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Product Feature: Spreads and Dips

Last week, we took a look at the cheese population of our Grab & Go case. In doing so, we dipped our toes into another segment of the case: Hausmade spreads and dips.

Scallion Cream Cheese

A simple combination that yields a great flavor. This cream cheese dazzles tastebuds with just enough green onion flavor, and is the glue that holds together a grip of our deli sandwiches—the Northern Bagel, the Great Summer Caper, the Fuzzy Bunny (vegetarian), the Basic Bagel (also vegetarian!), the Sebu-Chan, and of course, the Cajun Finn. The Fish Basket pairs your selection of smoked fish with crackers and scallion cream cheese.

A favorite move among our staff is using scallion cream cheese as a kettle chip dip. Preferred flavor: Salt & Vinegar.

Scallion cream cheese is available upon request in our deli, and via pickup/delivery, for $2.25 per 4 oz container, $4.50 per 8 oz, and $9 per 16 oz.

Crayo

crayo sandwich

Crayo is so good it should be illegal.

The incomparable sauce that serves as the foundation for the Cold Turkey, Cedar’s Secret, and Purple Range sandwiches is undeniably one of the greatest components on our sandwich line.

Blended with healthy doses of garlic, walnuts, and dehydrated cranberries, this mayo is a flavor explosion. Honestly, the slurry those three ingredients produce would probably make a great sandwich spread on its own, but the inclusion of mayo smoothes it out and takes it to the next level.

Like most of the things on this list, Crayo excels as a condiment and a dip. Any time you want a combination of sweet and savory, Crayo will likely scratch that itch.

Crayo is available upon request in our deli, and via pickup/delivery, for $3 per 4 oz container, $6 per 8 oz, and $12 per 16 oz.

Olivada

Olivada—Kalamata olives, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and thyme—is a spread that might even turn the most olive-averse. I would know, because that is me, and I quite enjoy this spread. Garlic is magical.

Olivada doesn’t show up on any of our sandwiches—except for the short-lived Grab & Go Muffaletta (RIP)—but it’s a favorite “secret” ingredient on our catering charcuterie spreads, and when making sample platters during lunch rushes.

Enjoying olivada is as simple as finding something to spread it on: crackers, toast, that chicken you’re about to roast. Some might even enjoy it by the spoonful. Olivada compliments bright flavors like goat cheese or pepperoncinis.

Most days, you’ll find NWS Olivada in the Grab & Go case, for $5 per 8 oz container.

Scallion Spud Spread

Whether you’re placing it atop the potato, dipping the (fried) potato into it, or mashing the potato with it, our spin on the “Legendary” Midwestern dip has you(r potato) covered. Made with cream cheese, plain yogurt (rather than the traditional sour cream), scallions, garlic powder, and onion powder, and costing scarcely more than a bag of kettle chips, this deal is too good to pass up.

Our spud spread is available in our deli, or via pickup/delivery, for $1.50 per 6 oz container.

Smoked Salmon Pâté

Our Smoked Salmon Pâté is one of the most frequently re-stocked items in our deli. It’s spreadable, but not too smooth, it features a unique blend of spices and seasonings that might sound like the work of a mad scientist—it is: his name is Eric Goerdt—if we revealed it, and the flavor is tied together with the brightness of lemon juice and horseradish.

Miraculously, this highly-sought after spread is also a way we save on potential food waste, with a significant portion of the smoked salmon in each batch coming from the Atlantic salmon chunks that won’t retail well—those that are too moist to stay on the skin or hold their shape—and the leftovers when prepping smoked salmon portions for the sandwich line.

Smoked Salmon Pâté can hold its own on a cracker of your choice, but limiting yourself to just crackers would be foolish. A common pick-me-up snack for our deli staff is a slice of cucumber with a dollop of pâté, a slice of pickled ginger, and a cilantro sprig garnish. On our web store, we recommend making an omelette with S.S.P., which I have not personally tested, though if we’re advertising it on our website, I imagine it’s good. Try it out and get back to me.

In addition to making great snack fodder, S.S.P. is the main event on our Slammin’ Gordon and Salmon Melt sandwiches.

If there’s not Smoked Salmon Pâté in our Grab & Go case, something is likely wrong. It’ll be back in-stock ASAP. We sell it in 8 oz containers for $13, in our deli, or via pickup/delivery.

