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Local farmers not sheepish about cheese

Posted: Friday, Jan 18th, 2013

Rebecca King holds a lamb at Monkeyflower Ranch in Royal Oaks on Tuesday. (Photos by Erik Chalhoub/Register-Pajaronian).

ROYAL OAKS — On a hill in Royal Oaks, a little white lamb nestles with her two siblings on a cushion of hay under the protection of mother sheep.

Born only the day before, the lamb is just one of 40 that have been born since December and who live on Monkeyflower Ranch, the home of Garden Variety Cheeses, a small farmstead business specializing in raw, sheep milk cheeses that has been regaling customers at farmers markets from Seaside to Oakland since 2009.

Owner Rebecca King found her interest in farming while she was a student at UCSC. She also worked at a goat dairy farm and held stints as a chef in San Francisco and at Gabriella’s in Santa Cruz. While working at a cheese shop in San Francisco, King discovered her love of the flavor of cheese made from sheep’s milk.

“It is nutty — buttery and sweet; it is not like goat’s cheese,” King said, which is a common misconception.

Cheese made from sheep’s milk has more of a longstanding tradition in Europe. Examples include Rocquefort from France, Greek feta and Italy’s ricotta, but it is growing in popularity in the United States, King said.

For the complete article see the 01-19-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 01-19-2013 paper.

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