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.

Better late than never! After searching in vain for one of the Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery goat cheeses (rumored to have been served at an official inaugural dinner) prior to Jan. 20, I finally got my unmanicured hands on the Moonglo cheese over the weekend. Thanks to my new friend Benjamin, fellow cheese blogger and manager of the great Cheese Shop at France 44, Twin Cities residents can get their first taste of this Illinois cheesemaker’s offerings – and if you live here, you really should.

Has this cheese passed the lips of our new president?

Has this cheese passed the lips of our new president?

Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband opened Illinois’ first farmstead cheese-making operation in 2005, raising Nubian and La Macha goats and turning their milk into fantastic goat cheeses: fresh chevres, bloomy-rind cheeses and whole-goat milk ricotta. I purchased Moonglo, an aged, raw-milk tomme-style cheese. Jarrell and Cooperband wash the rind with a “tea” they make from Moonglo pear leaves. The result? A sumptuous, creamy cheese that coats the palate nicely and offers a pleasing tang. The fragrance may be a bit too “goaty” for some, but once again, this cheese passed the toddler taste test, so you know it can’t be too goaty.

Benjamin from the Cheese Shop at France 44 recommends serving the Moonglo with a Chardonnay, and I’d add some luscious fruit to your cheese platter. Prairie Fruits Farm is also home to an orchard and berry patch, and when the summer rolls around, the Moonglo would be delightful with some fresh blackberries and peaches.

A special note for Twin Cities cheese lovers: the Cheese Shop at France 44 received a shipment of 9 lbs. of Moonglo this past Saturday. Be sure to drop by before it’s gone!