Pi(e) Day + The Art of Natural Cheesemaking
The Boil Advisory, Issue #19
Happy Pi Day! If this isn’t a “holiday” you feel like celebrating, you’re not alone there—it didn’t hold any significance for me prior to two years ago. But in 2020, in the last days before lockdown, Rémy organized a Pi Day bake sale at Bacchanal to help register new voters ahead of the 3/14 deadline. She posted an insta story about leftovers, and I snagged the last of the pies: a bourbon chocolate pecan beauty from Windowsill Pies. When she dropped it off, Rémy encouraged me to reheat slices in a skillet and to use butter to crisp the crust. We went on a Zoom date a week later and our COVID romance was born.
Given last year’s hiatus, this was our first parade season together, and we were both hesitant to give in to the (crowded/extroverted) spirit of Mardi Gras. We did, of course, and amid the chaos of it all was a feeling as comforting as that warm, buttery slice of pecan pie. It was so great to see friends out on the routes, smiling ear to ear with glittery cheekbones and wigs and handmade costumes—it’s a part of the infectious joy that balances out the gritty realities of life here in NOLA. That’s a really special thing to get to experience together.
With other events and larger festivals returning, we’ve got a busy spring ahead, so that’s our focus today. But first: cheese.
The Art of Natural Cheesemaking
TL/DR: Bayou Sarah Farms is hosting David Asher of The Black Sheep School of Cheesemaking March 23-27 for in-depth, hands-on instruction in The Art of Natural Cheesemaking, and as I’m writing this, there’s only one spot left!
Back in the fall, I took a trip to St. Francisville to meet Sarah Roland and tour Bayou Sarah Farms, which I’d been following on Instagram for some time. Sarah’s photos often make the farm look very idyllic, and that’s exactly what it is—250 acres of lush green, hilly pastures and hardwood trees. Fresh eggs? Check. Beehives? Got ‘em. Blueberries and muscadines? Yes, and so much more. Fresh milk? Straight from the…water buffalo.
Originally from Southeast Asia, water buffalo can now be found on six continents, but aren’t a common sight in the US, especially not here in Louisiana. Their milk has been used for cheesemaking for centuries—if you’ve eaten mozzarella di bufala, it’s right there in the name—and is richer in calcium, protein, and fat content than cow’s milk. But, it’s also harder to acquire, because water buffalo can choose if and when they want to drop their milk.
Sarah has been growing their herd since 2019, on acreage leased from the family, next to their grandmother and where they grew up as an energetic 4-H kid. To help with milking, they keep the calves separated from their mothers for part of the day, then reintroduce them for a feeding, followed by milking, and lots of grooming and attention—water buffalo are rather docile, affectionate creatures.
Sarah plans to eventually build a creamery and produce water buffalo gelato. In the meantime, they’ve invited David Asher of The Black Sheep School of Cheesemaking back to the farm for a five-day workshop on The Art of Natural Cheesemaking. Class starts next week and space is very limited, so clear the calendar and grab that last slot!
Also, follow Bayou Sarah on Instagram for more water buffalo content and a steady reminder of how beautiful Louisiana can be.
Not food-related: The world may be on fire but at least spiders aren’t “parachuting” from the sky. Oh, but they will be? That’s along the East Coast, though—we’re safe down here. (Right?) Just watch out for the raccoons. Birds are also a threat.
Somewhat restaurant-related: Mayor Cantrell took off her mask indoors, and now you can, too.
Very restaurant-related: Data shows that we’re now tipping less than we did pre-pandemic. (Editor’s note: I know we’re all stressing over gas prices and inflation, but let’s consider this a call to action?)
Hot dog-related: The Worcester Hot Dog Safari is coming to New Orleans on April 18 and helping to raise funds for NOLA Community Fridges.
More for the calendar:
3/17 - Louisiana Crawfish Festival (Chalmette)
3/18-20 - Amite Oyster Festival (Amite)
3/19 - Louisiana Redbud Festival (Vivian)
3/23-27 - The Art of Natural Cheesemaking (St. Francisville)
3/26 - Louisiana Crawfish Boil Championships (Marrero)
4/1-2 - Hogs for the Cause (NOLA)
4/8-10 - Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival (Ponchatoula)
4/21-24 - French Quarter Fest (NOLA)
4/22-24 - Boudin Festival (Scott)
4/29-5/1 - Plaquemines Parish Seafood Festival (Belle Chasse)
4/29-5/1 + 5/5-8 - Jazz Fest (NOLA)
That’s all for now, folks—we’ll focus on some restaurant news next time. As always, thank you for reading and sharing. And thanks to Sarah for inviting me to the farm!