A few years back, Todd and Shereen Wilcox were Greenmarket shoppers, not unlike the readers of this site. "My wife would come with the cart from Brooklyn to this market, and take the cart back on the subway," Todd told me at the market last week. "So we always knew we wanted to sell here."
Five years ago the couple moved to Vermont for a ten-month internship at Does' Leap Farm. Shortly thereafter they moved to Halstead in Northern Pennsylvania with a dozen goats and started building. By January 2009, Ardith Mae was in business selling their own homemade cheeses. Now there are 31 milking goats at the farm, and Ardith Mae can be found at Greenmarkets and artisanal cheesemongers around the city.
The biggest seller at Ardith Mae's stand is the fresh chevre, which is lightly salted, smooth, and just a bit tangy. The Mamuth is a soft-ripened cheese, made in the style of a Camembert. It's hand-ladled into molds—just about everything is done by hand—and then flipped every day during the aging process. Here you have a cheese for those who proclaim they don't like goat cheese: while I was interviewing Todd he converted at least one nonbeliever.
If you're already a confirmed goat lover, look into the pyramid-shaped Bigelow. It's made from the same recipe as the Mamuth, but dusted with vegetable ash before aging and poured into a differently shaped mold, both of which result in a drier and sharper cheese. Ardith Mae also makes and sells two raw milk cheeses, including the Bevan, a washed rind cheese that falls into the "stinky" category.
Todd's favorite is the Mamuth:
We eat a lot of the chevre because you can do so much with it, but I just like the flavors of the soft-ripened Mamuth. The flavor is nice, the texture is nice, it's delicate. You should keep coming during the year--it changes a lot. It will get softer as the year goes on as the milk components change. Every batch is always a little bit different.
If you're at the market and spot the Ardith Mae stand, stop by for a taste or five—once you taste the Mamuth and Chevre, you're probably going to want to also try the Bigelow and the Franklin and the Bevan. And the Feta.
Ardith Mae Goat Farm can be found at the Union Square Greenmarket on Fridays, and at both the 77th Street and Columbia Greenmarkets on Sundays. For more info on where to buy Ardith Mae cheeses as well as some adorable pictures of goats, head to ardithmae.com.