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Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Shepherd is in

cheese and yogurt from Valley Shepherd Creamery
Last night I picked up a few "dairy-licious" products from the recently opened Valley Shepherd Creamery on 79 Sullivan Street in SoHo. I'd previously read about it in New York Magazine and thought I'd give it a try since it's just steps from where I work.

Upon arriving, I browsed the glassed cases, trying to decide what cheese I should try. The first cheeses I noticed were small, individually wrapped triangles of different types of cheeses, placed in a basket, with a sign hanging above them reading: Have a snack or try something new! Moving to the bulk cheese cases and scanning what was visible there, I still couldn't come to a decision. I finally decided upon their blue cheese.

I'd gone with the intention of taking home just one cut of cheese and spending no more than approximately $10. But when the woman behind the counter told me the price for my blue cheese ($5), I decided to pick out a few more goodies.

From the "have a snack" basket, I selected a triangle of oldwick shepherd; the woman told me it was similar to pecorino. I also asked about their yogurt--if it was strained, Greek style. She confirmed that it was and also that, yes, their yogurt is 'full fat.' (we don't do nonfat) I also asked about the bus trip tours of their creamery in New Jersey. (which include cheesemaking classes and a tour of their aging cave, carved into a hillside) She told me the owner hasn't organized the SoHo to New Jersey bus trips yet, but (if you can get there yourself) they have tours there every weekend.

On my way home, I also picked up a bottle of American sparkling, to go along with our 'dairy dinner.'

(Not as nice as I'd expected--I was told by one of my wine professors that Gruet comes close as a Champagne substitute--but I still didn't care for it. Its only characteristic was that it was quite dry, but other than that, there wasn't much character to it. $15)

The first cheese David and I tasted was the oldwick shepherd hard cheese. It was fine. I imagine it'd be nice as shavings on a pizza.

Next, we tried the blue.

Although it was attractive enough, I found the blue cheese, too, to be just 'fine.'
We decided we'd save trying the yogurt for breakfast, the following morning.

Upon opening the container this morning I was quite impressed with the thickness of the yogurt (thicker than Fage).

I scooped out three small spoonfuls. I again noticed its thickness with my first taste; the second thing I noticed was its wonderful tanginess.

At $5 (about the same price as a tub of Fage), I may never buy Fage again.

Overall, I'm not a huge fan of Valley Shepherd's cheeses (of what I've tried so far), but I'm definitely a fan of their yogurt. However, I'll probably continue to buy cheeses from them, perhaps for the mere fact that I'll know exactly where they're coming from. $13 well spent.

You can also order your own half or whole lamb (with a $50 deposit) for just $8 per pound, for a half lamb or $7 for whole. You can specify your own custom cuts and receive them ready to cook, frozen, labeled and wrapped in freezer paper.
Starting at about $250 for a whole lamb, a good idea might be to team up with a few friends and split the cost.
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