You could pass by the entrance 40 times and never know it's there. The discrete left-hand turn onto Sugar House Way looks more like a driveway than a road and as you make your way toward #18 you can't help but wonder where the wardrobe was, how you fit your car through it. Stepping out of my car I half expected to be greeted by a scarf-wearing, umbrella-toting, sardine-eating Mr. Tumnus. Instead, I was met by Stella, driver of the Sugar House Creamery welcome wagon and a moment later by Margot Brooks; Creamery owner, cheesemaker extraordinaire and mother-to-be (note to the universe; if I could please have that vitality, energy and complexion when I'm 7 months pregnant, I'll be your best friend).
There is an enveloping sense of pastoral perfection at Sugar House Creamery. Margot and Alex have poured themselves not just into their cheese, but also into the farm experience. As she takes me through the creamery she tells me about taking the place from a fading, maple sugarhouse memory to vibrant dairy farmstead present. There is blood, sweat, tears and more love than all three combined in these buildings; from the cheesemaking rooms (locked behind closed doors to maintain their strict hygienic standards) to the milking room, where their herd of 10 Brown Swiss cows is milked twice daily, to the cellar underneath, home to aging Dutch Knuckle, their signature cheese. Knowing they wanted their dairy to be friendly to visitors whenever possible, Margot and Alex went to great pains to ensure Sugar House Creamery is not only welcoming but inspiring; immersing you in the farmstead life the moment you arrive and impressing on you the passionate craftsmanship that goes into the farm-to-table community.
The unique story of Sugar House Creamery is not limited to the surroundings, picturesque as they may be. The cheese itself is as much a part and product of the landscape as the rolling pastures the Sugar House herd graze, the buildings that sit on the land and the people that live and work in them, we are what we eat and we eat what we are. Margot mentions this in passing, but it's an ineffable truth that warrants real consideration. The character of what we eat comes from its environment; if one element is changed you have an entirely new product. Take the Sugar House Creamery Poundcake (a beer-washed, pasteurized cheese), the character of what goes into it is based on the character of the cows' milk, which is based on what the cows eat, which is based on nearly unquantifiable factors as obvious as rainfall and pollution or as subtle as the diet of the landowners and their composting efforts.
As a great king once said, "Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance." It's this balance that makes the farms and dairies of small producers a fascinating stop on your High Peaks adventure and farm-to-table cuisine a unique way to experience even more of our Adirondack circle of life. Cue the sun rising over Cobble Hill, Adirondack Mountain folk music vocalizations and a flock of Canadian geese flying over a herd of Brown Swiss cows.