If you stroll along the Saratoga Farmers’ Market’s vendors on the south lawn of High Rock Park on a Saturday morning, and arrive at a display where signs in Italian label the fine cheeses, olives, and cured meats, then you’ll know you’ve arrived at Dancing Ewe Farm’s tables.
Owned by Jody Somers and his wife, Luisa Scivola-Somers, Dancing Ewe Farm offers several specialties, all bringing a bit of the Italian region of Tuscany to an appreciative upstate New York audience.
“Dancing Ewe Farm is dedicated to preserving the art and cultural traditions of producing handcrafted cheeses, cured meats and other treasured products of Tuscany,” says Luisa Scivola-Somers, who grew up there. “We continue to travel to Tuscany periodically to maintain important family relationships, and also to learn and participate in olive harvests.”
Located in Granville (Washington County) on 51 acres, Dancing Ewe Farm is home to a cross-bred flock of East Friesian Ewes and several Old Chatham Farm bred rams.
When the family of Jody Somers first purchased Dancing Ewe Farm in 2000, it was a run-down dairy farm, with neglected pastures and deteriorating buildings. At the time, Somers was pursuing a career in veterinary medicine and training sheepdogs as a hobby, but he decided to make a significant change: he moved to Tuscany to learn the tradition of making sheep’s milk cheeses. It was there he met Luisa Scivola, and the two started Dancing Ewe Farm together in 2003.
“Nowadays, Dancing Ewe Farm operates an intensive grazing program with only rich pastures and a well-planned infrastructure., and we are fortunate to have several capable contributors helping us out,” notes Jody Somers.
Every product at the farm has its roots in Tuscan traditions, explains Luisa Scivola-Somers.
“We specialize in Pecorino, which literally translates to cheese made with sheep’s milk. Our four Pecorino varieties are aged from 2 months to 2 years, and we make ricotta from the whey. We also produce a bloomy rind called Pecorino Bianco. A couple of times a year, we also make a raw cow’s milk cheese called Caciotta, which is aged for about 7-9 months.”
“Our Fig Marmalade uses a family recipe from my mother. It is a terrific condiment for our cheeses, especially our Caciotta,” she notes.
The farm also offers Italian cured meats, made from pork, including pancetta, capocollo, finocchiona, and salsiccia stagionata. The meats are handcrafted and rotate through a series of regulated aging rooms.
“Our cured olives are in the classic Tuscan style, originating from the region in southern Tuscany called the Maremma. The recipe has been passed on with the help of my family, all of whom still live in southern Tuscany. We produce this locally, using a type of olive called Leccino,” says Scivola-Somers.
While trips to Italy require lots of planning and saving, a stroll through the market and a stop with Dancing Ewe Farm will gives market shoppers the authentic flavors of Tuscany, right here at home.
The farm also hosts farm dinners and events periodically; inquire at the market if you are interested. In the meantime, Dancing Ewe recommends making this classic pasta dish from Rome.
*Ingredients can be purchased at the market
1/3 lb of pancetta* (not bacon)
1 clove of garlic*
4-5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 ½ cups peeled and diced plum tomatoes* (if you choose to use shelf-stable tomatoes instead of fresh, try a box of Pomi brand tomatoes, an Italian brand sold near canned tomatoes)
1 box of penne pasta
2 Tbsp. salt, to add the water when boiling the pasta
Pecorino Stagionato* or Riserva* for grating on top
Slice pancetta in small ¼” x ¼” x 1” strips; don’t remove much fat, as this will add great flavor.
Place garlic and olive oil in large frying pan and cook over medium-high heat. Wait 2-3 minutes to infuse oil with garlic flavor, then add pancetta.
Sauté pancetta in olive oil and garlic for about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes. When mixture begins to simmer, reduce heat to a light simmer and continue simmering for about 30 minutes, until sauce has a medium to thick consistency.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Be careful adding the salt, as the pancetta may be salty enough for your taste.
Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, cook penne according to the direction on the box, in salted water.
When pasta is finished cooking, drain (don’t rinse) and add directly to the frying pan where the tomato and pancetta sauce is resting.
Add high heat, mix everything together, and re-heat to serving temperature.
Grate some cheese (Pecorino Stagionato* or Riserva*) on top as desired.
Serves 4 people.