“I’ve never had milk like this,” says Matthew Rahenkamp, chef partner at Scratch & Co. “It shows how good milk can be.”
He’s referring to the cream-top whole milk from Twin Brook Dairy. The Troy Hill restaurant and coffee shop began obtaining their milk products from the dairy, who maintain a farm in Bentleyville and production facility in Homestead, several weeks ago after actively searching for a local source. “Once we were able to get this, we really fell in love with the product.We wanted to use it in as many ways as possible, and that’s something we’re going to continue to work on.”
The cream top milk appears on the Troy Hill restaurant’s Tomato Toast as a farmer’s cheese seasoned with salt and lemon. Crostini are covered with the fresh housemade ricotta, which is then topped with tomatoes from Yarnick Farms and finished with horseradish and fresh herbs. “It’s simplistic and highlights each ingredient so well,” Rahenkamp says.
The cheese is made weekly, and the process is meticulous but simple. Ingredients are brought together in a pot, the temperature slowly raised, lemon juice added, all allowed to rest, then strained to make a base farmer’s cheese.
This particular dish integrates the fruit the French call the “pomme d’amour”, or “apple of love”, bounteous in late summer and fall, and this incarnation will be available as long as they are. When tomatoes are gone, though, the dish will transform rather than disappear. “We want to have some sort of toast that features the ricotta always,” says Rahenkamp. “In the winter it will change to something else.”
This doesn’t mean simply swapping out a single ingredient, but could potentially affect the way the cheese itself is made. “Throughout the whole year milk changes flavors,” he explains. “You can taste the change of seasons because the cows are eating something different. I like the concept of having the same cheese in the spring and in the fall, with a distinctive flavor for each.”
While this is the only cheese made in-house, the restaurant is continually exploring how to incorporate the milk. “It’s such a great product, we want to find new ways to highlight it across the entire menu,” says Rahenkamp. “We can skim off the cream, culture that cream, make butter with it- then we get buttermilk and butter and the skim milk that’s left can be turned into farmer’s cheese.”
Scratch currently offers brunch Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 am to 3 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm. Evening hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 5 to 11 pm, with kitchen closing at 9, and Sunday from 5 to 9 pm, kitchen until 8. They also frequently host guest chefs and pop-ups. In every element of operation, the restaurant is committed to sourcing from local purveyors whenever possible, and they’re gratified to have established a new relationship with the dairy. It’s a dedication good enough to taste.