It’s tempting to call this a cheesy story, but it’s not.
It’s a story about cheese.
Or, more precisely, about a woman who makes cheese. And who does so in the center of Sandy Springs, a town that in recent years hasn’t been known widely for its production of farm products.
That didn’t stop Robin Schick from setting up her cheese-making shop in the center of town.
“Today is Camembert Day,” Schick says by way of greeting as a visitor enters her little shop on Hilderbrand Drive.
She means this is a day she is making her camembert, one of several types she makes at CalyRoad Creamery. “We call days we make cheese ‘make days.’ This is a ‘make room.’”
Soon-to-be-camembert fills plastic forms so it can settle into the familiar, round shape cheese buyers find at the cheese counter. Schick, wearing a work apron over her clothes and a bright red bandana over her hair, moves to another part of her work area to package portions of goat cheese for sale.
“This is just plain chevre, plain goat cheese,” she said, carefully scooping balls of cheese from a large container, then weighing and putting them in small containers for sale at local farmers’ markets. “It is very simple.”
Schick, who’s 52, lives in Dunwoody. When she was younger, she worked as a flight attendant, then spent years as a stay-at-home mom. When her children grew to teenagers, she and her older sister, Cathy, talked about going into business together. They considered opening a chocolate shop.
The sisters grew up in Mount Airy, N.C., the middle kids in a large family, Robin Schick said. Cathy had a pet goat, so they considered the idea of making cheese from goats’ milk. “It really did start with that doe,” she said.
It seemed a natural fit. After all, they had grown up with a love of French cheeses, Robin Schick said, because her mother had a pen pal in France who brought the family cheeses and herbs. So they studied cheese making, consulting experts in Georgia and Vermont. “We did a lot of research,” she said. “We spent some time in North Carolina at a goat farm and learned how to make chevre there. I just really fell in love.”
Soon CalyRoad was formed. That isn’t a real place, by the way. It’s a combination of the sisters’ names: Cathy Lynne and Robin Adair. They set up shop in Roopville, in west Georgia, where they thought they could find a steady of supply of goats’ milk. That didn’t work out, Robin Schick said, so last August she relocated the creamery to Sandy Springs to be near her home.
“Why make cheese?” she asked. “It is an interesting profession, if you love to make things. Milk is the most magical ingredient. We have milk cultures and enzymes and playing with the type of culture, the heat, the way you treat it after you’ve made the curd, is just amazing to me. It’s magical.
“It’s got a history, it tastes good and it’s fun.”
But in these days when pricey “artisanal” cheeses show up in restaurants and groceries and brag on their farm-bred connections, isn’t it a bit off-the-beaten path to make cheese in the city, instead of a place close to the cows and goats that provide the milk?
“You know, in France,” she said, “it’s very typical for you to see someone who makes cheese who doesn’t make the milk. I think we’re just doing what they do in France.”
And there’s nothing cheesy about that.
Know an interesting person or place in our communities? Email Joe Earle at firstname.lastname@example.org.