To fulfill their dream of making fresh chèvre (goat cheese), Gerald Onken and Mariann Janosko got up before the sun for five years. But they weren’t milking the herd. The husband and wife were delivering the morning paper to earn seed money for Lake Erie Creamery, Ohio’s only licensed goat-cheese producer. Located in a funky renovated factory on Fulton Road, it seems an unlikely place to churn out fabulous goat cheese, but the couple is committed to living and working in the city limits to save on travel time and environmental resources.
Each week they make more than 80 pounds of artisan-style cheese. Goats from Cherry Lane Farm in Mantua supply the milk that Onken picks up every Monday. Then they pasteurize, drain, salt and mix the cheese to a creamy, smooth texture. By Friday, it’s packaged and delivered to restaurants including Blue Point Grille, Fahrenheit, Lola and Sergio’s in University Circle.
Look for Lake Erie Creamery’s fromage blanc on the dessert menus as well. Janosko has perfected the sweeter, silkier version of chèvre just in time for berry season. On a few select menus, you’ll also find Blomma (Swedish for “flower”), the Creamery’s new bloomy rind cheese.
Michael Fiala, executive chef at the Inn at Turner’s Mill, in Hudson, likes the freshness. “It’s creamy and has just enough acidity to keep things nicely balanced,” he says. He uses it as a counterpoint to fattier foods and rich, spicy dishes such as his Goat Cheese Ravioli with Chorizo and Kale.
Originally, the couple didn’t intend to offer their cheese retail, but they caved in to growing demand. You can find it at Annemarie’s Dairy at the West Side Market, Duet in Rocky River, Rego’s Lake Road Market, Great Lakes Baking Co. in Hudson and The Baricelli Inn. Currently, the cheesemakers do not allow on-site sales or creamery visits.