Pimiento Cheese

This rich and mildly-spicy cheddar cheese, peppers, and mayonnaise spread makes a mean ham & cheese sandwich, or an excellent dip. Set this out at your family gathering or game day celebration and watch it quickly disappear.

To ensure maximum flavor, we make our Pimiento with the finest aged cheddar cheese and Duke’s mayonnaise.

Most days, Pimiento is available in our deli, or via pickup/delivery It comes in 8 oz containers for $7.

NWS Boursin Cheese

Cream cheese, butter, garlic, lemon zest, and fresh handpicked herbs. This smooth and creamy cheese spread might be tempting to eat by the spoonful, though we recommend it alongside crackers and smoked salmon (or juicy, medium-rare steak medallions). This hausmade cheese is a staple of our catering offerings and the sample platters we put out during business hours. In addition to having a great herbal quality, it is also wonderfully sweet.

If you’ve exhausted all other ideas for using our NWS Boursin (or even if you haven’t), you could always honor the great state of Minnesota by making a fancy Juicy Lucy burger, substituting around a half-ounce of NWS Boursin for the American cheese product slice.

NWS Boursin is available for $7 per 8 oz container.


We hope this gives you a better picture of our Grab & Go case offerings. There’s a whole lot of daily variety, and new items hitting the shelves whenever the whim strikes us, but most of the products listed above can be expected on an average day.

If you find yourself in our deli and want to be even more intimately acquainted with these products, ask for a sample—we can usually oblige, and your own senses are the best judge of whether you like something.

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Product Feature: The Cheese Case

Cheese: The adult form of milk. Whether you’re a casual dabbler in cheese consumption or a hardcore tyrosemiophiliac, to many the olfactory thrill of cheese is irresistible. Though the 500-ish varieties recognized by the International Dairy Federation (and as many as 1,000 by other reckonings) share a common identity, the breadth and vastness of different flavors, textures, and uses of cheeses is challenging to conceptualize succinctly, but I’ll give it a shot. Cheese has personality.

We believe in the power of cheese. In earlier days of NWS, what we now call the Grab & Go Case was known as the Cheese Case. As long as we’ve been operating out of the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, we’ve been selling cheese alongside our charcuterie. And not just any cheese.

We believe in small farms and small batches—that terroir is as important as the style of cheese you’re purchasing. If we’re going to sell you cheese, it had better be a unique, curated selection of the finest regional cheeses available.

The real story of cheese at the Smokehaus isn’t just the individual varieties we carry—those (with a few exceptions) are always rotating—but the cheesemakers themselves.

Here’s what you can expect while browsing the cheese in our Grab & Go case.

Our favorite cheesemakers

Shepherd’s Way Farms Nerstrand, MN

Shepherd’s Way Farms’ mission statement elegantly expresses why they’re the kind of company we like to keep:

“At Shepherd’s Way Farms, we believe there is a way to live that combines hard work, creativity, respect for the land and animals, and a focus on family and friends. We believe the small family-based farm still has a place in our society. Everything we do, everything we make, is in pursuit of this goal.”

And the flavor of their farmstead sheep cheeses seals the deal.

From Shepherd’s Way, we regularly carry Hidden Falls and the 2017 1st place Farmstead Sheep Milk American Cheese Society winner, Friesago. From time to time, we get shipments of Shepherd’s Hope and Morcella. Learn more about those cheeses here.

Carr Valley Cheese La Valle, WI

Family-owned Carr Valley Cheese Company has been making high-quality Wisconsin cheeses the old fashioned way for over one-hundred years. Their cheeses are flavorful and accessible, and Sid Cook, their head cheesemaker, is one of the most decorated Master Cheesemakers in North America.

From Carr Valley, we regularly carry the mixed sheep & goat cheese Mobay, and their popular Apple Smoked Cheddar. Learn more about their cheese here.

Redhead CreameryBrooten, MN

Alise Sjostrom (the nominal redhead of the creamery) details the saga of her journey to exquisite cheesemaking in the About Us section of the company’s website (seriously, go read it), but the SparkNotes are as follows:

Making delicious, distinctive, small-batch handmade cheeses was Alise’s destiny.

