Our final tourist activity in Maui took us far away from the white sand beaches. Well, as far away as you can really be from the beach when you’re on a relatively small island. We had considered driving the Road to Hana (3 hours to drive 52 sea cliff-hugging miles) or driving up to the Haleakala crater (a road that makes Richard Simmons look straight). So instead of all of that, we decided to follow our stomachs on a road less traveled but well worth the adventure.
After a final visit to Tedeschi Winery and lunch at Ulupalakua Ranch Store (stories for another day), we decided to detour to Surfing Goat Dairy on our way back to the resort. During our pre-trip internet searches for things to do on Maui, we had run across several mentions of the dairy and thought it sounded like something we might like. Nik-L-Nip was very kindly playing chauffeur and was willing to go along. After a missed turn took us on a scenic back road where we were dodging the free roaming chickens and keeping our fingers crossed that no oncoming car would want to share the one-lane bridge with us, we found the dairy.
We made it there just in time to get to pay to help them with the evening chores. Wait. That doesn’t sound right. But yeah, that’s what we did. Luckily for us, by “help” they meant go along for a nice walk around the farm, pet the dogs, and learn about the goats. The farm was beautiful. Set on a hillside, the goats had lovely pastures, cool breezes, and a classic red barn. And surf boards. The goats really do like to stand around on the surf boards (hence the dairy name). The three working dogs were also extremely friendly and snuggly, and the dairy cats were happy to hang out in the shade with us for belly rubs. And then there was Charlie.
After paying for our tour and ordering our after-tour cheese feast (more on that later), we had time to explore a bit before the tour started. There was a small (6′ x 6′) pen near the lanai. And inside that pen was Charlie, a rather large Vietnamese pot-bellied pig. We felt sorry for Charlie. We couldn’t believe that they didn’t give him more room than that little pen. We were all looking at each other and talking about it. And then we looked back down into the pen. And there was no Charlie there. Charlie had a back door and free range of the farm.
We started our tour with a walk to the goats to bring them back to the barn for evening milking. On the way, we learned about the difference between bottle-fed and dam-raised baby goats, watched one of the dogs play in the sprinkler, and got a good feel for the history of the dairy. Then we met the herd. Teddy was the single lucky billy goat with a harem of ladies. We found out that we were luckily early into goat mating season since Teddy employs a rather odoriferous method to get the ladies in the mood. Do you know why billy goats have beards? We do now. Ew.
On the way back to the barn, we ran into Charlie heading down to the pasture. Poor Charlie. So confined. The goats knew exactly where they needed to go and couldn’t wait to get there. We learned that female goats have a strict heirarchy. The alpha female always goes first. And goats don’t play nice to other goats who decide not to respect the heirarchy. When the first group of girls were all lined up for milking, the real fun began. Our hard-working tour guide asked for volunteers. Yep. Squirrelly, Jr., milked a goat. According to his teacher, he had a unique “claw” technique never before seen at the dairy, but he got milk out of the goat. Just not into the bucket. He still earned his ribbon, though.
After further education about where the goat milk goes and how it turns into cheese, we fed carrots to some baby goats and got ready to sample the dairy goods. We had opted for two cheese flights – one flight of 6 fresh cheeses, and one flight of 6 aged cheeses. And of course we had to have a nice cold glass of fresh goat milk. Mmmmm.
But about that cheese. We started with the fresh cheese flight. First, there was Mandalay, a sweet blend of goat cheese with curry and apple bananas. It was light, creamy, and absolutely addictive. Then we tried Ivory Coast, a perfectly balanced blend of goat cheese and cracked black peppercorns. Next we had Men’s Challenge, a potentially fiery horseradish blend that turned out to have just enough bite to keep us coming back for more. Then we moved to Ole, a blend with jalepenos, artichokes, lime juice and cilantro. If only we had brought some tacos with us. Next was O Sole Mio, a blend with sun dried tomatoes and our least favorite (we could probably only have consumed one gallon of that). We finished the fresh cheese flight with Purple Rain, a delightful blend of goat cheese with Maui lavender that smelled as lovely as it tasted.
We were a very happy quartet. Who very happily had 6 aged cheeses to sample. We started with Biscuits, a plain cheese aged in red wax. It was dry, crumbly and delicious. Next up were Ping Pong Balls, perfect mouthfuls of melting creamy cheese with just a hint of garlic. Then we had French Dream, goat cheese blended with herbs de Provence that was only missing a glass of Sancerre. Next we had Diabolic, a piquantly peppery cheese aged with jalapenos, chiles, citron and peppercorns. Of course we had their wonderful Feta and then finished with BBQ, a cold smoked cheese that left a wonderful smokiness on the palate.
We were now a happy and thoroughly sated quartet. Squirrelly, Jr., is planning a happy career of goat milking and cheese munching, and Papa, Nik-L-Nip, and I are very happy to know that Surfing Goat Dairy will ship FedEx to give us a Maui afternoon in west Tennessee.