by Tenaya Darlington, madamefromage.blogspot.com
Lori Sollenberger owns eight cows. From that limited milk supply, she makes eight different kinds of cheese, including a sharp, salty feta. It pairs beautifully with tomatoes, onion-heavy salads and even watermelon. “Just crumble some feta over the melon and add chopped mint,” she advises.
Hidden Hills has been making award-winning feta since 2005. The secret is raw milk. “I think you get a more complex flavor from raw milk,” she says. “You taste the naturally occurring bacteria.”
Sollenberger calls her feta “Boltonfeta” after the round hills (or “boltons”) that dot her farm, located off Route 30 between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. She runs her dairy with husband Rex Knepp, but is the sole cheesemaker.
Boltonfeta is made in the Greek style, typified by bold notes and a crumbly texture. Sollenberger ages her feta for 90 days and packs it in brine, the traditional method for storing this hot-weather cheese. “It’s actually pickled,” she explains. “As long as you keep it in the brine, feta will last pretty much indefinitely.”
Some fetas can be too salty, but Boltonfeta is just right. There’s a wonderful milkiness to the cheese—grassy and creamy—followed by a sharp finish reminiscent of certain blue cheeses. While I usually favor sheep’s milk fetas over cow’s milk varieties, Hidden Hills’ effort has made me reconsider my bias. I don’t remember the last time my garden tomatoes met a more perfect topping.
Hidden Hills Dairy, 1980 Ritchey Rd., Everett, 814-652-2775, hiddenhillsdairy.com