Our typical Redhead Creamery array includes Lucky Linda Clothbound Cheddar, Little Lucy Brie, and North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster. Learn more about Redhead’s cheeses here.

Jasper Hill FarmGreensboro, VT

Okay, so Jasper Hill Farm doesn’t quite fit the bill of regionally-located cheesemakers, since Vermont is half a country away from us, but sometimes the exception proves the rule, and furthermore, to the New England region, they are a regional cheesemaker.

We’re losing focus of the task at hand.

Here’s a little blurb from their website that breaks down what they’re all about.

Jasper Hill is a working dairy farm with an on-site creamery in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. An underground aging facility maximizes the potential of cheeses made by the creamery, as well as those made by other local producers. Leftover whey from the cheesemaking process is fed to heritage breed pigs, roaming the woodlands beyond the cows’ pasture.

Jasper Hill cheeses are a recent addition to our deli offerings. While our Jasper Hill selections may vary, we’re especially fond of their Alpha Tolman and Willoughby washed-rind cheese. Learn more about Jasper Hill’s cheese here.

Alemar Cheese CompanyMankato, MN

Alemar Cheese Company are small batch makers of French-inspired soft-ripened and fresh cheeses.

Of Minnesotan-by-way-of-California cheesemaker Keith Adams’s meteoric rise to success, their website has to offer this anecdote:

Two years into production, he entered Bent River in the nation’s largest cheese competition, the American Cheese Society competition, and came in third place for cow’s milk Camembert-style cheese, prompting food critic Dara Moskowitz-Grumdahl to write: “It’s like starting to throw javelins one day, and coming home with an Olympic bronze two years later; it’s unheard of.”

Alemar easily occupies the largest piece of real estate in our Grab & Go case. Staples include their Bent River Camembert and Blue Earth Brie. Regular visitors to the case include the Surly Bender-washed rind Good Thunder, and grape leave-wrapped Sakatah. Alemar’s newcomer St. james Tomme is also looking to be a regular fixture in our deli. Learn more about Alemar’s cheese here.

Caves of FaribaultFaribault, MN

Cave-aged cheese! There’s something a little spooky, a little mysterious, and pretty awesome about the thought. Making use of the MN corn belt region’s natural sandstone gives this cheese a distinctive character.

World champion and master cheesemaker Jeff Wideman, of Maple Leaf Cheese in Monroe, WI sends the amazing Fini cheddar to the caves for affinage (a more involved continuation of the aging process) after two years of conventional aging. The caves accentuate the floral notes in the cheddar, and add earthy tones to the finished product.

Our standard CoF offerings are St. Pete’s Select bleu cheese and Fini sharp cheddar. Learn more about Caves of Faribault’s cheese offerings here.

A few others you can always expect

White cheddar

Whether it’s Milton Creamery’s Prairie Breeze or Sartori Montamoré, we love a good sharp white cheddar, especially those with nice citrusy undertones.

Goat cheese

Montechevre Goat Cheese Medallions, or as we like to call them, Goat2Go are a quick, cheap and easy dose of goat cheese goodness, which is why we always keep a few boxes on-hand. Various other goat cheese offerings come and go with the seasons, and half of the aforementioned Mobay (a customer favorite) is goat cheese.

Aged (yellow) cheddar

In addition to Caves of Faribault’s Fini, we really like Widmer’s 2-Year Cheddar. If we’re not carrying some variety of aged yellow cheddar, something has gone wrong. Ensue panicking.

Widmer’s Brick cheddar spread

Spreadable cheddar cheese—sounds way less classy than the experience entails. This sharp and smoky blend of Brick cheese and white cheddar will please refined palates, but is accessible enough to make everyone in the family happy. The best way to eat it is on a nice buttery cracker, but don’t limit yourself. This stuff is versatile.

Hausmade cheese

More accurately hausmade cheese spreads, but it’s too late for splitting hairs. We’re already here.

NWS Boursin

Cream cheese, butter, lemon zest, and fresh handpicked herbs. This smooth and creamy cheese spread might be tempting to eat by the spoonful, though we recommend it alongside crackers and salmon (or juicy, medium-rare steak medallions). This hausmade cheese is a staple of our catering offerings and the sample platters we put out during business hours.

