Dani and Austin Genke and Austin’s sister Samantha Genke are well on their way to achieving their dream of a family-run dairy and a restaurant that uses local produce. We visited them at Boxcarr Farms in 2012, where Dani and Austin were raising vegetables, chickens, goats, and pigs. They were selling at the farmers’ market and running a food truck and catering business that used their own produce and that of neighboring farmers. Last week, we returned to the farm to see the new cheese-making facility of Boxcarr Handmade Cheese.
Dani and Austin left a big-city lifestyle to move to Orange County, where Samantha worked at Chapel Hill Creamery. They bought land on a quiet country road among the old farms of Cedar Grove. When we arrived, we followed a winding gravel road past the farmhouse and pond to the top of the property, where the new cheesehouse overlooks the land. Austin met us at the door and showed us around the facility, where stainless steel vats and equipment awaited the next delivery of milk. The Genkes plan to use their own goat milk eventually, but for now they source cow’s milk from a long-time neighbor in Guilford County and goat’s milk from a friend.
Blocks of cheese were ripening in several coolers. The team taste-tested for several months as they attended to the cheeses, some of which require daily washing or flipping. Boxcarr is blending cow’s and goat’s milks, a technique that is unique in our area. The result is amazing cheeses with firm rinds, silky interiors, and flavors from zingy to sweet. Austin showed us their portable smoker, where burning woodchips add smoky flavor to some of the cheeses.
When we returned to the office, Samantha had arrived. Samantha, who has a decade of cheese-making experience at local dairies, makes the Boxcarr cheeses with the help of Alessandra Trompeo, a native Italian whose initial interest in mountains, geology, and biology led her to a passion for northern Italian cheesemaking. Alessandra provides precision and methodology, whereas Samantha works with a freedom of experimentation, making them a perfect pair in the cheeseroom. They traveled to Italy to research cheese styles and now craft unique North Carolina cheeses that are inspired by the small country farmsteads of Italy. Austin oversaw the building of the cheesehouse and is now in charge of sales. Together, they’ve created a true family-run business.
Made with cow’s milk, this is a best-of-both-worlds Robiola. A clean, dry rind protects a slightly firm, yet silky interior that is both luscious and zingy.
A delicate, snowy rind yields to a center with sweet, nutty flavors in this mixed-milk masterpiece.