When we discovered that there was a dairy on the island of Maui, I could hardly believe our good fortune. After all, my favorite food groups are the three Cs: chocolate, cabernet and cheese. So, after a morning of watching the sunrise at Haleakala National Park, and a tour of a lavender farm, we drove to the Surfing Goat Dairy in Upcountry Maui.
Surfing Goat Dairy produces and sells award-winning cheeses and offers visitors on Maui a variety of tours. The people we met were welcoming and seemed to truly love their jobs.
We took a casual tour, which for a fee of $10 included a personalized tour of the entire operation. We were able to see the goats, feed them, view the milking and cheese-making areas and taste a variety of the gourmet goat cheeses.
The first impression of this dairy is how well these animals are lovingly cared for. The dairy is Certified Humane Raised & Handled, which means that they don’t use any pesticides or herbicides and the goats have resting areas, shelter and sufficient space to engage in natural goat behaviors. They also name each goat in the herd after birth. Plus, as a bonus these goats get to live on Maui. German expatriates Thomas and Eva Kafsack own and operate the dairy. We learned that they moved to Maui more than a decade ago after leaving their previous professions. He led a software company and she taught high-school German in Germany. They brought with them the knowledge gained from visiting dairies throughout Germany, Austria and France.
The goats are milked twice a day, and then the milk is immediately pasteurized at a temperature designed to ensure that the vitamins are not harmed. It is then cooled down quickly for the cheese making. After adding organic cheese cultures and a vegetable rennet, they produce three types of cheeses: soft cheese, fresh chevre and quark, which is a European-style cheese also known as fromage blanc and has a consistency between yogurt and cream cheese.
The chevre cheeses were delicious and we found these cheeses frequently on the menus of many Maui restaurants. The list of hotel customers is impressive and includes the Ritz Carlton Kapalua and the Four Seasons in Wailea on Maui, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on the Big Island and a number of mainland hotels such as the Peninsula Beverly Hills and the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. The best surprise was a gourmet chevre called Men’s Challenge, which won a second place National Award in 2004 and would be a perfect substitute for horseradish for a holiday meal. The fruit quark was made with fresh organic fruits such as Kula strawberries, lilikoi and apple bananas. The aged Maui gourmet goat cheese comes in tempting flavors such as Napa Wrap (fresh chevre wrapped in grape leaves), MacGoatNut, Swedish Heart (caraway seeds in black cheese wax) and French Dream (herbes de Provence, in white wax). Their feta, plain and ripened five months in brine and olive oil, won a first place National Award in 2006.
Oh, and did I mention that they also make gourmet goat cheese truffles in flavors like toasted coconut, lychee, lilikoi, Hawaiian chili pepper and lavender?
From Kula, Surfing Goat Dairy is located 3.6 miles down Highway 37.