NWS Pimento

This rich and mildly-spicy cheddar cheese, peppers, and mayonnaise spread makes a mean ham & cheese sandwich, or an excellent dip. Set this out at your family gathering or game day celebration and watch it quickly disappear.

Scallion Cream Cheese

We don’t keep this one in the Grab & Go case, but we can whip up a 4 oz, 8 oz, or 16 oz container of it for you in a jiffy! This cream cheese is the foundation of many of our most popular sandwiches, including the Cajun Finn, Northern Bagel, Great Summer Caper, and the vegetarian Fuzzy Bunny. Smooth and mouthwateringly savory.


Are you still with us? This has been merely a cursory look at our cheese options, with just a little bit of our cheese-buying philosophy, but we hope it has piqued your interest.

Where you get your cheese is important. Happy, well-treated animals yield better milk, and thoughtful, passionately-made cheeses beat out mass-produced cheese product any day.

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5 Things: December 13th, 2019

It’s the final Friday the 13th of the decade!

Welcome back to 5 Things™. This week we have a very important announcement: December 16th-18th are the final days of mail order shipping until next year. January 6th, to be precise, is when mail order shipping resumes. The last day to place an order to be shipped is Tuesday, the 17th.

This isn’t a good photo, but I hope it is useful.

Between writing a company newsletter and continuing to work on the cookbook, I’ve become a bit exhausted of words this week. The rest of this week’s Things™ will be mostly photographs. If there are words describing them, it is because I couldn’t help myself.

Duluth Winter Village.

Participating in the Duluth Winter Village at Glensheen is always a joy.

Photos by Sharon McMahon of Three Irish Girls Photography

Flo is a beacon of goodness in this world.
Everybody’s looking warm as heck out here.

One Window: Two Views.

I got to work at my favorite desk this week. Here’s the view right up against the glass.

And from a few feet back.

Art by Leif and his daughter.

Deli Life: Cheesy.

Our deli is stocked to the brim with amazing cheeses, like this trio from Jasper Hill Farms. I eagerly await the next shipment, since setting out a sample of the newly-arrived cheeses for employees to sample is common practice at the Smokehaus.

Carrot Cake Cookies are back!

In case you hadn’t noticed in that last photo—I get it: I’m not a great photographer and there’s a lot of glare/reflection—Patricia’s amazing cookie sandwiches are back in-stock.


Thanks for stopping by 5 Things™! See you next week!

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5 Cheeses We’re Crazy About

Sandwiches, smoked fish and smoked meats aren’t the only things we do here at Northern Waters Smokehaus: We’re also purveyors of fine cheeses, olives, sweet and savory baked goods, and variations on fermented cabbage—and that’s just the short list.

The holidays are a great time for cheese (though what isn’t?), so this week we’re going all-in on “the adult form of milk.” When I asked TK, the brains and the brawn of our cheese operation, for a list of his five favorite cheeses we’re carrying this holiday season, he went above and beyond with detailed notes on each. What follows is a sort of mind-meld between TK and myself.

Rush Creek Reserve

This time of year, the hyper-regional, hyper-limited release, hyper-delicious Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Cheese Co. is already on everyone’s mind—and may as well be on everyone’s tables too.

Rush Creek Reserve is made in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. It’s a washed rind, raw cow’s milk cheese that is a late autumn and winter exclusive. Don’t let “raw milk” cheese freak you out—after 60 days of aging, raw milk cheese passes the FDA’s raw milk laws.

In late autumn and leading into winter the cows diet changes from the fresh pastures of summer to the fall and winter hay, making their milk extremely rich and silky.

Rush Creek Reserve is made to show off this change in the cow’s diet. Made in the French & Swiss Alpine-style of Vacherin cheese, Rush Creek Reserve is wrapped in a hand-harvested piece of spruce bark. This helps the cheese keep its shape—due to its runny texture at peak ripeness—as well as adding tannins to its flavor.. The combination of the spruce and rich milk creates a rich custard texture with a very soft, delicate texture and a savory, rich finish. 

Rush Creek Reserve is an absolute must at holiday gatherings. Simply cut the top of the rind off and heap spoonfuls onto crackers, charcuterie, or just eat it on its own! This miraculous wheel pairs perfectly with a fruity Beaujolais wine. TK recommends with a glass of La Boutanche Gamay, which is available by the (re-corked) bottle in our deli.

