I am lucky to say that, in the cheese business, I have had the good fortune to have met some pretty incredible artisans and all-around cool people. Some you connect with right away, and upon that first meeting you know you’ve got a life-long friend. That is how I felt when I met the owner of Green Dirt Farm in Missouri, Jacqueline Smith.
Jacque is very passionate about her company, the cheese that they make, but most importantly, the health and well-being of the animals. This is what we connected on the most. As an animal lover, it is extremely important to me that that these animals – whether it’s a cow, sheep, goat or water buffalo – have great lives. After all, they’re providing nourishment for us, and it’s the least we can do for them. Green Dirt Farm is one of a few farms in the country that are Animal Welfare Approved. What this means is that the animals are allowed to behave naturally and socialize freely. You can read more about it on the Green Dirt website, www.greendirtfarm.com.
Now to the cheese. Not only are their practices top-notch, but the quality of their cheeses, all sheep milk, is tops. They make fresh cheese that can be equated to fresh goat cheese, but with a less tangy flavor. I have used it in recipes that call for fresh goat cheese and it works beautifully (think grilled pizza!). They also make a couple of aged cheeses that rival their French and Italian counterparts. Here’s a little bit about them:
In spring, Dirt Lover is firm and dense with a nuttiness balanced by the savory notes of the ash. In summer, it is firm when young and develops a creamy ring just under the ash which expands as the cheese ages.
Must try: Jacque’s Pizza
Pre-Prepared Pizza Dough
1 Package Green Dirt Dirt Lover
1 Container Basil Pesto
Fresh Figs or Dried Figs, Chopped
Spread pesto over prepared pizza dough. Thinly slice the Dirt lover and lay over the pesto. Finish with the figs and bake according to pizza dough instructions. Simple and delicious!
Woolly Rind tastes of milk and grass with some tanginess from the cheese cultures. As it ages it develops a lovely forest floor aroma and buttery, mushroomy flavors with a natural sweetness to the rind. Serve with a drizzle of honey and Sauterne before or after a meal for a simple and elegant summer aperitif.
Taste them all and enjoy!
~ Shannon Welsh, Heinen’s Cheesemonger