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Belle Chevre Creamery & Moss Rock Festival

11.26.2014

belle chevre
I love cheese.
I really love goat cheese.
More specifically, I really love Belle Chevre goat cheese.  I stumbled across their cinnamon goat cheese spread a year or so ago at Whole Foods & it was love at first taste.  So when I saw a Groupon offering to tour the Belle Chevre Creamery I jumped on it.

Brad & I made the trip up to the tiny town of Elkmont, AL (just outside of Athens).  The creamery sits right in the heart of 'downtown' Elkmont.  We were greeted by two sweet young girls working in the lobby that gave us a brief tour of the grounds outside before escorting us in to a large building filled with several benches & a giant projector screen.  The guided tour included a 12 minute documentary about the company.  It included a brief history of the company, an introduction to the owner- Tasia Malakasis, & a condensed version of how they make the cheese.

After the video, we were given time to wander outside & meet some of the goats.  It was explained to us that Belle Chevre takes pride in using on-site or locally sourced ingredients in all their products.  These particular goats weren't actually ones used for the milking.  They are more for the visitors!
goats
baby goat
goat
They had two new baby goats that were about six weeks old.  If I'm being honest, this was definitely the best part of the tour.  The little black one was so feisty! 
goats
goat
goats
baby goat
baby goat
chicken coop
chicken coop
After we had our fill of playing with the goats, we went back inside & were shown around the workroom.  Our guide pointed out that aside from a couple of long tables, a refrigerator, & a mixer- there really weren't any pieces of equipment or machinery that you would expect to see in a place that produces food.  It just shows how simplistic the process can be. 
flow chart
flow chart showing the production process
historic map
a visual history of Belle Chevre
belle chevre
It was really interesting to see where food we consume actually comes from & how it is made.  Our tour guide also informed us that Belle Chevre is still a family run company- 85% of the employees are all family members.  I loved touring the creamery & getting the opportunity to learn a little about the process.
belle chevre
belle chevre body products
We finished up the tour by browsing the store items (they also make soaps & lotions!) & getting to sample each one of the cheeses.  I still stand by my two favorites- cinnamon & fig.  Of course we took home a tub of each. 
belle chevre tour times
 belle chevre
belle chevre tasting room
There is a tasting room in a storefront across from the creamery.
belle chevre
As we left the tour, we noticed the Hilltop Arts Festival was going on downtown & decided to stop in.  There was music, food, & arts & crafts booths set up.  We wandered through the booths & spent a few minutes listening to Lily Nelsen strumming her guitar. 
hilltop arts festival
hilltop arts festivallily nelsen
Unfortunately it was a little cooler than we were prepared for so we hit the road & headed back to Birmingham, where we made a stop at this year's Moss Rock Festival.  By that time the weather had warmed up some & the sun had made an appearance.  It was perfect weather to be out wandering in the Preserve.  We spent some time browsing the booths & listening to the music.  Of course we had to make a stop at the Melt food truck for some delicious gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.  I was also really glad to see that my favorite tea vendors, Piper & Leaf, had set up a booth at the festival this year.  Of course I had to grab a hot tea to sip on while I browsed.
fall colors
piper & leaf
moss rock festival 
After we'd stuffed ourselves with grilled cheeses & wandered through all the booths, we decided to make our way home.  The day was the perfect kickoff to fall.  I was thankful for a fun filled day supporting local businesses & community events in our area.

Do you know of any upcoming events in the central Alabama area?  If so, leave it in the comments below so I can check them out.
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