#TBT: Visiting Harley Farms Goat Dairy in Pescadero

October 1, 2015 § 4 Comments

The tiny town of Pescadero (pop. 643, as of 2010) in southern San Mateo county is probably best known for Duarte’s Tavern, a long-standing institution established in 1894 and lauded in Sunset Magazine for its now-famous artichoke soup. But there’s so much more to experience in Pescadero, as I learned this past summer.

Historically important in San Mateo county’s development, Pescadero was part of the original stage-coach road system, taking travelers south from San Francisco to the coast.

Map from the San Mateo County Museum's exhibit on The First Roads

Map from the San Mateo County Museum’s exhibit on The First Roads

Equally important for the 650 is that Pescadero has been a fertile area for farming and ranching in San Mateo county since the 1860’s. Today we’re lucky to have sustainably raised food from Fifth Crow Farm, Root Down Farm, Pie Ranch, and Harley Farms Goat Dairy, to name a few. Some of these farms are supplying San Mateo county’s best restaurants, while also selling their products directly to consumers through farmers’ markets, farm stands, and CSA programs.

Local Summer Salad: My backyard apricots, Fifth Crow Farms greens and berries, Harley Goat Farms Dairy chevre

Local Summer Salad: My backyard apricots, Fifth Crow Farms greens and berries, Harley Goat Farms Dairy chevre

When the Bay Area’s first round of super-hot weather descended in early June, I took that as a sign to head down the coast. A trip down Highway 1 is often a crapshoot. Microclimates being what they are here, a 30-minute drive across Highway 92 and over to the coast can take you from a siesta-inducing, 95 degrees on the mid-peninsula to a better-bundle-up, foggy 63 degrees on the coast. You just don’t know for sure until you get there (and it’s all part of the adventure, so bring extra clothes)! Fortunately, the day I headed south for a Food Day in Pescadero (the first of two), I lucked out with comfortable 70-something-degree temperatures that were enough to burn off the fog and expose the rugged beauty of the San Mateo county coast. My destination? Harley Farms Goat Dairy in Pescadero.

Harley Farms Goat Dairy is a restored 1910 property located just about a mile west (inland) from Downtown Pescadero, right before the intersection of North Street and Pescadero Creek Road. The scenic route takes you through Downtown Pescadero, a cute don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it town with a surprising array of places to indulge in food and beverages. Stop and explore, if you have time. If you decide to bypass downtown and keep going west on Pescadero Creek Road, just know that the only entrance to the farm is on North Road (you’ll be able to see the back of the property), so you’ll have to take a sharp left there and backtrack a bit.

Keep an eye out for the cream-colored buildings and goat sign hanging outside the shop.

Harley Goat Farm Dairy in Pescadero, CA

Harley Farms Goat Dairy in Pescadero, CA

Park along the road, near the shop, or look for the Parking sign just past the metal tanks (near the large eucalyptus tree).

The scenic nine-acre farm is primarily a working dairy that houses 200 alpine goats for milk and cheese production. The property also includes a barn, orchard, colorful garden, and shop where visitors can taste and purchase the farm’s products. The enchanting hayloft above the shop is the site of farm dinners and parties and offers a stunning view of the property and surrounding hills.

View of the gardens from the hayloft at Harley Farms

View of the gardens from the hayloft at Harley Farms

The farm is open year-round for private and public tours, retreats, and events. Guided tours, which must be booked in advance, take visitors around the property to view the farm in action, visit with the goats, and learn about the cheese-making process. The farm offers public tours on weekends, and you can easily book through the website. There are options for family tours (with kids) or adults-only tours (no kids). A word of advice: book early because tours and events book up quickly, especially May-October. Harley Farms will also work with you to create your own private tour or event. Corporate retreat? Birthday dinner in the hayloft? A farm tour with your extended family? Contact the farm directly for more information and availability.

Even if you roll up without a tour booking (as I did on a random weekday), you can still enjoy the public spaces, view the gardens, watch the goats in their pens, and taste the farm’s award-winning products in the Cheese Shop.

Harley Farms Shop in Pescadero, CA

Harley Farms Shop in Pescadero, CA

The farm produces feta, ricotta, fromage blanc, and of course, chèvre. The fromage blanc, which has the texture of a soft, light cream cheese, is available plain or with flavor accents such as garlic and herb or tomato and basil. Pro tip: the tomato-basil fromage blanc pairs perfectly with the freshly baked artichoke bread from Arcangeli’s Market in town.

Harley Farms chèvre is a classic goat cheese with a firm, but creamy consistency. It crumbles when chilled and spreads like cream cheese at room temperature. The Cheese Shop offers several sizes of chèvre, from cute “buttons,” perfect for tasting, to must-share rounds and logs. Flavor-wise, you can choose plain chèvre or dressed-up options topped with chopped apricots and pistachios; cranberries and walnuts; or pretty, edible flowers from Harley Farms gardens (aka, the award-winning Monet Cheese).

