Sheep's milk cheeses are hot. Long considered one of my favorite types of cheeses (give me an aged sheep's milk cheese over a hunk of cheddar any day) -- the media seems to have discovered Wisconsin and our sheep's milk cheesemakers. Whoo-hoo!
First, there was an article in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal declaring sheep's milk cheeses to be one of the Top 10 Foods to eat this fall. Our very own Brenda Jensen of Hidden Springs Creamery made the cut with her Ocooch Mountain.
And then in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, there is a full page plus feature with lots o' color photos of sheep's milk cheesemakers, including the Wisconsin Dairy Sheep Co-op, Sid Cook at Carr Valley Cheese and once again, Wisconsin's sweetheart: Brenda Jensen.
If you haven't yet tried Wisconsin sheep's milk cheeses, now is the perfect time. I would highly recommend the following:
Ocooch Mountain -- this 4-6 month aged sheep's milk cheese by Hidden Springs Creamery is not only a blue-ribbon winner, it's becoming one of Wisconsin's most famous cheeses -- featured everywhere from Murray's Cheese in New York to Cowgirl Creamery in San Francisco. You can get it in Wisconsin at Larry's Market in Brown Deer and Fromagination in Madison.
Dante -- this aged sheep's milk cheese is made by Bob Wills for the Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Cooperative. I consider this a good cross-over cheese -- if you're throwing a party with a bunch of guests whose cheese experience is limited to cheddar and colby, this is a nice, mild sheep's milk cheese that will introduce them to the more bolder flavors of Wisconsin artisan cheeses. This cheese is available at lots of retail outlets.
Gran Canaria -- this is a mixed milk cheese of sheep, goat and cow made by Sid Cook of Carr Valley. I almost always have a hunk of this cheese in my fridge -- it's a personal favorite and a crowd pleaser. I've even got my friend, Holly hooked on this cheese and this is a woman who still buys Velveeta. Hey, people, I'm trying ...
Faarko -- another mixed milk cheese, this time sheep and cow's milk, is made by Bob Wills at Cedar Grove Cheese. This is another excellent "starter" cheese -- serve to your artisan cheese virgin guests without telling them it's a sheep's milk cheese and they'll love it. Then spring the sheep part on them and they won't believe it. Yummy.
Trade Lake Cedar -- this robust raw sheep milk cheese is a LoveTree Farmstead Cheese original made by Mary Falk. It's a natural rind cheese that is aged on boughs of cedar branches in Mary's fresh air-aging cave. You can really only buy it at farmer's markets in the Twin Cities -- Mary sells almost all of her cheese in Minnesota. Mary just did a great interview on NPR -- listen here.
You can't go wrong with Wisconsin sheep's milk cheeses!