We have so many phenomenal new American Artisanal cheeses trickling into to the Ciao House, that it makes my heart go pitter patter when I walk into the cheese cave. It is important to note that many of these cheeses are shipped to us in in small batches to ensure freshness, and are made seasonally, so we’ll do our best to keep them in stock especially if you let us know that you are featuring them on your menu. But as with all hand-made products there will be some factors beyond our control (milking seasons, the weather, uncooperative microbes…) These are the cheeses we love, and we’ll rotate through them as they become available to us. Shoot me an email if you would like to be signed up to receive our weekly cheese stock and preorder list so that you can see what’s ripening in the cave.
The story of Green Dirt Farm begins with husband and wife Sarah Hoffman and John Spertus, two medical school graduates working in San Francisco. Sarah grew up living on a series of small farms (her father: a Naval Officer, preferred living in the country as opposed to life on the military base), meanwhile John was a city boy from LA. It had always been Sarah’s dream to raise her family on a small organic farm, so when the time came to start a family, they searched for land close to an urban center where John could continue to practice medicine. Small-town Weston, Missouri was a short commute from Kansas City, and in 1996 they bought a 25 acre parcel of land where they built their home.
With one small caveat, the soil was highly erodible, and not a fit for growing the organic crops that Sarah had originally envisioned. After researching the soil type, they learned that it was best for growing prairie grasses. And the best natural lawnmowers are… sheep! In 2002 they purchased a dozen Katahdin sheep, and a dozen Gulf Coast Sheep, which formed the base of today’s mixed herd of 200 milking ewes. As it turns out, Sarah’s background in chemistry was a perfect fit for cheesemaking, and after traveling to France and attending workshops around the country, she began to hone her craft. By 2012 Green Dirt Farm was making 1,200 pounds of sheep-milk cheese.
The key to Green Dirt Farm’s success is in the name, they believe that “raising [their] sheep on carefully tended pastures not only produces happy sheep and high-quality, flavorful milk; it also prevents soil erosion and helps to build top soil.” Their sheep are kept on a pastured diet of varied grasses, which leads to exceptional milk quality, and in turn, phenomenal tasty cheeses that carry all of the health benefits of pastured dairy products. In addition, Green Dirt Farm is Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) which means that they raise their animals humanely, outdoors on pasture, and enable them to behave naturally and socialize freely. Healthy soil, tasty grasses, happy sheep, and a team of super talented cheesemakers, all play a role in the gorgeous cheeses we just started bringing in from Green Dirt Farm. It’s no wonder that Green Dirt Farm brought home nine awards from the American Cheese Society Conference last month!
Dirt lover is a bloomy rind cheese with a light coating of vegetable ash. Applying ash to the rind of cheeses is an old-world cheese making technique that helps to neutralize the pH of the rind, encouraging the desired rind formation. The dark line from the ash makes Dirt Lover a striking addition to a cheese plate.
Dirt lover tastes buttery, lemony, and mushroomy, and becomes earthy and beefy with age. It smells of wet dirt, like working in the garden.
2016 ACS Awards: 3rd place in Sheep’s Milk aged 31-60 days
Ruby is a Stracchino-style blended milk cheese, very loosely inspired by Robiola Due Latte. This is the first cheese we have made using cow’s milk at GDF. The cheese is washed during the first two weeks of aging, which adds a faint rosy hue beneath the powdery white rind that grows in after.
This cheese is buttery and floral with grassy notes. It has a pleasantly tangy, almost yogurt-like flavor when young and becomes fruitier with age. The paste is creamy and pliable with a satisfying texture similar to soft bread dough.
Drink with an oaky Chardonnay, mild creamy beers. Serve with spicy arugula salad or a variety of charcuterie. Due to the subtlety of this cheese, it lends itself beautifully to cooking. It will enhance and compliment almost anything. A Green Dirt favorite is to use Ruby on a flat bread pizza with pesto, caramelized onions and walnuts.