By Aaron Estes, Cheese Editor
As a part-time cheesemonger, I am routinely asked for
my recommendations for cheeses. Composing
a cheese plate for a party, pairing with a specific wine and making an addition
or substitution for a recipe are all issues that I handle in a typical day
when standing behind the counter.
And, as we
move into the summer months, more and more people are grilling outside and
looking for that perfect blue cheese to top their steak, melt over their
burger or even toss with a salad of field greens.
Invariably, my first suggestion is “Ewe’s
Blue” from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company in upstate
Tom and Nancy Clark own the largest flock of dairy sheep in
the country on their farm in Old Chatham, located in the heart of the
Using the pasteurized sheep’s milk from approximately
1,200 East Friesian crossbreeds, “Ewe’s Blue” is a soft and moist blue cheese
made in the Roquefort style — a style
typified by a sharp flavor with a hint of acidity and salt on the front end,
and a rich and creamy paste on the interior, with a long and lingering finish
that can sometimes bring about a hint of smoke.
The veining is blue with pockets of green that give this cheese such a
sharp tang and what is generally associated with a “blue” flavor.
What I find most remarkable about this cheese is the
unctuous texture. Of the three milk types
generally used in cheesemaking, sheep’s milk is the most distinctive in that it
has higher milk fat content than either cow and goat milk. The result is a higher concentration of fat
within the curd that gives these cheeses a rich mouthfeel and complexity.
With the high fat content and salty bite on
the front end of this cheese, an assertive wine or beer is needed in order to
complement. Classic blue cheese pairings
include beverages with a sweet component to balance the saltiness, such as a
barley wine, port or even a late harvest riesling.
Although this cheese is based on the Roquefort style, Old
Chatham Sheepherding Company has created a truly American artisanal cheese that
propels us forward in establishing our cheese cultural identity.