Dining and Drink

Kickstarter campaign so close we can practically taste the artisan cheese

Landmark Creamery nears fundraising goal

The women behind Landmark Creamery are cheese maker Anna Landmark and food writer Anna Thomas Bates, who, together, make and market artisan cheese. The friends’ old-world style crafted product can be found at cheese shops and fine restaurants throughout Madison and Milwaukee and on Saturdays at Madison’s Westside Community Market.

In Landmark’s fourth year of production using cows’ and sheep milk from local Wisconsin farmers, they are ready to expand —their goal is to raise $25,000 through a Kickstarter program that ends May 11. At the time this article was published and with less than a week before the Kickstarter expires, they’re sitting at a little more than $22,000 in pledges.

Local establishments are rallying support for Landmark and Thomas Bates. Two private events are planned to assist in a very tasty way to reach the Kickstarter goal, including an offering of a Landmark Creamery cheese board paired with spring cocktails at the Robin Room, and a private pizza party at the Sun Prairie Salvatore's Tomato Pies, which will feature pies created with Landmark Creamery's cheese.

If the full amount is raised in time, the total funds will be used to purchase new equipment and to build an affinage (a modest aging space) so they can make more soft-ripened cheeses and offer varieties with bloomy rinds (think creamy, supple camembert and brie).

Thomas Bates explains that bloomy rinds need attention particularly when it comes to the right humidity, temperature and airflow. The cheese needs to be “flipped, patted and loved,” she says.

Currently, the two are aging their cheese off site. Although Landmark Creamery is not a farmstead, Thomas Bates and Landmark have a close relationship with the farmers they work with, including brothers Sam and Abe Enloe who raise sheep in Rewey, Wisconsin, Bert and Trish Parish of Belleville who have a small mixed herd of cows that give milk a rich, deep yellow color, and the owners of Uplands Cheese Co. in Dodgeville, who provide Landmark Creamery with cows’ milk. “We focus on the cheese and let the farmers focus on what they’re good at,” Thomas Bates says.

 
The award-winning cheese Petite Nuage, or “little cloud,” is a fresh sheep’s milk cheese inspired by the cheese shops of Paris. Sheep’s milk has almost twice the butterfat of cows’ and goats’ milk, and it yields a rich, luscious and naturally sweet and nutty taste. The Petite Nuage is sold in 1-ounce single servings. The size of a button, the Petite Nuage is tart, bright and aesthetically beautiful. Its beauty shines on a cheese board drizzled with a fine olive oil adorned with fresh chives and chive blossoms. In the summer, basil and edible nasturtium flowers scattered over the top make it a garden party-ready dish. This fresh cheese can also be enjoyed sweet, with grapefruit curd and an almond cookie, just as they do at Milwaukee’s Goodkind restaurant.

The Pecora Nocciola, or “nutty ewe,” is an Italian Pecorino-style firm sheep’s milk cheese with notes of brown butter and toasted nuts. A great cheese to cook with, it’s also delicious shaved into long ribbons or grated over a salad of strong greens and fresh or dried fruit. 

Another popular Landmark Creamery cheese is the Tallgrass Reserve. This one is made from pasture-grazed cows’ milk and has a natural rind. “It tastes fruity and earthy with some cheddar notes (even though it is not a cheddar cheese),” says Thomas Bates. She recommends enjoying it with a glass of Beaujolais wine, bourbon, good salami or membrillo (quince paste).

If Landmark Creamery’s Kickstarter is successful, it means more people will know about the beautiful characteristics and taste of locally made, small-batch cheese. It also means more people will know about the work of Landmark and Thomas Bates, which is done in the spirit of old-world craftsmanship that takes time, knowledge, dedication and effort. They know the farmers and what their animals are eating in order to create a rich and consistent product—one that is truly artisan.

“Wisconsin has an amazing history of cheese where, in the past 20 years, artisan cheese here is blossoming,” she says. “We’re a new generation of that—an extension. There is only a small percentage of cheese in Wisconsin that’s made from sheep’s milk.”

To pledge to the Landmark Creamery Kickstarter, click here.


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