Recently I visited Great Ciao, one of the Twin Cities importer/distributor of fine cheese to talk the biz with Katie, their rep. Spent a great afternoon cutting wheels and trying their wares. While there I met the owner Scott Pikovsky, who also happens to make cheese with his wife Deborah at Star Thrower Farm in Glencoe, MN.
Scott and Deborah purchased the land, a former cattle dairy in 2007 and for the past five years have converted it to sustainable grazing for their flock of some 500 Icelandic ewes and rams. The return the waste products back to the land and, from their herd, make cheese, traditional skyr (a quite sheepy version compared the the more-common store brands like Siggi’s), and other retail items from the fibers of the sheep.
Their Camembert-style “Flocked Ewe” (great name given its bloomy rind) is not easily found for retail, most of what they make gets to restaurants, but can be found in a few locations. It’s an unusual cam, the texture is quite dry. chalky and dense. It doesn’t taste sheepy while eating it, but that notes of barnyard and lanolin are the last to hang around on your palate. Overall it’s mild, with notes of fresh veg and corn, common flavors among the style.
If you do find it and like Camembert, give this local Minnesota cheese a try. For wine pairing, this mild cheese will accentuate the herbs and spice notes of fruity reds: California cabs, Sangiovese-based wines, Barbera and French Gamay. A yeasty sparkler will always work.
Cheese: Flocked Ewe
Who: Star Thrower Farm
Where: Glencoe, MN
Milk Type: sheep (pasteurized)
Texture: soft but chalky-dense
Shape: 10oz wheel
Tasting notes: savory and mild, vegetal, corn, white mushroom with a slight, lingering sheepiness.