The words “Surfing Goat Dairy” has appeared on an increasing number of menus throughout Hawaii during the last few years. You may have thought: Cute name, but are there really goats on Maui? Are they really making cheese there—or just slapping a label on some foreign or mainland product?
Surfing Goat is the real deal. This hobby-turned-successful venture is not only producing enough cheese to keep a fairly impressive number of top-end restaurants happy, but the operation reported a 32% growth for the 17th consecutive quarter, is possibly expanding operations, and is landing mainland clients like executive chef Michael Cairns at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona.
First, a little background for the newbies: Surfing Goat Dairy owner’s Thomas and Eva Kafsack had been coming to Maui for surf retreats from their native Germany since the early 1970s. When Thomas decided to retire from software engineering, the spot to settle was obvious. They picked up an arid 42 acres tucked in to lower Haleakala, off Omaopio Road. Before the move, Eva set off to learn the craft of cheese-making from the finer producers in Germany, Austria and France, while Thomas began rounding up financing.
Within a few months of their arrival, a milk room, ripening room and cheese room were built, as was a spacious 10-stall barn for boarding horses. A modern 12-slot milking and sanitizing system was brought with them from Germany, and 47 goats were purchased from a defunct dairy on a neighbor island. Surfing Goat was born.
The dairy produces more than 25 varieties of cheese, a handful of which recently won honors at the National Cheese Competition in Portland, Oregon. The Kafsacks have broken down their cheese selection in to three categories: “Shark Bites”—the premium line, which include ingredients like Perigord truffles; the “Aloha”—which feature their gourmet chèvre cheese, either plain or blended with local herbs and fruits; and the “Paradise” line that feature more exotic combinations such as cheese soaked in olive oil and garlic, or smoked macadamia nut shells and oil.
Some of our favorites from a tasting that followed a recent tour of the Surfing Goat Dairy facility included the “Mandalay,” which uses fresh Maui apple bananas and curry, for a rather exotic taste. The “Pirates Desire” makes use of anchovy and capers, for a surprisingly clean and smooth flavor, and the plain goat chèvre coated in mesquite ash was a unique twist. www.surfinggoatdairy.com
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