Cheese of The Week is a weekly feature on The Daily Meal, drawing on the expertise of internationally renowned cheese expert and consultant Raymond Hook. What follows is based on an interview with Hook.
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Bellwether Farms, run since 1992 by the Callahan family in Sonoma County, Calif., produces some of the highest-quality sheep’s milk cheese you’re likely to find. Their San Andreas is similar to a Tuscan Pecorino but a bit smoother and deeper. While all the cheese they produce is aged a minimum of 60 days, the San Andreas is ages for three-and-a-half to five months.
The 3-pound wheels are semi-firm, and the flavor of the cheese is smooth, creamy, and complex. It’s not too sharp, but a bit gamy (as the best sheep cheeses are), and tastes like sweet, clean milk.
"Liam Callahan is focused, there every day ensuring quality, and is an unheralded great American cheesemaker," said Raymond. "The cheese is aged on wooden planks, and it’s not hard but not fudgy, and the animal flavor is aged out of it. It’s not a huge sheep cheese, but it’s incredibly delicious. All the sheep are also right on the property, so they’re not trucking milk in."
Raymond recommends pairing the cheese with apples pears, and grapes, but suggests eating it on its own. He likes drinking it with Lagunitas Hop Stoopid, which is brewed within 20 miles of Bellwether and has a big, bold character that pairs well with the cheese.