Specialty Food Magazine

SUMMER 2015

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Reblochon, the alpine cheese no longer sold in the U.S. "A lot of French customers ask for Reblochon, and it's awesome to have them taste Ouleout. They can't believe it's from New York," she adds. According to Jeff Roberts, author of The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese, the state's creameries more than doubled in number over the past eight years, from 42 in 2006 to 90 in 2014. Although some, like Vulto and Poughkeepsie's Sprout Creek Farm, are in the Hudson Valley, most are in more affordable parts of the state, such as Madison County and the Finger Lakes region. "Land is cheap up here," says Veronica Pedraza, cheesemaker for Meadowood Farms in Madison County, about 20 miles south- east of Syracuse. "We have plenty of rain for good pasture, and we have rolling hills, so we have more grazeable land than Vermont." Making a Mark Meadowood is one of eight sheep-based creameries in the state, according to Roberts' data, and its cheeses have earned a niche in influential stores like Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine in Chicago, Di Bruno Brothers in Philadelphia, and Saxelby Cheesemongers in New York City. "Veronica's cheeses are pretty, which matters, but they also taste good," says Lydia Burns, cheese buyer for Pastoral. Burns is particularly taken with Meadowood Ledyard, a leaf-wrapped robiola-style disk. "We do well with leaf-wrapped cheeses but have had issues with imported ones," says Burns, "so any domestic one is pretty appealing." Retailers often sell these debutantes by comparing them to more familiar cheeses and giving shoppers a nudge. "I'll say, 'You always buy Epoisses; this time why don't you try this?'" says Rich Morrillo, cheese cave team leader for Di Bruno. For specialty cheese merchants like Morrillo, new products provide an opportunity for a conversation with shoppers, a chance to educate and build a relationship. Today, New York's cheesemakers are providing some of that novelty, and, Murray's Cheese buyer Steve Millard predicts, "They're going to catch up to Vermont for sure." An Environment for Growth "Once you get out of the metro area, New York is a relatively rural state," says Laura Downey, proprietor of retail shops Fairfield Cheese Company and the new Greenwich Cheese Company, both in Connecticut. "There's a lot of land and it's not that expensive. And it's relatively easy to get cheese to market." Downey credits the prominent dairy-science program at Cornell University, in Ithaca, with helping nurture the state's cheesemaking community. But enthusiastic retailers like Downey also deserve praise for introducing and advocating the newcomers' cheeses. Especially in her Greenwich store, where customers con- sider Europe the standard bearer, Downey and her staff can't count on locavore sentiment to move cheese. "We're constantly talking about these small producers," says the monger. Enterprising Producers Like several of her retailer colleagues, Downey has been especially impressed with Vulto Creamery, a 3-year-old enterprise in Walton, New York. Cheesemaker Jos Vulto, a Dutch immigrant, made his first cheeses in his Brooklyn apartment, aging them in a crawl space under the sidewalk. His Walton creamery now produces 300 to 400 pounds of cow's milk cheese a week, mostly washed-rind styles. "His cheese tastes like it has been made for 100 years," says Downey. "It is so technically good and so delicious." Like several others, she cites Vulto's Ouleout, a raw-milk wheel reminiscent of cheese focus Janet Fletcher writes the email newsletter "Planet Cheese" and is the author of Cheese & Wine and Cheese & Beer. CHEESE PLATES TO RECOMMEND Retailers share their favorite New York State combinations. Rich Morrillo, Di Bruno Bros. Four Fat Fowl St. Stephen Meadowood Farms Lorenzo Old Chatham Sheepherding Shaker Blue Vulto Creamery Ouleout Laura Downey, Fairfield and Greenwich Cheese Shops Nettle Meadow Kunik Old Chatham Sheepherding Ewe's Blue Sprout Creek Farm Bogart Vulto Creamery Ouleout Steve Millard, Murray's Cheese Four Fat Fowl St. Stephen Murray's Cavemaster Reserve Hudson Flower Old Chatham Sheepherding Ewe's Blue Sprout Creek Toussaint Jos Vulto, a Dutch immigrant, made his frst cheeses in his Brooklyn apartment, aging them in a crawl space under the sidewalk. His Walton creamery now produces 300 to 400 pounds of cow's milk cheese a week. 40 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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