Specialty Food Magazine


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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Page 38 of 131

A nyone who becomes a cheese lover becomes a sheep's milk cheese lover," claims Amy Thompson, cheesemonger for Lucy's Whey in New York City. A generalization, to be sure, but few in the specialty cheese world would dispute it. Ask a cheese professional about his or her favorites, and sheep's milk wheels—from Italy's aromatic pecorinos to France's Basque beauties—often head the list. Now, finally, the U.S. has some of its own worthy sheep cheeses to add to the mix, and merchants report robust demand for them. As the domestic supply of sheep's milk grows, more cheeses will surely debut, helping populate a category that 20 years ago hardly existed. Slow Start When the Atlas of American Artisan Cheeses was published in 2007, the compendium listed only 40 sheep cheese producers. Five years later, the number had climbed to 60, says Jeff Roberts, the book's author. Amish farmers in the Midwest, Pennsylvania, and New York are adding dairy sheep to their operations and supplying milk to established creameries like Old Chatham Sheepherding Company in New York's Hudson Valley. The slow beginnings for sheep cheese production in this country ref lect both his- tory and economics. Until recent times, America's ovine breeds were those valued for meat and fiber, such as the Merino and Churro (also known as Churra) sheep from Spain and the French Rambouillet. European dairy breeds, such as the East Friesian and Lacaune, didn't show up until the mid-1990s. But by 2001, the USDA had closed the door on imported livestock to prevent the spread of mad cow disease and scrapie, a similar disease that affects sheep. The ongoing livestock ban has ham- cheese focus Summer Fancy Food Show Booth 1551 Rob Graf from Venissimo Cheese sees the whole sheep's milk category as wide open for would- be cheesemakers — especially the unflled niche of fresh, soft- ripened cheeses. 36 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com cheeseFocus_S14.indd 36 3/11/14 3:21 PM

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