In a very real sense, those of us who care about the Buy Local movement are playing catch up to the Jewett family, who were doing local long before most of us knew or cared about where our food came from. Having settled in Earlville in the 1960s, by the early 1970s the Jewetts had opened their Cheese House on Earlville Road, making them one of the oldest cheese producers in Central New York.
Today, Jewett’s is run by Terri Jewett Larkin. In addition to the dozen of so New York State Cheddars made for Jewett’s by the McCadam Cheese Company of Chateguay, NY, which are stored and aged in a warehouse across the road, Jewett’s also boasts a nice selection of other cheeses, including some extraordinary goat’s milk cheeses from Painted Goat Farm, located in Otsego County. The Jewett’s Cheddars range from 2 and 3 years old up to 10-, 12- and even 16-year-old aged cheeses, which have identifiably unique flavors and textures. I particularly liked the 10-year-old Cheddar named “The Colonel,” which combined the XXX sharpness of aged Cheddar with a nice creaminess and a hint of granularity.
Foods and food samples are everywhere, with jams, jellies, and condiments from a number of NY State producers, honey and maple products from local farms, pancake mixes and flours from New Hope Mills of Auburn, NY, mustards from Foothill Hops Farm, which is leading a revival of New York State’s hops industry, and Nunda Mustard, along with racks of candies and snacks, bulk herbs, beans and spices, and a wall of refrigerated products. Terri is clearly selective about what she purchases, however, because the shop is well and deliberately stocked.
We are very fortunate that the number of talented cheesemakers and boutique food producers in Central New York has grown considerably in the past few years. And as last week’s Buy Local festivities made clear, Madison County is home to several of the region’s best locavore restaurants and organic/sustainable farms (Drover Hill Farm, which produces outstanding Angus beef, is next door to the Jewett’s shop). There is something to be said for being one of the first businesses to think local, however, and the Jewetts have been doing local longer than just about anyone.
Jewett’s Cheese House is located at 934 Earlville Rd, just a mile or so south of the Poolville Country Store (which despite its name is one of Madison County’s top locavore restaurants), and about ten minutes from downtown Hamilton. Cheeses can also be ordered on-line via Jewett’s website or by calling them at 800-638-3836. The shop is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, and most Sundays from 10:30 am to 3:00 pm (the shop is closed on Saturdays).