Michael Lee doesn’t own goats anymore but still makes artisan goat cheeses on his farm in West Cornwall, Vt. The animals reside at neighboring farms and when he picks up his supply of goat milk, a few times a week, he says hello to his former kids and does. Lee started out as a cheese buyer and seller at Formaggio Kitchen, both at the Cambridge and South End, Boston, shops. After a few years and a trip to Italy, he says, “I saw there were cheeses not being made here that should be made.” The native Mainer moved to Vermont in 2004 and started making cheese with a local cheesemaker. Soon he was making his own varieties, bought some goats, but eventually realized he’d need dozens more to make the venture profitable. He sold the herd to focus strictly on cheesemaking, using goat and some cow milk from nearby Vermont farms. Today, Lee makes six different cheeses ($25 to $30 per pound), amounting to 6,000 to 7,000 pounds each year. All require aging, which ranges from two to 12 months, depending on the style of cheese. “It’s a seasonal business,” he says, explaining that what the goats are eating and when they’re milked will determine the richness of the milk. “I try to make a cheese reflective of a particular place at a particular time.” Lee, the sole owner of Twig Farm, starts making cheeses at the end of February and wraps up at Thanksgiving. (When not making cheese in winter months, he’s making snow at a nearby ski mountain.) He is primarily known for his Goat Tomme, a semi-firm raw milk cheese aged between three and five months. Mixed Drum is another popular wheel, a blended cow and goat milk cheese aged about seven months. Fuzzy is the mildest cheese in his repertoire, aged two to three months, and Old Goat, as the name implies, is the most funky. Available at Formaggio Kitchen, 358 Huron Ave., Cambridge, 617-354-4750, and 268 Shawmut Ave., Boston, 617-350-6996; Curds&Co, 288 Washington St., Brookline; and online at www.twigfarm.com.
Lisa Zwirn can be reached at email@example.com