Valley Shepherd’s Eran Wajswol has blasted out the side of a North Jersey hilltop with dynamite in his quest to make the ultimate cave-aged cheese. So how hard can it be to bring a steady milk supply into the Reading Terminal Market, where he plans to begin making cheese this summer?
“It’s a nightmare,” he says, the remnants of his Israeli-Belgian accent lilting with enough drama to make clear he’s also thrilled by the challenge. “To do this in a 120-year-old building, to drill a 15-foot double pipeline through the wall into our milk tank in the basement — it’s like making the Holland Tunnel. You pick a spot from both sides and just hope you meet in the middle.”
When that pipeline finally does connect and Wajswol (Why-sole) cranks up the 150-gallon cheese vat upstairs in the glassed-in production room being built at the rear of the market, local cheese aficionados will be in for something special: a working raw-milk creamery in full view of visitors, and a retail outlet with a grilled cheese panini counter for one of the most innovative and sophisticated cheesemakers on the East Coast.
“It will be Willy Wonka-ish in cheese form,” says market general manager Paul Steinke, who’s counting on Valley Shepherd to be one of the showpiece anchors for the ambitious “Avenue D” renovation project that is soon to inject new life into the market’s eastern edge. “There’s nothing like this that can be observed anywhere else in the city.”
Valley Shepherd Creamery: America’s Heartland Series