Friesago

Shepherd’s Way Farmstead cheese is made in Nerstrand, MN by Jodi Ohlsen Read. This Asiago-style cheese is a natural-rind semi-aged sheep’s milk cheese. It’s semi-dense in texture and has an amazing grassy nuttiness to it. This cheese is extremely versatile for cooking: a perfect addition to pasta and TK’s favorite substitute for parmesan in a Caesar salad.

And TK isn’t the only one excited about it.

Friesago is a multiple time award-winning cheese by the ACS (American Cheese Society) in the Farmstead Sheep Cheese category.

Friesago pairs well with wines that have hints of salinity to them. “Salty wines?,” you may be thinking? No, winemakers never add salt to wines, ever. Think of it as a soil composition. Vineyards that are near salty bodies of water or grown in volcanic soil will bring salty notes to the wine. Think Sicilian wines. Grab a hunk of Friesago and a glass of Adrianna Occhipinti’s Sicilian made wine, Tami, sold right here at the Smokehaus.

Sakatah

Sakatah is a Dakota word meaning “Singing Hills”. It’s also the name of the Minnesota State Park between Mankato and Faribault, near Alemar Cheese Co.’s home.

This soft ripened cow’s milk cheese is seasonally made and is a great representation of an artisanal product. Wrapped in a Marquette grape leaf (a cold weather wine grape grafted by the U of M) Alemar is paying homage to the Banon and Le Mothais cheeses of Europe, using cow’s milk rather than goat’s milk.

Sakatah has balanced earthiness, provided by the tannins from the grape leaves, finishing with creamy, peppery notes.

Before serving, let the cheese sit out for 30-minutes to come to room temperature for its aroma and texture to be at its peak—this is a good practice with most soft and creamy cheeses.

Eat this cheese with wine that has a higher acidity, perhaps an unoaked Chardonnay, crisp Riesling—or if you are into ciders, try it with a French Brittany-made cider. La Brun is a delicious natural cider that pairs perfectly with Sakatah. If you’re in our deli and want to snack on a piece of Sakatah, it’s a must-try with the Pullus Pinot Grigio wine, made in Slovenia. 

Alpha Tolman

Jasper Hill Farm, in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, leads the US in artisanal cheese-making while being at the forefront of environmental impact & research of their farms. They are driven to be the standard bearer of quality and innovation in US cheese-making. 

Alpha Tolman is a brand new cheese to our deli (and to TK’s knowledge, we are the only shop in Duluth selling Jasper Hill Farm cheese). It is made from raw cow’s milk with 100% of the milk coming from a single herd. This herd happily roams the pasture right onsite at the Jasper Hill Creamery and Cellars.

Alpha Tolman is inspired by French & Swiss cheeses like Appenzeller & Raclette. It has a buttery, fruity & nutty flavor when young, developing a bold, meaty, caramelized onion character as it matures. The texture is dense and pliant, easily portioned and ideal for melting.

The texture, aesthetic, and flavor make Alpha Tolman an ideal choice for fans of Appenzeller (or fondue!). TK strongly recommends pairing Alpha Tolman with Smokehaus ham. Using your oven’s broiler, heap thin cuts of Alpha Tolman onto thick-cut Smokehaus ham until the cheese starts to blister and caramelize. Next take a healthy wad of butter and slowly brown it on your stove top. Drizzle the brown butter all over the ham and cheese then serve (on a roll or on its own). Absolute perfection!

Try pairing Alpha Tolman with a robust ale, such as Hoops #21 Ale (sold here in our deli!) or a Belgium-style farmhouse ale.       

Lucky Linda

Lucky Linda is Redhead Creamery’s clothbound cow’s milk farmstead cheddar. Made in the little town of Brooten in west central Minnesota, this six-plus-month aged cheddar has gained notoriety in its relatively young existence (Redhead’s first wheel of cheese being made in 2014). Each wheel of cheese is aged right under the creamery in their cellars, allowing natural molds to create their ridiculously terroir-driven cheese. 

Rustic-looking in style, this clothbound cheddar has notes of bold mushroom, with sharp creaminess, nuttiness, and a balanced lactic finish. 

