There’s nothing I love quite as much as cheesecake. Rich, creamy, and oh-so-satisfying, this dessert has a special place in my heart. I had the honor to speak to Walter Nicolau III about Nicolau Farms’ latest cheesecake program, and what makes this family-owned company stand apart.
The Nicolau family has been dairy farming in Stanislaus County since the early 1900s, when Jose Nicolau left the small island of Flores in the Azores to seek a better life. With him, he brought a passion for family, farming, and food, values that would extend over a century later to his great grandson, Walter.
“It takes quality milk to make quality cheese. But at Nicolau Farms we take it one step further, because we also feel that it takes quality grass to make quality milk,” Walter began. “Nestled on some of the most fertile land in the world, Nicolau Farms is blessed to produce high-quality grass hay in these bountiful California fields for our livestock to enjoy.”
Happy goats come from California, as well, Walter shared with me, explaining that every day fresh, high-quality milk is harvested at Nicolau Farms, triple-filtered, and then chilled to 38° F where it awaits the cheesemaking process.
Already a successful goat-cheese company, I asked Walter what inspired Nicolau Farms to begin the cheesecake line.
“We have produced and sold the mixed-milk cheesecakes for many years at the farm and at farmers markets. They were created as a way to stretch valuable winter goat milk into a value-added product on our farmers' market table,” Walter said. “We decided to share this little farm secret with everyone who enjoys Nicolau Farms products. There will also be two flavors added to the Classic Cheesecake. We found a local partner, Z Specialty Food in Woodland, CA, who produces wonderful honey and honey fruit spreads. We will add their Honey Tart Cherry and Honey Apricot fruit spreads to the bottom of two of the cheesecakes.”
As if that all wasn’t exciting enough, the entire line is gluten-free! Walter also noted that with the 5 oz resealable packaging, the product can be eaten single-serve style, or inverted onto a plate for a stunning artisan dessert presentation for both home consumers and chefs.
“The line was first introduced at this year’s Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, and the response was outstanding. Being front and center of our booth, this product turned out to be the main attraction for Nicolau Farms,” Walter told me. “People who claim they don't eat goat cheese, gluten- and grain-free folks, and those looking for new and alternative dessert ideas, they were all magnetized to these new cheesecakes. Specialty bakery buyers and broad-minded cheese mongers were trying to place orders for this product—which is not even available!”
The product launched in late spring of 2019, so I asked Walter one final question about what makes this cheesecake stand apart from other similar products.
“In researching, there is really no other product to compare it to. It is really unique in that it contains both cow and goat milk. Both cheeses are made here on the farm and are free of additives and preservatives. It is also egg-free in addition to being gluten-free, which makes for a much lighter and creamier cheesecake. With the honey fruit additions, it leaves you wanting to have just one more bite until the entire container is gone,” he concluded.
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