Abbaye de Belloc, a not-so-sheepish sheep's cheese

Sheep's milk cheese opens the door to a whole new world of cheese. And you don't need to go to a ewe-niversity to become an expert. Your taste buds will teach you almost everything you need to know. Nevertheless, here is a quick breakdown of what makes sheep's milk cheese so unique and so spectacularly good. Sheep's milk has twice the amount of fat than cow's milk and 75% more protein. It's also higher in minerals and vitamins. Even though one ewe will produce only 1-2 quarts per day (compared to upwards of 15 quarts for a dairy cow), ewe's milk has a higher yield when making cheese. (Which is a good thing, because it takes a lot of milk to make a little cheese!)

Europe, particularly in the Mediterranean region, boasts several different types of sheep's cheese. Some examples are: pecorino, manchego, feta, roquefort... sound familiar? We carry all of these, as well as a great local cheese from Black Sheep Creamery in Chehalis, WA called "Mopsy's Best". Some swear by the flavor combination of olives and sheep's cheese. The sharpness of marinated olives balance well with nutty, buttery sheep's cheese. Plus, the image of sheep frolicking through olive groves in Spain is quite palatable.

A personal favorite in our sheep's cheese collection is Abbaye de Belloc. This cheese is made by the Benedictine monks at the Abbaye de Notre Dame de Belloc in the western Pyrenees. The milk is sourced from neighboring farms that milk a breed of red-nosed Manech ewes. The rind is coated with sweet paprika that accents the brown and grey molds. After production, wheels of Abbaye de Belloc are aged 4-10 months before being sold or shipped.

Flavor profiles: sweet, mild, nutty, caramel, buttery

Another reason why I love this sheep's cheese? It's called A-bahh de Bahh-loc. Pure sheep.