2018 has come to a close. The year may have treated some of us uncharitably (I myself have been sick since Christmas), but one company that’s riding the crest of a strong year is Bellwether Farms.
From a 2018 Good Food Award for the company’s Whole Milk Basket Ricotta last January to World Cheese Awards for its Ricotta, Pepato, and Blackstone cheeses this November, the family owned and operated creamery has continued to raise the bar for artisan cheesemakers and dairy providers, introducing new products and proving that, at 32-years-old, Bellwether Farms is just coming into its prime.
I recently spoke to Liam Callahan, Bellwether Farms’ Co-Owner and Cheesemaker, to learn more about the company’s 2018 and its plans for the beginning of 2019, kicked off at this year’s Winter Fancy Food Show, held 13-15 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California.
Q: What can you tell me about the experience of winning a World Cheese Award? What does it mean for Bellwether Farms to be acknowledged in this way?
Liam Callahan: Winning the World Cheese Award is a great honor. There are more amazing cheeses available now than ever before. The fact that our cheeses continue to be recognized as being among the best speaks to the quality of our methods and the commitment of our team.
Q: What make Bellwether Farms' Pepato, Basket Ricotta, and Blackstone such deserving recipients of World Cheese Awards?
LC: Our cheeses are deserving of the awards first and foremost because they are delicious. However, each of these three combine 'old world' traditions with 'new world' creativity.
The Basket Ricotta is made in small kettles with 100 percent whole Jersey cow milk—the milk is first cultured for flavor, and once the ricotta forms, it is hand-ladled into baskets for the best texture.
The Pepato originally took its inspiration from a trip to Tuscany the Callahan family took in 1992. Its recipe has evolved to include less acid development and a period of washing the rind to give it a smoother body and sweeter flavor.
The Blackstone combines Jersey cow milk and sheep milk in the vat. During aging the wheels undergo a three step process to apply our mixture of pepper, rosemary, and ash to produce a visually stunning cheese with a savory rind.
Bellwether Farms is still family owned and operated. All of our recipes are the result of our excitement to learn more about making cheeses that are both delicious and unique. We have been so fortunate to find our amazing customers who have supported us over the years.
The U.S. artisan dairy industry has grown up in many ways since Bellwether Farms began producing cheese in 1990. There has been consolidation with key customers in distribution and at retail, but also among the manufacturers themselves. We sincerely hope people appreciate that there are still family run creameries working to produce amazing products that we can proud of.
Q: Does Bellwether Farms have any big plans for Winter Fancy Food Show in January?
LC: At the Winter Fancy Food Show we will be sampling many of our award winning products including Ricotta and Creme Fraiche as well as giving away cups of both our Sheep milk and Organic Jersey cow milk yogurts.
For more dairy, deli, bakery, and specialty food news, keep reading Deli Market News.