The first thing you need to know about sheep’s cheese is that it’s nothing like goat cheese. “When people think of sheep, they automatically think of goat and that really musty taste,” says Allyson Brennan, national sales and marketing manager at Old Chatham Sheepherding Creamery. “But sheep’s milk is clean and grassy.” Twenty years ago, Tom and Nancy Clark started the company with a flock of about 150 sheep and began making cheese in Old Chatham in Columbia County. Fast-forward to 2016 and the award-winning creamery has expanded to meet large customer demand.
The company makes three cheeses: Hudson Valley Camembert, Ewe’s Blue, and Kinderhook Creek, with the Camembert best known for its unique square shape (it also comes in wheels and wedges). Its soft, bloomy rind gives way to buttery flavor with a grassy finish. Ewe’s Blue is a fruity, Roquefort-style blue with plenty of veining. And Kinderhook Creek can be eaten straight from the store when the texture is a soft paste, or aged in the refrigerator for a few weeks until it becomes super soft and oozy. At that stage, you can slice off the top and serve the whole wheel at room temperature like a natural fondue, says Brennan.
There’s also a sheep yogurt (flavors include crystallized ginger, pure maple syrup, and mission fig, to be introduced this summer) that’s become a best-seller. You can find a selection of these products at local stores including June & Ho in Rye and Mrs. Green’s, or order them online (www.oldchathamsheepherding.com).