Cheese: Big Woods Blue
Who: Shepherd’s Way Farms
Where: Northfield, MN
Milk: sheep, pasteurized
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.
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.