Cheese: Dirt Lover
Producer: Green Dirt Farm
Age: Six to Eight Weeks
Style: French farmhouse (Sells-sur-Cher, Valençay)
As cheesemongers, we often joke about our first "cheesepiphany"- that moment when a cheese completely changes those preconceived ideas of how things should taste. I've had both the privilege and the luxury of tasting some mighty fine cheeses over the years, but Green Dirt Farm's "Dirt Lover" has risen to the top of my "mind-blowingly awesome" list.
Dirt Lover starts off simple enough: a small button of young vegetal ash-dusted cheese sporting a lovely bloomy rind. One cut in reveals a black ring of ash just under the rind, followed by a ring of ivory creaminess surrounding the fresh crumbly middle.
There are many things that set this cheese apart. The first would be the sheep's milk that is used to make it. Dirt Lover has the trademark of most sheep's milk cheeses- that
robust yet subtle gaminess, but with a hint of healthy wet earth topped off with the suggestion of tangy citrus. The edible rind adds in those luscious grassy flavors, truly
bringing meaning to the name "Dirt Lover."
Another thing that sets this cheese apart would be the farm that it comes from, and their dedication to healthy and humane farming practices. Nestled in the Missouri River Valley, Green Dirt owners Sarah Hoffman and Jacqueline Smith run an Animal Welfare Approved sheep farm, using techniques that encourage a healthy and happy herd. Their animals enjoy daily fresh pastures void of synthetic fertilizers. Hoffman and Smith also avoid unnecessary antibiotics or hormones with their herd, promoting healthy sheep through natural grazing and socialization practices. Hoffman and Smith share a belief and a commitment to community-based farming, where customers enjoy transparency as to where and how the product was produced- a vital tool for those of us wishing to promote both sustainable and humane farming practices.
Dirt Lover is a delicious conundrum: Two parts earthiness for one part sunshine, every bit as simple as it is complex. Try a pairing of Dirt Lover and a naked Chardonnay
(Bouchard comes to mind) to really bring out the fruity notes layered in the cheese, or try it out crumbled on top of a hearty salad of dried cherries and pecans.
Lindsey Sharp is a Senior Counter Associate and Product Receiver at our Broadway shop. When she's not working or drinking wine, she can be found watching bad movies, riding bikes, or clumsily teaching herself to play mandolin.