LIVING UP TO SALUD

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Salud has worked for Harley Farms for 13 years, and knows instinctively by smell, or feel, or taste, if something's not quite as it should be. You cannot buy this kind of expertise, and she is the lynch pin of the dairy. She is as immaculate in appearance as in habit, and I know I have often let her down with my sloppier tidying! Salud, Norma, Rebecca, Luis and I took a two-day Spanish-language course in the science of cheesemaking, organized by the local cheese guild at the College of Marin. There were maybe 25 people from local dairies, all of whom knew their recipes back to front, but perhaps not the whys and wherefores of those recipes. We looked at the differences between cow and goat milk through microscopes (size of fat globules), we heard about how temperature affects the culture, we saw bacteria and measured pH. Everybody brought their cheeses on the first day, and by the way Salud and the others rushed to see them, I realized we should constantly be bringing cheeses to our dairy to taste and talk about. Mexico has a strong cottage industry of fresh cheese (queso fresco), but there are so many different cheeses here in the Bay Area.

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These two days with our staff made me vow to get a microscope and pH testing kit for our dairy, to incorporate into our routine and tours. It gave Salud and the others contacts at other dairies, with all the same day-to-day issues. And it reminded me how thankful I am for the consistency with which we run the dairy and control the ultimate flavor and quality of our cheese. I must just try and live up to my staff!

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