Dave Eagle of Eagle Mountain Farmhouse Cheese in Granbury speaks with a strong Texas swagger and often in a very direct, to-the-point manner. Before becoming a cheese maker, he practiced law. And I suspect that if you were involved in some type of litigation, you'd want him on your side of the table. He brings fervor to everything he talks about, including the cheese business.
Eagle initially got into cheese making after simply waking up one day and realizing it was time for a change. Several trips to Europe served as inspiration -- particularly small farmers markets in France, Germany and Switzerland where he discovered the subtle nuances and amazing flavor of handcrafted cheese.
After attending cheese school in Vermont, Eagle started making his own cheese in 2010. In 2011, his Birdville Reserve, a Trappist style cheese with what Eagles describes as a mountain wash, won first place in the American Cheese Society annual competition.
We recently got to chat a little about the cheese business in North Texas.
Is there a growing interest for local artisan cheese in the area? Interest has increased. When you look at films like Food Inc., and when you read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and Joel Salatin's Everything I Want to Do is Illegal, you've got a growing population that is starting to wake up to the industrial food system that is killing us or poisoning us. I think there's a natural gravitation towards more local, rich clean identifiable transparent food systems.
When you're out at farmer's markets, are you hearing more about that? Yes.
So, it's a growing concern? I don't think it's a growing concern. A growing awareness is probably a better term.
Do you have any advice for any budding cheese maker? Well, there's some generic advice. Like, do your homework.
I had a little bit going for me because I've been in business before, I'm an attorney, not that that's any magic, but it gave me some insight on where to go, what to look for and how to get stuff done. But it has to be something you're passionate about or you have to go do something else.
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And, don't plan on getting rich. This isn't a get rich quick thing, although I don't know what business is unless you're a politician in Washington, D.C. But, when you're doing something like this, you can make a living at it if you're passionate about it.
Are your classes designed for any level of cheese aficionados? We do classes in this in the spring and the fall -- three-day workshops. We just finished up an advanced workshop. We teach how to make cheese. We have people who felt like they might want to get into the business; some people want to sell retail, others who just want to learn about cheese. Some have a little farm and want to make a product for their own family.
Eagle Mountain Cheese can be found at all area Central Markets, Scardello, Bolsa Mercado and the White Rock Farmer's Market and Coppell's Farmers Market. As well as on the menus at Fearing's, Parigi, Central 214 and Bolsa.
This weekend you can meet Eagle at Central Market in Fort Worth on Saturday and Plano on Sunday.