Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dairy goats and a cheesemaker, for Shavuot!

Yesterday we celebrated the Jewish holiday of Shavuot on which it is traditional to eat dairy food, and LOTS of it.
In the past week Israelis purchased THREE times the normal amount of cheeses and dairy products.

Nothing can beat goat and sheep cheese--in taste, texture, and appearance.
These are the young bucks which will sire the does which will produce the milk which will be transformed into cheese.

But this is the master cheesemaker and only he knows how to create the delicious prize-winning artisan cheeses of many varieties!
Shai Seltzer learned to make cheese thirty years ago and ever since, to quote the farm's lovely website, "Shai has won acclaim worldwide as an instructor and mentor of dairy goat farming and cheese making."
Learn about the cheese in the cave and the specially-bred herd, about the hills that have known agriculture for 6,000 years, and about Shai--all at the website (linked above).
Or, take a hike or a drive up the mountain and meet this fascinating man in person.
Follow the sign with the doe that says goat cheese.
You might want to click and enlarge this photo.
Even zoomed in, it looks far away. It is the view across the valley, from my hill in the Jerusalem Hills, looking toward Har Eitan mountain.
You see the little white dots in the center, in the middle of nowhere?
That is where Shai lives and works.
He built it all from scratch years ago. A real pioneer.
Besides being Shavuot, today is also the day for our bloggers' weekly animal meme, Camera-Critters Sunday.


shopannies said...

thank you for sharing pictures allow us to see a different world

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Wow, I always enjoy your lessons on life in Israel.

Reader Wil said...

Very interesting! I read this post with pleasure, because I love goat cheese and I buy it every week! I should be delighted to meet the prize winning cheesemaker Shai.

Brenda said...

Thank you for visiting me and wishing me well tomorrow! I will come back and read some more or your blog. I love to know how people from areas in the world live and what your daily life is like. This post sounds very interesting to me.

Anonymous said...

I love the artisan cheeses! Goat cheese is rare here, but there is a little Italian grocery in Krebs, Oklahoma that makes and sells their own caciocavallo cheese.

Thanks for the photos and the lesson!

Anya said...

Lovely story !!
Its nice to reed
your live in Israel;)
Fantastic shots :)

Snap said...

Beautiful goats and I bet they make wonderful cheese. Thanks for sharing your world with us.

Kay said...

Happy Shavuot to you, Dina! I don't think I've tried goat cheese yet. It must bring back memories of your time on the Heifer farm.

Dina said...

Kendris, your comment about caciocavallo cheese was a revelation! I've never seen the name. But now I understand why a generation ago Israelis used to call a certain cheese we loved to eat katchkaval !

Thanks a lot, Shpannies, Yogi, Brenda, Anya, and Snap!

Wil, come on over and we'll take a hike to Eitan Mountain. My Dutch friends here near the village go home often and bring back amazing Dutch cheeses.

Kay, yes, I did take care of the sheep and goat flocks at Heifer Ranch and did some goat milking, but never made cheese. Doing this post did remind me, however, of how I worked hard in 1994-5 at a sheep farm/dairy in an Israeli moshav. Loved it.

Jedediah said...

Goat cheese is delicious! I read the wiki entry on Shavuot and I love the comparison of the Thora being as "milk and honey under your tongue" - very poetic.

You asked about the anonymous urn burials: many people don't want to have a marked grave that their children need to care for and so choose to be buried anonymous or want it for other reasons (no next of kin, don't want to spend money on the graveside ect.). Some would prefer for their ashes to be scattered outside a cemetery, but at the moment that is not possible in Germany (at least, not officialy, although there are ways to make it happen) and an anonymous urn burial is the next best thing maybe.

Another variety is being buried in a so called Friedwald ("peace forest") also known as a natural or woodland burial, where unmarked urn graves cluster around trees. But here the family at least knows which tree marks the burial site of their loved one.

Dina said...

Jedidiah, thank you for your very full explanation of the burial customs today in Germany. It sounds quite shocking to me as an Israeli. Here leaving a person's name on a grave is very important. Cremation is not allowed in Jewish law.
You read the whole Wiki article on Shavuot?! Good on ya. Guess I had better go do the same.

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy your posts! Thanks for sharing.

Robin said...

Yum! I'm salivating just thinking about all his wonderful cheeses. I should get back there, it's been ages.

The Good Life in Virginia said...

dina...we, my husband and i love goat cheese. enjoyed clicking through to Shai Seltzer web page and reading about his business.

Jedediah said...

Anonymous burials are at least frowned upon by the Catholic church, too. I knew about the tradition of placing small stones on gravesites and when you see it as a way of caring for the grave, keeping it visible, it makes a lot of sense.
Is it possible for non-Jews to visit Jewish cemeteries or would that be considered improper? There are a few Jewish cemeteries in Hamburg and I'd like to see them, but I don't want to intrude.

Joy said...

Amazing and interesting! Thank you for taking us away. :o)

Luna ( from Brazil ) said...

wow so interesting post! The last picture is fantastic!
Purrs and love from Brazil

Glennis said...

Thankyou for your answer to my questions.
I agree sheep cheese is lovely specially Feta, you enjoy all that dairy produce for your special day.

Pietro said...

Very interesting your explanation about life in Israel, Dina. Beautiful the series of images. A potent zoom sometimes is really very important: the reflex cameras have good zooms but I find a bit inconvenient to install quickly the heavy tele-objectives; the little cameras have effective incorporated zooms surely easier to use.

Anonymous said...

You know, Dina, I never tried Goat Cheese that I know about. But then during the war we ate things we never heard about eating. And my mom got so hungry for meat (it was rationed) that she saved money from the laundry she did in her old Wringer Maytag washing machine and ironing on Tuesdays using irons heated on the kitchen cook stove, that Herb Hamel paid her ($3.00 a week) until she got enough to buy the cheaper front quarter of one of Earl Idel's goats. We had no ice box or electric refrigerator so we had to either eat it up or let it spoil. Mom tried to fry it down and put it in Mason glass canning jars and she sealed it with lard but I don't know, to this day, if it worked or not. So I have had goat meat to eat and mom worked for an old man who raised goats and she used to milk a nanny and bring the small pail of milk in the house and pour it over my Corn Flakes. No amount of sugar would make it taste good.

I still like the looks of a goat though.

You probably remember when people lived and died at home and endured wakes. I wrote about it here.

Anonymous said...

Is there such thing as camel cheese? I remember you sent me a link where the discussion was whether camels were kosher or not (I think). I wish I still had that link.

JM said...

Goats have such nice funny faces! :-)
Wonderful portrait of the cheesemaker! Would love to try the cheese!

Sandy Kessler said...

how eduacating and wonderful

Gretchen said...

Never tried goat cheese or milk. How does the taste differ from cow?

Jew Wishes said...

What a wonderful post, with lovely photos.

I enjoy reading your blog, and viewing your photos of life.

kavita said...

i am glad i discovered you at KRISs blog....after going through each and every comment ,i think i can say i know a lot about goat-cheese though i have never tasted any...hope to do so one day.