Love Tree Farmstead

At the St. Paul Farmers Market yesterday I chatted with the folks from Love Tree Farm. Ever since Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl's piece last year about Love Tree Farmstead in Mpls/St. Paul I cannot walk past the cheese vendor without deeply inhaling and longing for my own lambs to milk and a Livestock Guardian Dog to watch over them. Love Tree Farm cheese is so good that it transports me to that bucolic state of mind where someone else does the hard work and I spend my timing petting sheep. For about $10 I bring home enough cheese to keep that mood all week long.

I tasted the juniper-flavored sheep cheese and was delighted to hear the Love Tree take on martinis. "Soak olives in vodka then stuff them with this cheese. They make great martini olives." I tucked the precious bundle of cheese into my bag and could hardly wait for Saturday evening's happy hour.

Weather predicts my tipple of choice. Summer is chilled white wine and cold ales. Winter brings smooth heavy reds that turn my cheeks pink and fancy drinks in pretty glasses meant to be sipped while the snow piles up outside. During the warm months I reach for vodka martinis, and once the weather turns I pull out the gin. And regardless of the temps, it surprises no one that my martinis are always dirty. Here is my version of Love Tree's martini.

Love Tree's Dirty Martini
2 servings

For the olives:
4 to 6 large green olives, cured and pitted
3 to 4 tablespoons juice from olives
1/4 cup vodka
2 tablespoons Love Tree Farmstead juniper-flavored cheese (or a peppered chèvre)

In small container cover olives with olive juice and vodka and marinate at least 4 hours. Drain and pat dry with paper towel, then fill the middle of each olive with the cheese. 

For the martinis:
5 ounces Bombay Sapphire gin
1 ounce dry vermouth
1 ounce olive juice/vodka from marinated olives

Shake gin, vermouth, and olive juice/vodka with ice and strain into martini glasses; garnish with olives.


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