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Frère Fumant

3 Corner Field Farm
New York
8 ins diameter, 5-6 ins high
6 lbs

Owned by Karen Weinberg and her husband Paul Borghard, 3 Corner Field Farm is a sheep dairy and cheesemaking operation located in the Battenkill Valley, near Shushan, New York.

Both formerly from Manhattan, Karen and Paul bought the farm in 1990, and now run a flock of 120 East Friesian milking sheep on the property. The sheep are rotationally grazed and moved to fresh pasture every 24 hours. Karen and Paul have worked hard to develop and manage the grazing, providing a wide variety of forage such as clovers, fescue, trefoil, wild oregano, timothy and cattails to enhance the animals' diet and improve milk quality.

In addition to cheesemaking, Karen and Paul also sell their lambs, wool and soaps at a number of Farmers Markets that they regularly attend.

During the season, which runs from April to September, the sheep are milked twice each day. Every morning, Karen combines cooled milk from the previous evening's milking with the warm, fresh milk from the morning's milking to make cheese.

Karen makes a variety of cheeses, as well as a sheep's milk yogurt. The cheeses include the camembert-style Shushan Snow, Feta, and two versions of an aged, Basque-style sheep's milk cheese called Battenkill Brebis, one of which is smoked and called Frére Fumant.

Frère Fumant is made from raw milk and modeled after another smoked sheep's milk cheese - Idiazabal. Milk is heated to 86°F and a mesophilic starter culture and traditional calf rennet are added. After the curds are formed they are placed into cloth-lined cheese molds. (The cloth leaves small indentations in the rind of the cheese, which help the desirable molds to adhere and grow on the cheese, aiding maturation.)

After pressing, the young Frère Fumant are brined for 24 hours before being taken to nearby New Skete monastery. There, Brother David cold smokes the cheeses over Hickory wood before returning them to 3 Corner Field for further maturation.

"Frère Fumant" literally means "Smoking Brother" and is named in honor of Brother David. Wheels are aged for a minumum of two months although some are held for up to 12 months prior to release.

The texture of Frère Fumant is smooth, firm and slightly moist. The interior paste is pale golden-ivory in color, while the rind is a deep red-orange color - a result of the smoke.

Flavors are sweet, herbaceous, rich and smoky - yet the smoke does not eclipse the flavor of the milk. There are savory hints of grass, clover, almonds and hay.