It was a typical day for me: running like mad from my day job in Southwest up to Hillcrest for a sandwich at the Little Rock temple of carnivorous delights better known as Hillcrest Artisan Meats. On this particular day, as my sandwich was being prepared, Brandon Brown handed me a small cup with a chunk of soft, white cheese at the bottom and said, "You've got to try this." The cheese was a soft goat's milk feta, and that first bite was mild, creamy, yet with an assertive taste that was quite compelling. One bite was all it took — out came my wallet to buy some of this fantastic fromage for myself.
The cheese is a newcomer to Little Rock from Northwest Arkansas-based dairy White River Creamery, a 12-acre labor of love run by Scott and Tessa McCormick in Elkins. The McCormicks have been selling their cheese all over the Northwest corner of the state since May of this year, and lucky for us, they're expanding their cheese empire into Central Arkansas. The McCormicks raise their own Nigerian Dwarf goats to produce milk for some of their cheeses, as well as sourcing local cow's milk for other varieties.
For now, the cheeses coming from White River are of the young, soft variety: ricotta, feta, neufchâtel, fromage blanc (including a chocolate version), and chèvres of both the sweet and savory variety. This will change in the near future, however, as Scott is currently working on an aging room that will allow an expansion of varieties offered by White River. For now, though, you can find their small-batch cheeses at Hillcrest Artisan Meats — although they've proven quite popular and sell out quickly.
For more about White River Creamery, check out this profile from @Urban magazine to get an idea about the lay of the land around the creamery. The picture painted is one that we've become wonderfully used to in Arkansas: people with pride in what they do producing excellent products with the best quality ingredients. It's a refrain that's becoming a motto for Arkansas food, and one that White River Creamery embraces with gusto.
White River Creamery is located at 11701 S Hwy 16 in Elkins. If you'd like to visit their facility, call ahead at 479-310-0355 and they'll be happy to set up a time for you.
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