The Cheesemonger: Dancing Cow Sarabande

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One of the biggest differences between wine and cheese is that you should never judge a wine by its cover. In fact, I'd even wager that the attractiveness of a wine label is often inversely proportionate to the quality of what's inside.

Cheese, on the other hand, rightly warrants aesthetic judgment. If you see a cool looking cheese, chances are good that it will please your taste buds, too. Such is the case with Sarabande, from Dancing Cow farm in Bridport, Vermont, a washed-rind pyramid made with "raw milk from happy grass-fed cows," according to the cheesemakers.

I've never seen a cheese quite like it; washed-rind varieties tend to come in circular wheels in various sizes, or in the case of Ardrahan, Taleggio or Meadowcreek Dairy's Grayson, in a large, 3 pound square. Pyramidal forms get their origin from fresh goat cheeses from the Loire valley like Valencay or Pouligny St. Pierre. Leave it to American cheesemakers to riff on a classic.

Cutting into the center reveals a peach-colored paste, evidence of the high butterfat content of the milk and its subsequent flavor-packed taste profile. The texture is smooth, almost velvety, and lingers like butter on the tongue. The cheese is briny, with a mild meatiness reminiscent of prosciutto and other salty cured meats. Also peculiar is a note of pine trees, which may come from the pleasantly biting rind.

Pair this American beauty with a sweeter Riesling and/or candied nuts.

You can find Dancing Cow's Sarabande at Saxelby Cheesemongers for $13.99 each