Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rancho Santa Marina

Have you ever eaten organic sheep cheese? Well, not only have I eaten some but I've seen the Rancho where it was made. This week the Down to Earth Garden Club toured Rancho Santa Marina which is off of the Queretaro-Mexico City tollway and about an hour from San Miguel.

The Rancho is in beautiful country. When we arrived we were greeted by the dogs who ambled out and through the fence to check us out and to get some head scratching and pats on the back. When we entered the Rancho we all walked through a chemical shoe bath to protect the sheep from any diseases being brought onto the property.

There are about 350 sheep and the Rancho is carefully divided into a variety of alfalfa fields and holding pens to facilitate the movement of the sheep from one pasture to another and from pasture to the milking shed. They are moved from field to field to eat so that the alfalfa and grasses have time to rejuvenate. The only fertilizer is what is left by the sheep. They do not use hormones or other chemicals to promote the production of milk and they have a full time veterinarian on site. The breeding program is carefully controlled. As we heard about the way the Rancho is run I kept thinking of the sustainable farms in the book the Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. The cheese is aged for about three months in a "cave." Most Mexican cheeses are soft or semi-soft but this is a harder, drier cheese and has some similarities in taste to a Parmesan cheese. It is delicious. I haven't looked for it yet in San Miguel because I bought some of the cheese at the Rancho but Queso Luna on Ancha de San Antonio is suppose to have Rancho Santa Marina queso de oveja. I think it would be a great pairing with membrillo or quince paste as an appetizer. I also think you could substitute it in pasta dishes for Parmesan cheese.

5 comments:

Don Cuevas said...

I just met the cheese producers while attending the Gourmet Show at the World Trade Center in México, DF this weekend.

I sampled several of their remarkable products and look forward to spending more time with them when the come to Morelia next month for a Feria de Quesos.

Saludos,
Don Cuevas

Don Cuevas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Billie said...

Don, it is really good cheese, isn't it. Glad to know that they are still producing their excellent cheeses.

I was so surprised when your comment popped up. You forget that what you write in your blog lingers out there in cyberspace. This was written almost 4 years ago.

Don Cuevas said...

As it turned out, there was no Feria de Quesos last year in Morelia.

But we are hoping to visit Rancho Santa Marina toward the end of September, as part of a trip we are making to the state of Hidalgo.

Saludos,
Don Cuevas

Billie said...

Great. If you visit please let me know if they are still producing their very excellent cheese. I'm still in the USA but planning to return to SMA soon.