Say goat ‘CHEESE,’ please
You could say that the cheeses are “udderly delicious.” Or that the “feta is mo’ bettah.”
Even Little Miss Muffet, who sits on her tuffet, eating her curds and wheys, might note that Surfing Goat Dairy continues to grow by leaps and bounds on the slopes of Haleakala.
And this is despite the fact that its founders and owners, Thomas and Eva Kafsack, have in recent times stepped back from the dairy farm to recoup and heal after years in the business.
“Eva retired last year and I had some health issues that layed me up in bed for about six months,” said Thomas in the Coconut Grove, the picnic area of the farm with bronze goat statues, surfboards and stellar views of the island.
“But we have a very good team here and they held it all together,” he continues. “Our Store Manager Crystal Phan, Dairy Manager Erin Ford and Director of Operations Angela Reichert.”
Natives of Hamburg, Germany, the Kafsacks also lived on Sylt, the northernmost island in the North Sea in Germany, before moving to Maui to open Surfing Goat Dairy in 2002.
“Sylt was always the last stop on the Windsurf World Cup tour,” he says. “That’s how we found out about Maui.”
With their three children in tow, they bought their bucolic piece of the Maui farming pie and raised a herd of goats and churned out fresh cheeses of the organic variety to select shops.
But that was then, and now the farm hosts all manner of tours and its total revenue for 2014 was $1.5 million with a dramatic rise in sales of its cheeses, merchandise, soaps, truffles and more.
“Right now, we have lots of new customers,” says Thomas. “We’re in all four Safeways on Maui and all Foodland Farms, including all Whole Foods stores in Hawaii. Our other new customers are Makena Beach Resort, Aston Ka’anapali Shores, Hana Ranch Provisions, Duke’s Beach House, Oceanside Restaurant and the Market.”
Health food stores such as Mana Foods in?Paia and Hawaiian Moons in Kihei are getting in on the organic cheese bandwagon, too.
On Oahu, Nordstrom and the Honolulu Museum of Art are new accounts. And now the MGM group in Las Vegas is adding the Surfing Goat Dairy line at Tom Colicchio’s restaurant and in the Bellagio and the Mirage.
“The demand is so great that we hardly can keep up with producing enough to sell,” he says.
But it all starts with the goats.
“All our cheeses are made fresh daily from the milk of a healthy and happy goat herd, which graze in our pastures,” says Thomas. “We have about 240 animals. Kidding seasons starts in December through January. How many are born really depends on how busy the buck was during the day.”
Kidding seasons starts again in May and lasts for four weeks with the cutest little creatures climbing slanted surf boards and putting on shows for guests.
Bucks August and Pepito are employed to service the does and youngsters Ariel, Chadwick and Poppy are among the newest kids on the block.
“The herd is made up of French Alpines, Swiss Saanen and cross breeds between these two breeds. They graze on our pastures with kukui, rye and buffel grass. We don’t use pesticides or herbicides on our farm so that the milk isn’t contaminated with residue,” he continues. “We certainly also don’t use anything like growth hormones, steroids or antibiotics on our award-winning herd who are like family to us, each of which is named at birth.”
The goats are milked twice a day in a state-of-the-art machine. But you may also try your hand at it on the Grand Dairy Tour on Saturdays and Sundays, a lot of fun for the whole family.
In addition, each milking goat gets two scoops of mix including corn, oats, barley and molasses and alfalfa hay after milking in the evening. After pasteurization, the organic cheese cultures coagulate with certified kosher rennet and end products are soft cheeses, fresh chevre and Quark.
“Quark is basically a cheese in between yogurt and cream cheese,” says Thomas. “It has more whey. We make fruit Quarks and you can bake cheesecakes or freeze it for ice cream. We also do a tzatziki with lots of garlic. It goes great with Greek food.”
All herbs, spices and fruits used to add flavor to the cheeses are not only organic, but most are grown right on fields on the farm or in the fruit orchard.
“We pick them as we need them, so that we have their full flavor for our cheeses. For other ingredients like fish and grape leaves we get the best, freshest and most organic available.”
The dairy churns out heart and biscuit-shaped cheeses dipped in red wax. And Mandalay, O Solo Mio and more are among the chevre national winners.
There are smoked cheeses, Ping Pongs with olive oil in jars and the hot Diabolic, which are all the rage. Surfing Goat Dairy’s newest item is the Black Diamond with roasted mustard seeds and powder, perfect with sausages.
“Chef Ryan Luckey at Leilani’s was our guinea pig and he loved working with it,” says Thomas. “Our retail shop is doing well with hot drinks and cold beverages, T-shirts, hats, coolers, Molokai salt, goat-cheese soaps and truffles that we make here.”
Belgian dark chocolate is mixed with goat cheese for ganache and organic fruits and products to make flavors from lychee to lilikoi. All are udderly delicious, of course. No kidding around.