At the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival I set the cheese down just for a moment to test my new Flip recorder on a willing subject, Steve Getz of Dancing Cow Farmstead Cheese. He credited his wife Mary with the decision to make this particular award-winning batch of Menuet during a particularly lush few days on the couple’s farm, but she demurred to Steve to take the lead on camera.

As Steve explains, Menuet was Dancing Cow’s first cheese and has been somewhat overlooked in favor of their more well-known washed-rind Bourrée, which also ages at the Cellars at Jasper Hill. But here’s the story of Menuet, third-place finisher in the open category, cow’s milk, at the 2009 American Cheese Society awards:

Steve Getz chats about Dancing Cow Menuet from Colleen Levine on Vimeo.

Dancing Cow Farm is located in the Champlain Valley, and comprised of organically-maintained pasture on which their happy Jersey and Guernsey (and a few other breeds in the mix) dairy cows feed. Their newest cheese, Sarabande, is exquisite — a silky, pungent, washed-rind cheese made in a triangular Valencay mold (shh, don’t tell the French cheese enforcers!). In fact, the name comes from a forbidden Spanish dance. As with all Dancing Cow’s cheeses, it is made from fresh, uncooled raw milk of a single milking. You can taste the care and love in each of their cheeses, and I encourage you to seek them out at your local cheese shop.

P.S. I noticed Cheesetique has Bourée in stock right now, for all you DC/VA cheese fans.

Our tour of “blue state” Inaugural cheeses has plenty of fodder in the New England states, and Vermont’s Jasper Hill Farm appears four times on the Wine Spectator list. Today’s cheese, Winnimere, is a washed-rind stinky cheese whose funky outer appearance may intimidate the uninitiated. The pink crusted round is wrapped in dark spruce bark, which imparts a woodsy flavor. Inside the salty crust, the cheese is creamy, yeasty and tangy with a subtle fruity sweetness from the raspberry lambic-style beer the cheese is rinsed in. In keeping with their strict pursuit of quality, the spruce bark and beer are obtained from Jasper Hill’s own trees and yeasts. 

I enjoyed the Winnimere paired with Allagash White Ale from Maine and Fox Run‘s Riesling from New York’s Finger Lakes region.

You could also try it with a Dogfish Head Midas Touch from the Vice President-elect’s home state of Delaware. 

Winnimere is only available November to April, and I found it in stock at the District’s Cowgirl Creamery.

To learn more about washed-rind cheeses, read this week’s Cheesemonger column at The Kitchn. And tune in tomorrow when our Inaugural cheese tour heads West!