Looking Glass Creamery (Formerly in Asheville, now in Columbus) likes to say that it’s all about the milk. Great milk means great cheese, and great cheese means thousands of happy customers.
What impressed us most about Looking Glass Creamery is that it’s not some hipster operation set up to lure tourists. It’s an honest-to-goodness dairy farm, with owners who pride themselves on creating the finest dairy products possible. That pride shows in the way staff encourages customers to learn more about what they do. Everything about their operation, from how the cows are fed to their everyday production practices, is transparent. Not only do they want people to be comfortable buying from them, but the folks at Looking Glass Creamery are also proud of the way they do business and want to share it with the public.
As tempting as it might be to imagine business owners as “overseers,” nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to owners Andy and Jennifer Perkins. Andy, who takes care of sales and distribution, stays busy milking cows and doing maintenance around the farm. He’s also the guy who is likely to make deliveries to shops and restaurants. Jennifer Perkins is not only an owner, but she’s also a cheese maker who milks cows and does administrative and accounting work. The rest of their staff appears to be equally talented and diverse. It doesn’t take long on the farm to get the sense that it takes everyone on staff to keep the operation running.
Looking Glass Creamery looks like a dairy and cheese farm (in the best possible way). The old wooden farmhouse is picture-perfect in its pastoral setting. In spite of how humble the creamery may appear, it has become a real player in the cheese world. Not only have the Perkins won a healthy collection of awards for their handcrafted cheeses since opening in 2009, but their reputation grew so quickly that Williams-Sonoma selected their cheese to represent the North Carolina Collection in their catalog.
Trying different cheeses is, perhaps, the best part of a trip to the farm. Here are three we thought were particularly memorable:
Fun fact: we just learned what a drover is. It’s a person who moves animals over long distances. It was drovers who moved livestock down the mountain to market in North Carolina’s early days. As far as Drovers Road cheese, it’s the Creamery’s version of classic English cheddar. Like cheddar, it’s rich and buttery, but we found it a bit denser. That’s a good thing when you consider all it can be paired with, including wine and warm bread.
The bear wallow cheese may take some a moment to warm up to. Made with raw milk, this reminded us of Swiss cheese that’s been infused with earthy flavors. You might try it on a sandwich, paired with beef and stone ground mustard.
This is not cheese, but we had to mention it. More commonly called Dulce de Leche, this jar of deliciousness is filled with caramel sauce that was made in a copper kettle. There are no gums, stabilizers, or preservatives so what you end up with is the marriage of pure milk and sugar. We can tell you, it’s amazing with apple slices and drizzled-on chocolate cupcakes. We’re also thinking it would be great in coffee or on ice cream. To be perfectly honest, it’s pretty good straight from a spoon too.
The Creamery has become an important part of the community and plays a role by hosting (and taking part in) events designed to educate and entertain the public. From what we heard, it’s the kind of place locals try to visit as often as possible. With fresh dairy that close to home, it’s hard to blame them.
If you’re with children and at least one other adult, you may consider taking turns inside the very small shop. While one of you checks out available dairy items, the other can introduce the kids to one of the very friendly goats on the premises.