Tuesday, September 13, 2011

BAAH! Cheesemaker Plans RTM Outpost
Fresh Cheeses To Be Made On Site

Some of the more than 600 sheep
in Valley Shepherd's flock
Valley Shepherd Creamery is expected to be the first new vendor to occupy space along the Reading Terminal Market's Avenue D.

Earlier this month the RTM and cheesemaker Eran Wajswol signed off on a proposal to occupy about 700 square feet across Avenue D from what will soon be Molly Molloy's gastropub.

The shop will be located along the RTM's back wall, where it will be easiest to pipe in fresh milk from delivery trucks. That's necessary because Wajswol plans to make fresh cheese on premises for market shoppers. At Valley Shepherd's farm store in Long Valley, N.J., his fresh offerings include cream cheeses (no gums or additives) and ricotta.

As its name implies, Valley Shepherd specializes in sheep milk cheeses, although some of its products are cow-sheep mixes.

Although Valley Shepherd plans to make fresh cheese at the RTM, its cave-aged product earned the creamery its stellar reputation. Wajswol went so far as to blast an aging cave into a hillside on his farm. One of his cheeses, a Gouda-like product, spends two years in the cave.

If you haven't had a chance to try Wajswol's cheeses, you're missing one of the best artisinal products available. At least one variety is usually in stock at the Fair Food Farmstand at the RTM, often Shepherd's Basket, a Basque style aged for four to five months. With the exception of the fresh cheeses and yogurts, everything else is made from unpasteurized raw milk. You can get an idea of the offerings at Valley Shepherd Creamery's website.

In addition to the store at the northwest New Jersey creamery. Valley Shepherd operates a small store on Sullivan Street in Manhattan's SoHo district, and soon will be opening another in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood. The RTM store will be its third owned and operated retail outlet. In addition to restaurants, like New York City's Le Bernardin, Wajswol sells at various farmers' markets in New York and New Jersey.

If all goes according to plan, you might see Valley Shepherd at the RTM by late spring, according to Paul Steinke, the RTM's general manager.

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