Dining With Denise Neil

Elderslie Farm’s new cheese and gelato creamery about to open along with its outdoor cafe

When the popular Bramble Cafe, the idyllic seasonal outdoor eatery at Elderslie Farm, reopens for the season on Saturday, visitors will find an all-new attraction.

Since the cafe was last open late last summer, owners George and Katharine Elder have completed construction on a their Elderslie Creamery, a state-of-the-art, commercial goat creamery that will allow visitors to the farm at 3501 E. 101st St. North to visit with goats, watch them being milked, observe the cheese making process then sample the finished products in the form of fresh goat cheese and goat milk gelato.

The creamery, set up in a 4,000-square-foot facility, also will open on Saturday. Its hours that day will be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The cafe, which serves breakfast and lunch items, will be open from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Blackberry picking, the original attraction at the farm, won’t start until sometime in June.

People have a variety of options for visiting the new creamery. They can go anytime it’s open to get an up-close look at the goat herd that resides in an attached barn then travel inside the building to see where the goats are milked and where the cheese is made.

While inside, visitors can also visit a retail counter where they can buy some of the creamery’s goat cheese or sample some goat milk gelato. On Saturday and during busy days in the summers there will also be a gelato stand set up outside. There’s no charge to visit.

The creamery also will offer options for private tours and tasting events. People can go to the Elderslie Farm website to reserve private tours, hands-on educational visits and even special tastings, where the goat cheeses will be paired with wines.

Goat cheese, for the uninitiated, is a soft, tart favorite of gourmet cooks like Katharine Elder, who regularly uses it in her the farm-to-table dinners that are also big business at Elderslie Farm.

The creamery will produce five different goat milk cheeses, including a chevre (what most goat cheese fans are used to) plus a goat milk feta and an aged goat gouda. There will also be seasonal flavors, and the Elders plan to partner with local cow dairies to create a few cow milk cheeses. (Elderslie-made goat cheeses won’t be ready in time for opening day, but they’ll release their first one on May 18 followed by another on May 22, another in mid-June and another on July 4.)

The flavors of the goat milk gelato, which has a more acidity and therefore a brighter flavor than gelato made with cow milk, also will change with the seasons, heavy on blackberry during the summer and infused with juniper and nut flavors in the fall. There will also be floral gelatos, George Elder said.

People who want to see the goat milking in action will want to visit around 7 p.m., Elder said. At the moment, Elderslie’s herd has 31 milking does, who are all milked twice a day and produce around 21 gallons a day. The herd has two types of goats — Nubian and Saanen — which have different milking cycles, and that will keep the milk flowing all but two or three weeks out of the year.

Elderslie Farm, which is about a 20 minute drive from Wichita, is George Elder’s family farm, and in the summer of 2012, he and his wife opened a small outdoor cafe next to their you-pick blackberry bramble.

Every year since, the farm has become more popular, and the Elders have continued to expand their hours and offerings. The Bramble Cafe is now open for breakfast throughout the summer and lunch on Fridays and Saturdays. The couple also converted the first floor of George’s parents’ farm house into a dreamy restaurant, where upscale farm-to-table dinners are served Thursdays through Saturdays throughout the year.

The hours at Elderslie Creamery, starting Saturday, will be 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

The hours for Bramble Cafe, starting Saturday, will be 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 5 Sundays until May 28. Then, the summer hours start: 8 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. It serves items like scones, quiche, muffins and pastries. A lunch menu is offered on Fridays and Saturdays.

The formal farm-to-table dinners happen Thursday through Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. Reservations are available at https://eldersliefarm.com/formal-dining/.

Blackberries are usually ready for picking the second week of June. Good news this year: George Elder said weather conditions were ideal over the winter, and the blackberries should be plentiful this year.

To make reservations for creamery tours or dinners, visit https://eldersliefarm.com.