This Week at Saxelby Cheesemongers
Fall is truly here. And with it has come an onslaught of new and delightful cheeses! The two most recent additions to Saxelby Cheesemongers’ selection are Vermont Shepherd and Dancing Cow Farm, both located in that Green Mountain, cheese-laden state to the North. We have been happily noshing on their excellent cheeses, and can’t wait for you to get in on the action!
If someone could be blamed for instigating the artisan cheese shenganigans that have swept over Vermont in the past 15 years, Vermont Shepherd would be high up on the list of suspects. Back in the mid-90’s, when the idea of milking sheep was judged to be about as sane as running around naked through a briar patch, David and Cindy Major had their own ideas. They scooped up their family, went to France, and apprenticed with various cheese makers in the Pyrenees region, learning how to transform their sheeps’ milk into succulent and fantastical cheese.
Vermont Shepherd was one of the first great American farmstead cheeses, a grandaddy in the game so to speak, and we are more than proud to have it gracing the shelves of our humble little cheese cave. It is a large, UFO-shaped wheel with a rustic natural rind and a rich, smooth, ivory-colored paste. David Major got into the sheep game because he wanted to be a grass farmer (his own words, I swear!) and man, can you taste that Vermont goodness in each melt-in-your-mouth morsel of cheese. His sheep graze on the family’s ample pastures from late spring on into fall each year, keeping the land renewed and beautiful, and transforming that grass into lots of concentrated and delicious milk.
Dancing Cow, on the other hand, is a new star in the American cheese galaxy. Steve and Karen Getz, the farmers at Dancing Cow, started making cheese in November of 2005. Steve and Karen came to farming in a pretty roundabout way, like many other American farmstead cheese makers. They left their respective careers (he was in telecommunications and she was a mom with kids all grown up) and started out on a cheesy journey of their own making.
For the first year, they milked their cows and made hay, learning the ropes of dairy farming and getting attuned to the finer points of how to manage their land. The Getzes now make a little bouquet of certified organic, raw milk cheeses from their herd of 30 Jersey, Guernsey, and Dutch Belt cows. The cheese is made only when the cows are out on pasture, using the freshest milk they can muster. Most farms will store milk from multiple milkings (cows are milked twice a day) to use for cheese making. Steve and Karen make tiny batches of cheese with milk that is straight from the cow, meaning that it is handled barely at all, and is a pretty much dead-on representation of what the cows were out eating on that particular day.
Saxelby Cheesemongers is ecstatic to offer you a taste of their Bourree, a small-ish wheel of washed-rind buttery goodness, with a pungent, pliant yet firm paste. Sarabande, the other newbie from Dancing Cow is a truncated little pyramid of cheese with a vibrant orange rind dusted with little patches of downy white mold. It looks almost too good to eat… if cheese were jewelry (an odd and potentially smelly proposition) I would set it atop a gold ring and show it off all over town.
Come on in and try some for yourself! The new cheeses await!