Australia's most promising new dairy isn't sheepish about ewe's milk.
WHO Michael and Cressida McNamara are the sheep-whispering duo behind Pecora Dairy in Robertson, in the green heart of the New South Wales Southern Highlands.
WHAT Pecora's range spans pot-set yoghurt, fresh curds, mould-ripened and ash-dusted bloomy rind cheeses, a blue cheese and a semi-hard Basque-inspired number.
HOW The dairy's East Friesian ewes (one of the world's highest milk-producing breed of sheep) work year round, with the exception of six weeks in winter. While the principle is essentially the same as working with cow's milk, Cressida says, sheep's milk produces around twice as much cheese per litre. "We need to use much less rennet and be conscious of how fast the cultures work."
WHY The McNamaras pride themselves on being able to milk their ewes just metres from where their cheese is made, allowing them to "work with and adjust to the seasons". Pecora appeared on the radar of cheese-lovers in 2011, when the smoky Jamberoo Mountain Blue won the gold medal at the 2011 Royal Cheese & Dairy Produce Show. The range's current frontrunner is the Bloomy, a soft, white-mould ripened cheese with a crème fraîche texture and a tinge of citrus. "Australians still love soft cheese," says Cressida. "On the surface, sheep's milk is creamy and clean."
WHERE Keep an eye out for Pecora Dairy at a range of specialty stores and produce markets (Eveleigh, Northside and Kiama, for example) throughout New South Wales. Pecora Dairy, Robertson, NSW, (02) 4885 2606