Shepherd’s Way Farm, a farmstead sheep dairy and creamery, conjures images of the ancient pastoral seasonal rhythm that has guided our collective agrarian history. Flocks of animals are grazing, moving from pasture to pasture, gathering sustenance and producing milk that would nourish the community in coming seasons.
Cheese Connoisseur: You have written about wines and spirits from around the world. I live in upstate New York and am proud of our wines. What can you tell me about production in New York so that I can claim bragging rights and spread the word?
Ron Kapon: There are wineries in all 50 states. Yes, dear readers, Alaska and Hawaii do make wine. Clearly, California is the juggernaut with 89 percent of all U.S. wines coming from the Golden State. Eureka! On a global scale, the United States is the fourth-largest wine producing country after France, Italy and Spain. New York is the third state in the production of wine and fourth in total number of wineries with 320. The state of Washington is number two in the production of wine. As for wineries, California leads the count with 3,782, Washington boasts 681 and Oregon has 599.
To get to Salt Tasting Room in Vancouver’s Gastown neighborhood, one must venture down a cobblestoned backstreet nicknamed Blood Alley. Located in the oldest part of the city, the alleyway’s name may conjure up frightening images of nefarious pirates or gun-wielding gangsters from Gastown’s past, but the moniker’s real origin is not that scary at all. Neither is the short walk to Salt.
Editor’s Note: One afternoon I received a call from Sebastien Lehembre, senior brand manager at Group Savencia (Alouette Brand) asking if I would like to spend a day with Roland Barthélemy “playing with cheese.” To understand my delight, one must understand the respect Barthélemy holds in the international cheese community. Not only did I feel honored, but also surprised and slightly intimidated.
It’s a rainy Wednesday night in New Orleans, and the cheese shop is packed. We’re here at St. James, a retailer located on the edge of the city’s business district, sandwiched between a surf-themed dive bar and slick, remodeled hotels. Inside the glassy front of St. James, well-appointed New Orleanians, from girls on a night out to older couples, sit at a couple dozen tables, their attention focused on a tray of four cheeses in the middle of each table. It’s a full house at the Alpine cheese tasting night, and a great night to be a cheese connoisseur in New Orleans.
Ah, the beauty of a well-aged cheese. This summer, the affinage (cheese ripening) process reached new heights — or in this case, new depths — of maturity when a food believed to be cheese was discovered on the wreckage of the Swedish warship, Kronan.