Pairing Lucky Linda with a dry cider is a no-brainer, especially Sociable Cider’s Freewheeler—guess where you can find it. Not a cider person? Try it with Fulton’s Standard Lager. The caramel notes of Lucky Linda and the maltiness of the Standard Lager deliciously compliment each other.   


Cheese is a sophisticated addition to whatever snack you’re planning, and can add dimension to many an entree. It’s an easy gift—easier if you have any inclination as to your giftee’s preferred flavor palate. Cheese, the scientific community tells us, is like a drug. These, and many more reasons, are why we’re so excited about our carefully curated lineup of (mostly) local/regional cheeses. We do our best to offer a unique selection of handmade cheeses. This isn’t American Cheese Product: This is the real deal. Every cheese in our inventory has a story—the kind you’ll be glad to share with your friends and loved ones.

You’ll taste the difference.

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Cheese Wiz: Morcella

I have been waiting for this cheese & this moment since last spring…. Let me cordially invite your life into the life of foraged perfection – Morcella.

Handmade by our great friends at Shepherd’s Way Farms, Morcella is a seasonal, soft-ripened sheep milk cheese with local morel mushrooms. Made in small batches with only spring and summer milk, Morcella is a creamy, earthy cheese with a mottled bloomy rind. Like the morel mushrooms it is named for, Morcella is only around for a limited time… this is seriously something you do not want to go with out.

From Penterman Farms out of Thorp, Wisconsin, I introduce Marieke Gouda. This gouda is classified as a “young” gouda and is aged in the traditional Dutch fashion. Aged only for 2-4 months, this cheese made from raw cow’s milk, salt, enzymes, and cultures.  

Creamy, buttery and mild with slightly sweet notes. Pair with peach preserves and toasted almonds, buttery Chardonnay or any farmhouse ale.

Expert, licensed cheesemaker, Marieke Penterman and her team, handcraft traditional Dutch Goudas using the time-tested, Old World, cheesemaking methods Marieke brought with her when she emigrated from the Netherlands. Marieke transforms farmstead-fresh, raw, cow’s milk from her family farm into award-winning cheese, which is then carefully cured on imported Dutch pine planks in temperature and humidity-controlled aging cellars.

Back by popular demand – CHEESE CURDS!

Eichten’s Hidden Acres cheese curds are sold in 8oz containers for ONLY $4!

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Cheese Wiz: North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster

More cheese from the Land of 10,000 Lakes…

NEW TO US from the redheaded cheesemaker at Redhead Creamery, out of Brooten Minnesota, welcome their French-inspired-with-an-American-twist, North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster!

This American-style Munster is a soft ripened cow’s milk cheese with a washed rind of local whiskey—Panther Distillery’s “Minnesota 14 Whiskey” out of Osakis, Minnesota. This collaborative cheese experience found itself winning 4th place at the Minnesota State Fair in 2017.

Looking past the local achievement and publicity, to the cheese itself, this French-inspired munster has a russet-colored rind with a chalky-white interior. Like many other soft ripened cheeses, this Munster will become more oozy, develop a stronger aroma, and the rind will darken with age.

This farmstead cheese has notes that will remind you of the barnyard it is made in. Creamy, rich, and pungent this cheese pairs well with an array of food: Sweet fruits, such as cherries, pears, plums, and many other stone fruits, as well as rustic breads, such as rye bread with flavors of anise, fennel, and licorice.

This cheese pairs well with many lagers or pilsners, and juicy red wines: pinot noir and Beaujolais (my personal favorite red) as well as sweet white wines: chardonnay, pinot gris, and riesling.

This cheese is best served at room temperature. Leave it out for 20 minutes before diving in!        

We have become familiar with Shepherd’s Way Cheese these last few weeks, most recently the Shepherd’s Hope fresh sheep cheese. Welcome to the case Shepherd’s Hope with garlic & herbs!

Shepherd’s Hope is a unique mild, fresh sheep’s milk cheese with a gentle citrus note at the finish. Another multiple award-winning cheese from Shepherd’s Way Farms. Shepherd’s Hope is exceptional with a crisp Chardonnay and a fresh baguette or in a tomato basil salad… now with the added flavors of fresh garlic & herbs!

