June 17, 2009
We ventured out to Pescadero a few weeks back, which is about an hour south of San Francisco, to visit Harley Farms Goat Dairy. It was such a special Umamiventure- Yoko was here from Tokyo, and Jenny and Mitch from NYC! It was the first time on a goat farm for many of us, and I can say with confidence that we all had a delightful time. Here’s what everyone thought- photos by myself and Thien Vu.
I had such a good time at Harley Goat Farm! Who knew there was another special place in Pescadero besides the Arcangeli bakery!? I had never hung out with goats before. I always thought they were skittish animals, but they’re actually quite friendly and curious like dogs.
We were encouraged to linger with the goats as long as we wanted. I think my very favorite part was hanging out with the babies because I could get down low and hug them and I didn’t fear getting pushed over or nibbled on. As of that day, there were 267 babies, so there were lots of cuddle options.
There were these cuddly sheep and llamas too!
The sheep sort of kept to themselves, despite the fact that all I wanted to do was snuggle with them. The llamas, however, were super friendly and loved the attention. Janet, our tour guide, said that they are natural born watchmen and protect the goats from predators- such as coyotes. Llamas are quite graceful, gorgeous creatures.
Everyone on the farm is so nice and friendly. Even though it’s clear that there is always a ton of things to do on the farm, anyone will pretty much stop and chat with you to answer your questions.
Milking the teet of a goat was the highlight of the Harley Goat Farm Tour. For $20 a person, the tour included a chance to frolic with goat and sheep, smell their excrement, milk their teets, visit the cheese making facility and taste the cheese in their magically rustic barn turned dining hall.
Milking a goat required a simple motion where you make an “OK” gesture with your hand, put the teet in the “O” part, and tighten. Once the “O” part is firmly gripping the teet, the middle, index and pinky finger (in that order) wrap around the teet.
There were about 30 people on the tour so I only got to milk one teet, once. The task was very hands-on and satisfying as the product (goat milk) appeared right in front of you. I wouldn’t mind envisioning a life of milking teets at five in the morning everyday.
Milking a goat is fun.
Oh, and my other favorite part was eating Harley’s signature Monet cheese that our tour guide had just put together in front of our eyes. It was so fresh and smooth, with a layer of herbs in the middle that complemented the sweetness of the cheese. We got to eat different all sorts of different cheeses to our hearts’ and tummies’ content. I didn’t want it to end!
Seperating the cheese from the whey.
Harley’s award-winning Monet cheese.
The barn turned dining hall was also a highlight of the tour. A long dining table that was a slice of a huge oak tree was the centerpiece. The slab of wood was curvy, kind of like the long curvy roads of 84 that took us to Pescadero. The chairs were also curvy.
The whole atmosphere of the dining hall reminded me of Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas (the country barn version). It was really imaginative and cozy. The next time I make the trip out to Pescadero I would really like to try the $120 evening meal at this barn.
Besides the long, motion sickness-inducing road that leads to Pescadero (don’t eat In-and-Out beforehand), I would totally recommend a visit to Harley Goat Farms. The cheese is amazingly smooth and the staff (and goats) are really friendly and pleasant. Lending me some of their vibrant energy was definitely worth the $20.
Harley goat farm was such an amazing experience!! Normally I’m skeptical about arranged tours but it was great to experience every step of the operation, from seeing how the goats live, to milking… to chevre! As an eater, I think any opportunity to see how food is made and produced is incredibly valuable- and tasting that goat cheese on the premises made it all the more pure in flavor and experience.
It’s a very green farm in the middle of the Bay Area – which used to be a farming area, but it’s thought of more as the Silicon Valley now. The amount of effort that they put into being green and sustainable is amazing.
This visit was certainly a fantastic, hands-on learning experience, from start to finish. Definitely book your spot in advance- the tours fill up quite quickly, and they can get quite large (there were nearly 30 people in our group!).
Thanks to everyone who made it out, to Harley Farms for accommodating all of us, and to Janet for a great tour. We’ll be back!
*Umamiventures are organized monthly, traveling far and wide in search of good, cheap grub. Join the UM Facebook Fan Page to stay updated on all future events. Hope to see you soon!