WitR Review: Big Woods Blue – Rising Like a Phoenix from the Ashes


Cheese: Big Woods Blue

Who: Shepherd’s Way Farms

Where: Northfield, MN

Milk: sheep, pasteurized

Rind: natural

Texture: firm, blue

Shape: 6-7lb 6″x4″ cylinder

Flavor: assertive but never blaring, biting; sweet and creamy

Two-time best in class: American Cheese Society

When the day comes that I finally own my own cheese shop, rest assured that Big Wood’s Blue will be one of our “house blues”.

And to think this exquisite cheese was almost lost, up in smoke.

Big Woods is one of several cheeses made by Steven Read and Jodi Ohlsen at Shepherd’s Way Farms in Northfield, just an hour south of me here in the Twin Cities. It located there after beginning in the mid-Nineties in Carver County, the Nerstrand, then to Northfield.

In 2005, not one, but two arsonist’s fires destroyed the majority of their flock, more than 300 sheep lost.

In a CIty Pages article from 2008, Dara Moskowitz Grundahl describes the tragedy that played out over days.

Thankfully, friends and community have allowed Shepherd’s Way to rise from the ashes. They’re making cheese again… and such a cheese.

The flavor of Big Woods is bracing: herbal, green, sharp and tangy, sure, but also creamy and a bit rambunctious like all goo sheep’s milk cheeses. There’s a good bit of crystalline crunch as well.

Texture is firm to crumbling while the paste is a clear ivory, heavily broken buy green-blue veins of mold.

This weekend I paired Big woods with a bowl of roasted carrot and cumin soup and Neal’s Yard Gubben, the review of that washed-rind cheese coming shortly.


2 comments on “WitR Review: Big Woods Blue – Rising Like a Phoenix from the Ashes

  1. […] cauterizing Cabrales. Heck, a blue cheese, local Minnesota sheep dairy Shepherd’s Way’s Big Woods Blue is the glamour-shot cover photo on Wedge in the Round’s companion Facebook […]

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