It is rare indeed that a dog began a dairy, but that is exactly what happened in the case of Everona Dairy. At a Food Festival in 1992, the late Dr. Patricia (Pat) Elliot came upon a demonstration of the skills of Border Collies and was so impressed, she took a puppy home with her. Soon it became obvious that the dog needed something to keep occupied, and what is the best thing to keep a Border Collie occupied? Sheep. So, sheep were purchased and in time began to drain the good doctor’s bank account. In an effort to have the sheep pay for themselves, Dr. Elliot began milking them with a view to developing a cheesemaking operation.
Whereas some people might be daunted by the prospect of taking on an additional new cheesemaking career with no previous knowledge of sheep or making cheese, Dr. Elliot was undeterred. A medical doctor who had raised seven children and adopted two others, while simultaneously putting herself through medical school, she was well equipped with the determination to teach herself how to make cheese. Pat was also a life-long DIYer and, after reading books on the topic, at age 67 took classes at the University of Wisconsin to learn the scientific side of cheese making.
By 1996, she had also travelled to Greece for further education. While it took a long time to reach the skill-level necessary to produce great cheese, in 2005 the ACS awarded Everona‘s Piedmont with its top honors in the Farmhouse Sheep’s milk cheese category. Until her death in 2013 at age 85, Dr. Elliot continued to practice medicine as well as helping to run the Dairy with her son, Brian, and daughter-in-law, Carolyn.
Herbs de Provence is a twist on Everona’s signature cheese, Piedmont. This raw sheep’s milk cheese has had a mixture of 11 herbs and spices added to the curd during production. The herbs enhance the already nutty, floral and earthy paste of this 2 to 4-month old cheese with the complementary flavors of Herbs de Provence. The cheese has a light orange rind and dark ivory paste with herbs heavily sprinkled throughout.
This cheese is versatile when if comes to pairing with wine. It is delicate enough to have with dry whites, but also will work with earthy reds such as Pinot Noir. Serve Herbs de Provence with Sockeye salmon, or smoked meats. Or, it is wonderful melted over the top of roasted potatoes, especially when served with roasted chicken.