Cheese Review- Hudson Valley Camembert

Misc. musings • 10 Jul 2008

Old Chatham 4

As much as I have unapologetically resisted a fondness for living in the Hudson Valley, my childhood dream of living on a farm has grabbed hold of my impervious soul and latched on for good. I can no longer resist the idyllic aesthetics of my surroundings. I’m hooked on local farms and their verdant, sweeping pastures. I have been romanced by the earth’s abundance and by the honest dairy.

If I can help it, I only drink Ronnybrook Farm’s milk and I love their creamy garlic infused butter, addictive yogurt, and luscious ice cream. After starting an internship at my favorite local creamery Sprout Creek Farm, I only eat local cheese (and yes, pretty much only SCF cheese….and in a somewhat unhealthy abundance!).

However, having never tried cheese from the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, I decided to branch out. After all, I am from Albany and these guys are my neighbors. Old Chatham burst onto the scene in 1994 with a small flock of sheep and went on to produce award winning sheep’s milk cheese and creamy full-fat yogurt.

Nestled in the softly undulating hills of the upper Hudson Valley, Tom and Nancy Clark, the farm’s proprietors, now house a flock of over 1000 organically-raised East Friesian crossbred sheep.


One of the few producers of sheep’s milk cheese in America, its Camembert is award-winning, a blend of their flock’s milk and from a bit of cow’s milk from neighboring Hollrock Farm in Kinderhook. At the 2001 US Cheese Championship it won the coveted Best Cheese in America prize and in both 2002 and 2006, it won World Championships in Best of Class.

In “Cheese, A Connoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Best” Max McCalman and David Gibbons state that the cheese “gives the continental double and triple crèmes a run for their money, adding an extra dimension with the inclusion of sheep’s milk.” A traditional French Camembert is made from the unpasteurized milk of Normande cattle.

The soft bloomy-rind Camembert is less mushroomy than its French counterpart, with a subtler earthy flavor. Its texture is richly buttery and sweetly creamy and the mix of sheep’s and cow’s milks yields an even, harmonious taste. The cheese is distinctly American, a neat little square packaged in breathable paper and labeled with the likeness of a sheep.

Serve this antibiotic and hormone-free cheese at room temperature and enjoy its melt-in-your-mouth goodness.

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