The dairy farms of Hokkaido are famous throughout the country for their high quality. Nearly 20 years ago, the dairy farms of the region were faced with a dilemma: too much moo in the market. Prices dropped and stock went unsold. As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. In Hokkaido – and in the case of Milk Kobo – you make ice cream.
Takahashi Dairy Farm, owner of Milk Kobo, treats its cows much in the same way the Kobe Beef farmers treat theirs, with respect and care. Cows are milked by-hand, raised on the highest quality natural feed and drink the pure, crystal clear water from nearby Mount Yotei. The result is a series of delicious, fresh and sweet treats made from the milk these cows produce.
I arrived at Milk Kobo on an afternoon filled with brilliant, warm sunshine and blue skies. The grounds are open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and the site is home to a number of small buildings offering various services, gifts and dairy products.
There is small café serving food and hot and cold beverages, a yogurt workshop, outdoor apparel store, art studio and gift shop. The main focus of my visit was the Milk Studio Head Office and the delicious treats it was producing. The building contains a number of observation windows in its interior so you can watch the milk being processed and integrated into the ice cream and other treats it produces.
I hummed and hawed for a moment or two, before finally deciding on what I would order: A baseball-sized cream puff. My maternal grandmother was something of a baking savant, so I came to the table with a rather refined and demanding palate when it came to the aforementioned cream puff and wondered just how it would measure up against that of my fondest childhood memories.
The pastry itself was light, crispy and quite delicious. But the pastry wasn’t the star of the show; the vanilla custard at its center was the main attraction. It’s hard to say just how much of an impact the high quality milk made on the taste from a comparative standpoint; however, I can say that it was a pretty tasty little treat. At ¥150 per serving, the cream puff is also a reasonably priced indulgence, although you might be inclined to make an additional purchase after trying one.
Cream puffs are just one of the many products available and I saw a number of people purchasing roll cakes, cheesecake and ice creams. The day was warm so I, along many other patrons, sat outside on one of the picnic tables and enjoyed the afternoon sun with Takashi Farm and Mount Yotei sitting in the distance. If you are a sweet tooth or enjoy fresh dairy products, a visit to Milk Kobo will surely satiate your craving.