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Cheese Wiz: Shepherd’s Hope

Back again from our friends in Nerstrand, MN, Shepherd’s Way Farms, I reintroduce to you:

Shepherd’s Hope is a unique mild, fresh sheep’s milk cheese with a gentle citrus note at the finish. Another multiple award-winning cheese from Shepherd’s Way Farms. Shepherd’s Hope is exceptional with a crisp Chardonnay and a fresh baguette, or in a tomato basil salad.

But wait… haven’t we had this cheese before?
YES! AND IT’S AMAZING.

However, there is something a little extra special about this specific batch of Shepherd’s Hope.. You may recall from my last cheese update that I went down to the farm and spent the afternoon learning about Shepherd’s Hope. More specifically about the drop in barometric pressure caused all the mama sheep to give birth to baby lambs all at once. 120 lambs to be precise!
After a mammal is born, it is extremely important that they have their mother’s milk. This first milking is hyper packed with nutrients and protein and is called colostrum. This cheese IS NOT colostrum milk. Rather it is the first batch of cheese made from the mother sheep’s milk after the baby lambs have had their fill.

REALLY EXCITING MILK!

 This sheep didn’t appreciate me staring at all the butts


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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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From TK’s Desk: Raclette

Its Alpine cheese season.

Welcome this magnificently melty cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland: Raclette!!

Raclette is the cheese of legend, based on the story of a man from Valais by the name of Leon. One cold day, with food scarce in the open pastures, Leon heated up a piece of cheese on the open fire to ease his hunger and keep warm. He found the melted cheese had a transcendent flavor. It not only complemented other foods – it made a great, satisfying meal for his family. Popular since the Middle Ages, Raclette is still produced with milk from cows that are fed fresh grass in the summer and meadow hay in the winter.

The word raclette stems from the French verb racler, or “to scrape.” This cheese is a staple in the Swiss & French Alpine culinary culture and has to follow strict regulations from the cows to the creamery to the finishing process (the affinage). Each raclette has to have an official quality mark AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protegée) which is reserved for traditional products with long-standing regional origins.

Melt this cheese and serve it on top of anything from bread to cured meats, potatoes, pickles, or just about anything else.

Enjoy raclette with a glass of Alpine wines, such as the Swiss Fendant, French Savoy, rieslings, or pinot gris. Not into wine? Try it with warm tea or other warm beverages.  

Sold in our deli for $23/lb.

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From TK’s Desk: Rush Creek Reserve

When we get new, exciting cheeses in the shop, TK writes us a memo detailing how to describe it to customers. These write-ups have frequently inspired me to serve and experiment with these cheeses. Here are his notes:

Uplands Cheese Company’s Rush Creek Reserve, is a washed-rind, raw, cow’s milk cheese that is an Autumn exclusive.

As the cows begin to change their diet from the fresh pastures of Summer to the Fall and Winter hay, their milk becomes rich and silky.

Rush Creek Reserve is made to show off the rich, unctuous texture of his hay-fed milk. This delicate, soft and seductive cheese is beautifully hand-wrapped with spruce bark, then aged 60 days.

Rush Creek Reserve is made in Dodgeville, Wisconsin.
Each wheel is 12oz and is retailed for $35/wheel. They will not be cut into smaller portions.

We are fortunate to bring in this extremely seasonal and small batch cheese.. We will be getting only 16 of these wheels in from now until December.
A few words from its maker, Andy Hatch, “…savory custard, as it exudes a very soft, delicate texture with a savory, rich finish likened to cured meat…”

Since the cheese is produced in the fall and only available in November and December, it is typically served during one sitting and not stored for any extended period of time. If you do not finish the cheese in one serving, shame on you. Just kidding… Simply wrap it up in its breathable wrap and store in the coolest part of the fridge.

To properly eat this cheese, let it settle to room temperature (approximately 30 minutes of sitting out), then slice off the top rind, exposing the custard-like, soft center that has a paste-like consistency. This can be scooped out with a spoon and applied in healthy-sized portions onto a cracker, slice of bread, or any other face-stuffing vehicle.

Pair with sparkling or dry white wine (think Sauvignon Blanc, chardonnay, or a flowery riesling (German rieslings are a perfect seasonal fit). Rush Creek’s flavor also complements stone fruits, braised red meats, pates, and Smokehaus salumi (saucisson is my favorite with this, but pepperoni is also amazing).

Thanks, TK. Rush Creek Reserve is available in the deli now until it’s gone.