Good Taste: Sheep-tacular cheese
It's the sheep's big moment on the American cheese scene. A relatively new quartet of spectacular ewe's milk beauties from Meadowood Farm in Upstate New York is proof of the flavorful possibilities. Cheesemaker Veronica Pedraza, a veteran of Jasper Hill and Sweet Grass Dairy, is the one-woman show responsible. And she's produced four distinct delights, including a firm Fontina-like pressed cheese washed in cider called Lorenzo (currently rare), and a tomme-like Rippleton washed in fermenting beer that has an earthy echo. Two much softer cheeses, however, are showstoppers: Strawbridge, a rectangular log whose creamy halo and floury rind are inspired by Caña de Oveja; and Ledyard, a runny disc touched with skin-wrinkling geotrichum mold that gets wrapped in grape leaves soaked in Deep Purple, a wheat beer made at nearby Empire Brewing with Concord grapes. The effect is powerfully funky and magnetic, the oozy center taking on a fruity swagger from the brew. It's one of my new American favorites - but available only through the holidays, since the milking season is over. By next spring, though, the sheep and their cheese will be on the tasty march again.
- Craig LaBan
Meadowood Ledyard and Strawbridge, $25 a pound, at Valley Shepherd Creamery in the Reading Terminal Market, and all Di Bruno Bros. stores.