“I am a huge fan of Crown Finish Caves,” says Michael Koch, Co-Founder and President of Firefly Farms. “They are the first (perhaps only?) dedicated affineur in the US focusing on the aging of the cheese in some down-right beautiful and hi-tech aging tunnels under the streets of Brooklyn. This business model — affinage as separate from cheese making — is an old and prevalent one in Europe for some pretty compelling reasons.”
FireFly started a dialogue with Crown Finish Caves in late 2019 about a partnership. At that time Firefly was making a cheese known as Bella Vita that had won critical acclaim — including a super gold at the World Cheese Awards, but had not been able to produce it in a large enough scale to achieve “critical mass” at a retail level.
FireFly faced some common barriers as cheese makers: 1) limited aging space, 2) cash-flow constraints associated with holding the cheese for 5-12 months of aging, and 3) lack of expertise and infrastructure for affinage. The Crown Finish Caves partnership directly addressed these constraints.
From Bella Vita was born Crown Finish Caves’ Carpenter’s Wheel — a good cheese made great through a partnership where each can focus on their strength: FireFly as cheese maker, Crown Finish Caves as affineur.
“I would hasten to add that our partnership moved into its first production phase in early 2020, just as the pandemic’s first body-blow to cheesemakers was being felt and fresh cheese sales were plummeting,” Michael says. “The Carpenter’s Wheel is our first collaboration. Made with 100% pasteurized goat’s milk the Carpenter’s Wheel is light in texture and full in flavor. It is a cooked curd masterpiece that is perfect for grating over pasta, folding into risotto, or just enjoying on its own with a fine balsamic vinegar. The goat milk lends a subtle softness to each wheel making it easily enjoyable for all palates, Carpenter’s Wheel is named after the ubiquitous barn hex that appears throughout its native state of Maryland — the barn hex that hangs on the FireFly Farm’s 1856 barn which housed their irst goat herd in 2001.”
Carpenter’s Wheel is available now and Firefly Farms hopes to make it a household name during the 2021 holidays.