One of the finest cheese-makers in all of New England is Deb Hahn of Hahn’s End in Phippsburg, Maine. She comes to the Camden farmers’ market, Saturday mornings only, and you’ll recognize her stand by the big “CHEESE” sign and the line-up of patient customers waiting their turn to buy a week’s worth of cheeses. Deb and her husband Drew (they alternate turns at the Saturday market) buy fresh milk from a select number of small farms in their Kennebec River neighborhood, and craft the cheeses to a variety of flavors from buttery Eleanor Buttercup to pungent Ragged Island–as strong as an aged pecorino. Except for the very fresh ones, these are all raw cow’s milk cheeses. Aged with care in the Hahns’ own cellars, they are truly exceptional.
And the names! City of Ships, Virginia of Sagadahoc–mostly chosen by Deb to reflect the Kennebec valley’s dramatic history as the cradle of American shipbuilding. (Virginia of Sagadahoc was the name of the first ship built by Englishmen in the Americas and launched at Phippsburg on the Kennebec in 1607.)
You can sometimes find a small selection of their cheeses in local gourmet shops–Treat’s in Wiscasset is one such–but it’s worth coming to market just to have a chance to chat with Deb about what she does and how she does it.