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Giddy for goats

Goats—and goat cheese—are the star attractions at San Mateo County's only dairy.



When you think of small coastal towns in California, you probably think of beautiful beaches. But in Pescadero, a town about an hour south of San Francisco, something else is bringing in the tourists—goats!

Welcome to Harley Farms Goat Dairy in San Mateo County, where alpine goats are the star attractions. Dee Harley runs this 9-acre farm, looking after about 200 goats. It's the only dairy in the county.

Here at Harley Farms, the work is largely done by hand. A vegetable rennet and culture is added to the pasteurized milk to give it the initial yogurt-like texture. The mixture is then collected in cheesecloth bags, and the resulting curds are left to hang in them for about two days. Then the cheese is hand-kneaded and eventually packaged for customers to enjoy.

Harley Farms Goat Dairy sells its cheese to specialty stores like Whole Foods as well as restaurants at hotels such as The Fairmont and The Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco. But much of the cheese is also sold direct to customers through their website or their small store on the farm.

Harley Farms' feta, ricotta and fromage blanc cheeses constantly win awards from the American Cheese Society as well as other international awards. In fact Harley Farms has won more than 30 awards from the American Cheese Society.

What's the secret to their success? The answer may surprise you.

"Our secret ingredient is the grass that is grown in the wonderful soil," Dee said. "We are two miles from the ocean and it's often foggy in the summer and the fog grows the grass that the goats eat and it keeps our cheese tasting consistent. Therefore we really consider that our secret ingredient."

For more information about Harley Farms, visit www.harleyfarms.com.


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