A new family has moved into our cheese case! Please welcome Lunazzurra, Via Sopra, and Jane Goodall from Lillooet Sheep and Cheesery in Boxford, MA! Nathaniel Higley and Gillian Marino started the farm in 2015, making them hometown heroes in my book, and have just started cheese production in 2019. It took years of planning, careful stewardship of their farmland to produce the best pastures for their sheep, and lots and lots of testing to get Lunazzurra and Via Sopra, Gillian and Nathaniel’s very first cheesy children, out into the world! Jane Goodall, a firm, nutty, cocoa powder covered goat cheese named for the badass ethologist and animal rights advocate has been around longer from another local farm called Dancing Goats Dairy. However, Dancing Goats has recently merged with Lillooet, so now all the Dancing Goats cheeses will be under the Lillooet umbrella. There, a little cheese business talk for ya.
Lunazzurra and Via Sopra are both sheep’s milk cheeses are from Lillooet itself, which is a rare thing coming out of Massachusetts since there aren’t many sheep farms around. A farmer once told me that you get sheep because you love sheep, the end. Apparently, they are temperamental and finicky and they don’t produce nearly as much milk as cows. But that milk begets great cheese, so we really, really appreciate those crazy people out there willing to have the sheep and make the cheese.
Via Sopra is the youngest sheep’s milk cheese we’ve ever had, bright, sweet, and very green grassy. If you’re a ricotta fan, this one is for you because it has a similar mildness that highlights the flavors of the milk. I can’t wait to slap this little guy on a pizza, maybe in its full wheel form right in the middle of the dough. Then it’ll melt into a pool of oozy cheese, which is exactly how I like cheese on my pizza and my chocolate in my cookies – body of water-sized. The other, Lunazzurra (meaning blue moon) is also a fresh sheep’s milk cheese, but it is a little older than the Via Sopra. The name comes from the blue and grey rind, which is not only beautiful but also delicious! The cheese tastes yeasty and doughy, like barely baked biscuits, and the texture is rich and smooth.
We are very lucky to be working with the Lillooet crew because they are passionate about their work, creating cheeses we can’t wait to sell, and they are curious about what we (you and me) think about their cheeses. So come in and grab some, try it out, eat it right from the paper, cook with it, and let’s chat about it! Cheers to Lillooet joining our Massachusetts cheese family!
For the love of cheese and brand spankin’ new producers,