Nettle Meadow's Sappy Ewe: A cheesemaker, curds and maple syrup walk into a bar...
Though Sappy Ewe might sound like the punchline of a foodie joke, its real, new, and surprisingly delicious.
Sappy Ewe is Nettle Meadow's newest cheese.
The first time I heard about the savory-sweet Sappy Ewe was when rustling through a box of samples at Cheese & Sundry, a new cheese and tasty-things distributing company in Berkeley. My friend Emiliano and I were hanging out in their walk-in fridge (about the size of Mariah Carey's closet) when he introduced me to the cheese. I had just eyed the 80-pound wheel of Rodolphe le Meunier's Comté and decided it was too big to stash in my coat and run when Emi picked up the tiny Nettle Meadow wheel. Distracted by the 80-pound cheese, I only heard maple syrup, sheep and cow, and Nettle Meadow.
"Do you want to try it?"
I raised my eyebrows at him and nodded.
Going back to the post title. What happens when a cheesemaker, curds, and maple syrup walk into a bar? If you guessed a spiked cheese-curd pancake party, you might not be wrong depending on the day. But in this case, a gorgeous regional cheese.
Nettle Meadow takes sheep and cow's milk cheese curds (the curds of milk that's been firmed to a thick-custard texture) and drizzles them with maple syrup from Adirondack mountains. Then they fill the curds into crottin-style molds to age. The cheese has a brie-like, bloomy rind that before shipping out, they dust with ash from local black pine trees. It's a New York cheese all the way.
The result is a rich, small sliceable cheese that tastes like brown butter, fresh hazelnuts, and maple ham that knocks the idea out of the water that cheese is always better left alone. Though the list of ingredients might give the impression of sweetness, Sappy Ewe is mellow, subtle, and fit for a cheese plate before or after dinner.
Wine: Before dinner, pair with a yeasty Champagne or rich Viognier. After, pair with something tawny, spicy and sweet like a sweet sherry or vin santo
After dinner? Amazing with chocolate. Tazo's stone ground vanilla-bean chocolate offered a crunchy bite to the silky cheese.