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From TK’s Desk: Friesago

New cheese this week!

Last weekend, Nic and I had the pleasure to travel down to God’s Country, southern Minnesota, where we spent the afternoon at Shepherd’s Way Farm, a sheep & cheese farm. Jodi Ohlsen Read, the Master Cheesemaker, is a master of her craft and a badass person. For her, cheese and raising animals isn’t her job, it’s her life and passion…. And just as the barometric pressure dropped (when we got that big snowstorm) ALL of their pregnant sheep gave birth, AT ONCE! This can be a common phenomenon in the animal world.

Shepherd’s Way cheese is classified as farmstead cheese – meaning that the animals are raised and milked—and the cheese is made—right on site. Not a very typical practice in this day and age.

From the farm, I present to you, FRIESAGO  (free sah go)  $28/LB –

A 2017 First Place American Cheese Society winner for Farmstead Sheep Milk, Friesago is a natural-rind semi-aged sheep milk cheese with a dense texture, pleasant mild flavor, and a slightly nutty finish. A multiple award-winner, Friesago is versatile as a table cheese and as a cooking cheese.

Substitute Asiago cheese with this local Friesago and you will thank yourself.  Grate this over your pasta, soups, salads or try this: Brown some butter, drizzle it over thinly sliced smoked ham, then with a mandoline, thinly slice the cheese over it… man, oh man, I’m making this at my next dinner party. Woof. Or put it on your charcuterie plate.  

A little tidbit about sheep’s milk & cheese… sheep don’t produce the same volume of milk as cows do (sheep yield about 1 qt of milk a day where a cow can be milked twice a day getting 8 qts). Sheep’s milk has almost double the amount of protein in it (as well as double the amount of calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc,  thiamin, riboflavin, Vit. B6 and B12, and Vit. D, and the 10 essential amino acids) – meaning there is almost double the amount of solids in it, allowing you to produce the same amount of curds with significantly less the amount of milk. Wild, isn’t it? And sheep’s milk tends to be easier on the stomach for folks who cannot digest cow’s milk.

Here are some photos I took of the farm & creamery:

OH! AND WE HAVE CHEESE CURDS FROM EICHTEN’S (out of Center City, Minnesota). We’ll let you know!

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“5” Things: March 1st

Some love the crisp Minnesota winter air.

It can be invigorating (I’ve heard). Jackets piled over sweaters sound cozy (in theory). Perhaps the most salient justification I can come up with is that the contrast of winter makes the balmy air of summer more meaningful.

All I know is that within minutes of touching down in Minnesota after my vacation, I was struck by a terrible cold, which kept me away from work, and still has me feeling like my head is stuck inside a fishbowl. Which wouldn’t really be so bad, if I didn’t want to provide you with a thoughtful 5 Things™ blog this week. Today’s blog is largely based on what sort of information I could gather in about two hours, while maintaining several arm’s lengths of distance between myself and all of my co-workers.

It is said that February is the cruelest month of the year, in terms of weather and temperature. I don’t know if any such things are said about March, but not “the cruelest month of the year” is good news to me.

Other good news this week includes:

A NWS Staff Party! We’re finally having our holiday party, and it is hosted by Pizza Lucé. Others may party more heartily, but nobody gets down quite like the Smokehaus. Our last party was the public 20th Anniversary party we threw back in September 2018, so it’ll be good to get back to basics and have a shindig for the team. I’m crossing all my fingers and toes, and I’m holding my breath as long as I can before the coughing fit is triggered, that I am back in good health in time for this party, since “free” Pizza Lucé pizza is a very exciting proposition.

Regardless of whether I am there, it is sure to be an excellent display of Smokehausers in the wild, gathered around the watering-hole, if we have any urban documentarians in our readership, that’s a free tip.

The Buddy System is not the official name of this new package deal, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it should be*. Our grab&go case now features six-packs of Buddies—two each of our New Mexican hatch chile Big Jims, the bacon-cheeseburger-in-a-casing goodness of our Royale With Cheese, and the NWS classic, Bison Buddies. These six-packs are on sale for $12 each and make great gifts to yourself or others.

Same general appearance, vastly different flavor profile.

Smoked Salmon Buddies are the real deal as well. The smokers assure me the recipe—which includes a blend of Atlantic and Sockeye salmon as well as ginger and coriander (a couple of my favorite flavors)—is perfected. The Salmon Buds are available from our fish case for $3/stick.

Patricia continues to innovate with her cookies and pastries. This week, she took cues from authentic Jewish delis and whipped up a small batch of deli rolls: mini puff-pastries stuffed with turkey, pastrami and mustard, and topped with sesame seeds. This blog will almost always be posted on Friday, and yet so many of these exciting new small-batch items hit our shelves on Thursdays.

Heed this suggestion: if you want to be on the cutting-edge of new NWS specials and experiments, don’t wait for the announcement—just stop on in (or check our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages) and ask if there’s anything new and exciting to try.

On the cookie front, she basically hit my flavor preferences right on the nose with peanut butter & curry cookies. Thank you, Patricia.

Speaking of special things:

This is the last weekend that we’re serving the Sandwich Lab experiment known as The Wagner.

The Wagner is one heck of a sandwich. For those who haven’t tried it yet, it is your choice of Maple-Sage Smoked Turkey or Smoked Pastrami atop a mayonnaise-, Misty Mountain Mustard-, and sriracha-adorned hero roll, and topped with healthy portions of sweet’n’sour quick pickles and cilantro. This sandwich has the sauce, and if you’re keeping track of your sandwiches, it and the other monthly Sandwich Lab specials get you two stamps.

Catch it while you can. Sunday’s the last day.

Beginning Monday, March 4th, we’ll be serving up the next Sandwich Lab special: The Spinderella. Official announcement forthcoming.

I think, after like 8 Things™, that it is time for me to go back to sleep. It’s been real. I hope you grace us with your presence in the deli, or order some delivery/mail order so we can grace you with ours.

*It occurs to me we have used this name in a Homegrown Music Festival-related campaign. Please forgive any confusion I may have caused.