Nancy's Hudson Valley Camembert
Located in the upper reaches of the Hudson River Valley, Old Chatham Sheepherding Company was founded in 1993 by Tom and Nancy Clark, with 150 East Friesian ewes. It could be said that it was destined to happen, since at aged 10, Tom won a blue ribbon at the Dutchess County Fair for his Hampshire Sheep. At the time he pronounced to a local newspaper reporter that he wanted to raise a flock when he grew up. After life took his career in a different direction for a number of years, the Clarks did, in fact, end up raising that flock when they built Old Chatham Sheepherding Company. The couple has been involved in every aspect of the company, from the design of the barns to cheesemaking to working to maintain the property. Old Chatham not only produce cheeses, but also sheep’s milk yogurt. In fact, in 2007, the yogurt was in such demand that the milk supply on the property was strained. Consequently, they began a program working with a number of Amish farmers in their area to buy their milk as well as helping to increase the farmers’ sheep milk production. This ensured the Old Chatham was able to continue to maximise production of their cheeses and yogurts. Old Chatham’s own flock now numbers over 800 ewes comprised of East Friesian, Dorset Finn and various crosses and as such, constitutes the largest sheep dairy in the United States. Named after the company's co-owner, Nancy's Camembert is a meltingly creamy, soft ripened cheese, made from a blend of Old Chatham sheep's milk and cow's milk from a neighboring farm. When young, the texture is semi-soft in the center of the cheese, becoming smoother and softer just under the rind. The rind can be quite dense and slightly chewy. As the cheese matures, the texture becomes quite runny under the rind, while the center retains its cohesiveness.
Nancy's Camembert has a very smooth and buttery flavor, almost like a very rich ice cream. Although the cheese is pasteurized, notes of hay, grass and savory vegetal are present.
This cheese pairs very well with Champagne, since the effervescence cuts through the richness of the cheese.