Written by our volunteer Kahfii King.
Mozzarella, Fromage Frais, and cultured butter are just some of the fan favorites of Binford Farmers Market’s Tulip Tree Creamery. Just this past Saturday, cheese-maker Fons Smits set up shop, looking to intrigue every passerby with the ultimate comfort food, cheese!
Stationed in Zionville, the 3-week-old company has a positive future. Sales and marketing manager, Laura Davenport gave me the inside scoop on the history and future plans of Tulip Tree. Before I could even get into the nitty gritty of the company, I had to know where the name, so reminiscent of a spring day, came from.
Davenport explained that the name was created after a meeting with the team and is based upon two concepts, the first being that they wanted a name that resonated with Indiana and its residents. So, it seemed perfectly germane that the Hooiser state tree is in fact, the tulip tree. Secondly, Smits is a Netherlands native, a place where tulips are so admired that there is an entire festival dedicated to them! Tulip Tree Creamery therefore, is the perfect mix of local and global traditions.
Smits has a grandiose education when it comes to cheese making, being Euro-trained and making cheese in South America, Asia, and the U.S.! He called Trader’s Point Creamery home for some time before the desire to branch out on his own came too. After indulging in Smits creations, friends and family also pushed him to go into business for himself and Tulip Tree Creamery was born.
Davenport then went on to tell me about her favorite part of their business. Because Tulip Tree is a smaller operation and production happens in smaller batches, they have the flexibility to experiment and make a variety cheeses!
“We’ve taken to Facebook and asked people what they want!” Davenport said. Nonetheless cheese varieties such as Swiss and cheese curds were thrown into the mix.
You may be wondering what makes cheeses distinct from one another. Davenport explained, “It’s all about the recipe”.
It takes milk, good bacteria, rennet (the enzyme that turns milk into a solid), salt, and spices. The temperature at which the cheese is made also affects the type of cheese you’ll end up with. If a cheese curds batch is on the way, the same ingredients are necessary and then the curds from the mix are packed into molds awaiting a salt-water bath!
In the long term, Tulip Tree has big plans. They currently have a temporary facility on the northwest side of town and want to upgrade to a more scenic location. The ideal facility will have classroom space so that customers can come work side-by-side with cheese makers and make their own cheesy treats, learn about cheese pairing, and indulge in delicious tasting events. The company is also still narrowing down their local dairy producers so they can give us the absolute best cheese in Indiana. They want to keep it local and make sure their company goals align perfectly.
I couldn’t leave my conversation with Laura without picking her brain for a couple of yummy meal tips to make with their cheeses. She says that since it’s tomato season, the mozzarella will make a light, fresh, caprese salad. Use the Fromage Frais atop some roasted veggies or mix it into mashed potatoes. As Rachel Ray would say, “YUM-O!”
So there you have it market-goers, a fantastic way to get your cheese fix is right here waiting for you! Come out to the Binford Farmer’s Market or Broad Ripple Farmer’s Market and do a taste test. I promise you’ll fall in love.
***If you can’t make it out to the markets to pick up your product for the week, the cheese geniuses plan to have online ordering set by the Fall.