Landmark Creamery is based in Albany, WI and is one of the featured cheesemakers in our new Quarterly Cheese Subscription. We are so excited to be working with them, and we wanted to give you a taste of their cheese and why they do what they do.
1. When did you know you wanted to commit yourself to the cheesemaking craft, professionally?
Anna Landmark fell in love with cheesemaking while milking two goats and a short-horned milking cow on her small farm in Albany, WI. Anna Thomas Bates fell in love with the artisan food world while shopping farmers markets, cooking and writing about food for local newspapers and magazines. They met at a potluck for woman farmers and became fast friends. While drinking homemade Old Fashioneds, they hatched a plan for creamy sheep milk and pasture-grazed cheeses, made from the milk from small family farms in Southern Wisconsin. They began by selling to local chefs, cheese shops and farmers markets in Madison and Milwaukee, and now sell small amounts of cheese across the country.
2. What is the story behind Tallgrass Reserve and Pecora Nocciola cheese -- the cheeses featured in our Quarterly Cheese Subscription? And what is your favorite way to enjoy them?
We first made Tallgrass Reserve as our practice cheese, while waiting for our sheep dairy to get up and running. But we discovered that when it's made with really gorgeous grass-fed milk, it is a creamy and complex cheese with a beautiful golden paste. We love it with a dry aged salami and a shot of sweet bourbon, melted onto sourdough bread with a smear of raspberry jam, or melted into some kick-ass mac and cheese.
Pecora Nocciola is an easy-to-adore cheese that pairs beautifully with so many things. We made it to really enhance the natural nutty notes inherent in sheep milk cheese. It can be grated over pasta, shaved over a fig and radicchio salad, or paired with marcona almonds, dark, smokey chocolate or with a sweet Sauternes.
4. Do you believe cheese can be sustainably made?
Artisan cheese makers talk about this all the time--how can we make cheese is delicious, honors the traditional history of cheesemaking, doesn't have a huge environmental impact and make enough money to support ourselves and hard-working, small family farms? It isn't easy! We think about the milk we use, how the animals are being treated, what they are eating. We think about water use and packaging--and we try to make the best decisions we can while being true to our values.
5. Where do you think the future of specialty cheese is headed?
Another interesting question--with the rise of mail order everything, large cheese companies buying smaller ones and retail mergers, we think about where we fit into this big picture. We continually focus on educating customers (and cheesemongers who sell or cheese) on why small-batch cheese is priced the way it is, and why it is worth it. We sell our cheese a number of different ways--direct to consumers in our shop, at farmers markets and online. We also sell direct to independent cheese shops and restaurants and also to small cheese distributors who can more efficiently get our products to markets we can't reach, like New York City and San Francisco. We hope that while people want things delivered fast and conveniently, that the interest in high-quality, delicious and well-made food and small businesses that support several families continues to rise also.
6. What is the most memorable cheese experience of your life?
I don't have a sexy story about eating some rare cheese in a castle while on an amazing European trip or anything like that. My best cheese experiences are all of the small ones that add up to why we do what we do--cheese people are the best people, and when we get together at shows and conferences and talk about what we love to do while eating and drinking delicious things, that's when I'm recharged and have the energy to keep moving forward. Also, I love bringing a few well-crafted cheeses and pairings to small gatherings. Sitting around a cheese board, nibbling and talking about everything, builds community and forges friendships, all while enjoying some really delicious food made by makers who are dedicated to what they do.