Western MD: South Mountain Creamery & Zest
- Nate Martin
My newest obsession is the South Mountain Creamery (link below) out in Middletown, MD. They make the most fruit/yogurt drinks I've ever had, delicious chocolate whole milk, an impressive range of cheeses, ice cream, butter and all other dairy products, as well as selling surprisingly inexpensive farm-fresh pork and beef (pork tenderloin for $3.99 per pound; bacon for $3 per pound; beef filet for $8 per pound). On the farm site they have a store that sells all this, as well as ice cream cones and milkshakes and a few products from local bakers, pastry shops, etc. If you're lucky enough to live just about anywhere in the Frederick area, though, they'll even deliver to your home! It's right near Washington Monument and Gathland State Parks, the Appalachian Trail, and not too many miles from Harpers Ferry or the C&O Canal, so it makes a great stop after a weekend afternoon spent in the outdoors.
Anyway, in my hunt for additional information about the Creamery I came across this restaurant out in Monrovia, near Frederick, that seems to have gotten some serious praise, called Zest. They were helping with the catering out at the Creamery's Family Farm Festival on Saturday, but their only contribution to the tasty pork bbq I ate was a decent but unremarkable roll (the barbeque was provided by Johnny's BBQ catering). I've been thinking about figuring out a way to convince someone to join me for a fancy dinner out at Zest, and wonder if anyone else has had any experiences with the place to recommend it or steer me away. The place has DC-type prices, so I want to be pretty sure about it before I head out there. Apparently Tom Sietsema reviewed it, but I want the Chowhound opinion to compare with his . . .
Whoa! Before talking about anything else let's talk about the South Mountain Creamery. They are suppose to have Guernsey cows whose milk and cream is higher in butterfat (i.e. richer) than other milk. I've also made homemade ice cream using Guernsey cream which was just incredible! (Sorry for my immodesty but it really was. Golden Guernsey dairy products from a place in Northeast, MD.) Anyway, it's my understanding that South Mountain makes their own ice cream using Golden Guernsey cream and milk. Is this true? Can you buy it at the farm? Most importantly, just how good is it? How much do they charge, etc.?
About their butter: is this made from Guernsey milk also? If it is, my God, this may be as good as any butter in France!
re: Joe H.
It's my understanding that all of the dairy products are made with their own milk, including the butter and the ice cream. At the store at the Creamery, you can buy everything they make packaged for home (including the ice cream), or get cones or milkshakes to consume on the spot (although, since it's a working farm, it can sometimes smell a bit ripe outside). They also sell about a dozen different flavors of yogurt in the normal, small containers, a lot of flavors of fresh farmers cheese . . . I think the full list of products is on the site. I'm not sure about the average fat content, but I know that what I've had so far has been pretty incredibly rich.
Like an idiot, I forgot to buy a pound of butter when I was out there on Saturday, even though I had plenty of space in the cooler I had taken along. There were hordes of children jockeying for position in front of the ice cream cooler, and it was difficult to remember everything I had thought about buying. It's on my *must try* list for the next visit, though. So far I've had the following:
- strawberry and raspberry yogurt smoothie drinks. Pricey at $3.00 per quart, but worth every penny, in my opinion. Ingredients: fruit, yogurt, nothing else.
- chocolate whole milk. $1.79 per quart. Sinfully rich, incredibly chocolatey. Could be the best I've ever tasted . . . I'll have to buy it a few more times to be sure.
- cheese: smoked swiss & horseradish cheddar, less than $6 per pound (both good, the horseradish is really strong).
- bacon ($3/lb.), which is still in my freezer.
- black raspberry milkshake. $3. Deep, dark purple, thick and delicious. About the price of Baskin-Robbins but much, much better and more "pure."
Each milk bottle you buy requires a $1.50 deposit, but that provides a good incentive to keep you coming back again and again! I know I'll be making numerous visits on the way to and from hiking and biking trips this summer and fall.