customers – they both have a story to go along with them!

Thank you, Katelyn! And thank you, Greensgrow, for letting us explore the cheese fridge!

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