Produced at Lovetree Farmstead Cheese in the far northwest reaches of Wisconsin, near Grantsburg, Trade Lake Cedar is made from raw sheep's milk by Mary & Dave Falk.
The farm comprises about 200 acres that are managed organically. Of this, 130 acres are allocated as pasture for their flock of Trade Lake sheep, while the remainder is devoted to wildlife habitat.
Mary and Dave have worked tirelessly over the past decade to develop the Trade Lake breed of dairy sheep, that they consider particularly suited to the harsh climate of the region. In addition, the capacity of the Trade Lake Sheep to convert the abundant grasses of the area to milk is a great advantage.
Cheeses are named after one of the several lakes surrounding the farm, Trade Lake Cedar being one example. After production, cheeses are transferred to an underground cave designed along the lines of a silo (silo construction was Dave's former profession) where they are matured on cedar boards. In the case of Trade Lake Cedar, additional cedar boughs are placed on top of the cheeses to impart added flavor.
During production, the curd is formed and pressed in a colander that gives Trade Lake Cedar its distinctive, flying saucer shape. Wheels are rustic in appearance, with a natural, brown-colored rind overlaid with patches of white and grey mold. The interior paste is ivory-white in color, becoming darker as the wheels mature.
The paste is firm and punctuated with small holes or "eyes," giving the cheese an open texture.
Aromas and flavors are robust and can be assertive, varying with the seasons and the pasture the sheep have been grazing on. Notes of grass, hay, pepper, allspice and clover are accompanied by the deeper flavors of cedar wood.
Trade Lake Cedar pairs well with sparkling wines or crisp whites.