I tried them all, but my hands-down favorite, however, is the Honey Lavender Chèvre. The sweet-herbal combination is well-balanced and complements the earthy goat cheese flavor. While it’s delish on a cracker, I found that the complex flavor combo is a perfect addition to a pretty summer salad of fruits, greens, and edible flowers. It was so good, I had to make a second trip to Harley Farms later in the summer for more Honey Lavender Chèvre.

Harley Farms Honey Lavender Chevre

Harley Farms Honey Lavender Chèvre

The shop also sells assorted sweet treats (handmade truffles and goat-cheese cheesecakes), bath and body products, and gifts.

A small and vibrant part of the San Mateo farming community, Harley Farms is a worth a visit. Book yourself a tour, bring along some picnic supplies (or stop into Arcangeli’s Market for that artichoke bread), and make a day of it.

Have you visited Harley Farms Goat Dairy? Or a goat dairy in your local food system? Share your experiences in the comments below.

What: Harley Farms Goat Dairy
Where: 205 North Street, Pescadero, CA 94060
Phone: 650-879-0480
Farm & Shop Hours:
January-February: Mon-Thu 11am-3pm; Fri-Sun 10am-4pm
March-December: 10am-5pm, every day
Closed Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Years Day
Parking: Street or lot


Feed Local: Putting the “Giving” in Thanksgiving

November 25, 2014 § 1 Comment

What are you doing for Thanksgiving? It’s the question of the week, right?! We’re all asking each other whose house are you going to? and whatcha making? and who’s cooking? We’re digging up those old family recipes or searching the interwebs for last-minute genius side dishes and turkey hacks. We’re pulling out the stretchy pants and planning on lively, filling dinners followed by food coma and football. And leftovers — ohmergawd, leftovers! Not only are we planning how we’ll fill ourselves to capacity and beyond on Thursday, but how we’ll indulge in it all over again on Friday (pumpkin pie for breakfast, of course!). Hey, I’m right there with you.

Fixin's for Thanksgiving dinner!

Fixin’s for Thanksgiving dinner!

And yet, as I’m making my own Thanksgiving menu and dreading that last-minute trip to the grocery store, I’m also thinking about the fact that not everyone in the 650 will be celebrating with big meals. And some families will struggle to celebrate at all.

In San Mateo county, the heart of the 650, almost 12% of the population is food insecure. (Want more info? Check out Feeding America’s website.) I don’t want to be a big downer after I got you all excited about a food fest that is less than 48 hours away; I really don’t. And yet, the fact remains that food insecurity exists right here in our community, and no one should have to miss out on a healthy, home-cooked meal for the holidays. Good news: there’s something you can do to provide food to those who need help this holiday season. (And that would be the “giving” part of Thanksgiving.)

Feed Local: Whole Foods Market “Food Four More” Program
Did you know that $10 can provide a meal for a family of four? From now until December 24, Peninsula-region Whole Foods Markets are running a donation program called “Food Four More,” which benefits Second Harvest Food Bank. It’s simple and brilliant.

Stop in at a Whole Foods Market in Los Altos, Palo Alto, Redwood City, or San Mateo to support "Food Four More" with a donation

Stop in at a Whole Foods Market in Los Altos, Palo Alto, Redwood City, or San Mateo to support “Food Four More” with a donation

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Visit a Peninsula Whole Foods Market store: Los Altos, Palo Alto, Redwood City, or San Mateo.
  2. Make a donation to Food Four More at any checkout stand.

The money goes to Second Harvest, which uses it to feed the 1 in 10 people in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties who rely on their services. While any amount is helpful, needed, and welcomed, I like knowing how my dollars translate in terms of a meal: $10 = food for four people. Simple. Think about it — for what you might spend on two pumpkin spice lattes, you can give a local family a lunch or dinner. How cool is that?!

If you shop at Whole Foods, simply add the donation to your grocery bill when you check out (your cashier should ask you, but feel free to volunteer). Even if you’re not a Whole Foods shopper, you can stop into any Peninsula WF location and make a donation at a register — no purchase required!

Feed Regional: Farm Fresh to You “Donate-a-Box, Help Heal Hunger”
Want to extend your gift of food beyond the 650? Farm Fresh to You, the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program of Capay Farms, is now offering the opportunity to donate a box of fresh, organic produce to a regional food bank within California. If you’re a Farm Fresh to You customer, log into your Farmstand to learn the different ways in which you can donate. Donations can be made at any time or as part of your weekly box customization.

Fresh, organic produce like this could be donated to a California food bank of your choice

Fresh, organic produce like this could be donated to a California food bank of your choice

If you’re not a Farm Fresh to You customer, you can still particpate in this donation program without subscribing to the service or making any other purchases (<– clicky here to find out more). You can choose the box size for donation and the food bank partner that will receive it. If you’d like to make a recurring donation, you can create an account the website.

See how easy it can be to share the holiday spirit and help feed your community? Are there other food-related programs in the 650 or beyond that you support (or would like to)? Share your suggestions in the Comments section below.

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