Producer: Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Co-Op
Milk: Pasteurized sheep's milk
Age: 6-12 months
Style: Firm (Manchego/Pecorino style)
Vegetarian: Microbial rennet
Dante is made daily during spring and summer at Cedar Grove Creamery in Plain, Wisconsin from the milk of herds of East Friesian and Lacaune sheep who graze on fresh pasture and without the use of production hormones. Upon arrival to the facility, the milk is gently pasteurized and microbial rennet and cultures are added to coagulate the milk. The curd mass is then cut into small curds, heated and salted to expel more whey, then pressed before being sent to the aging rooms. These processes and aging techniques all combine to produce a very firm cheese with a bright nutty/fruity flavor profile that highlights the fresh Wisconsin pasture. I think it also tastes like a buttery baked potato with salt & pepper.
Think of Dante as the American version of Manchego or a Pecorino Sardo. Grate it over pasta, melt it on pizza, or just eat it; I've done it all! Try it with a big red wine, think Alto-Adige and Rioja. Or an American porter with a rich nuttiness and enough hop character to keep things clean. Oh yeah, don't forget the honey!
The Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Co-Op, the only sheep dairy co-op in the US and the largest in North America, is comprised of 15 family farms formed in 1996 with roots back to the mid 1980s. In total, the WSDC collects milk from around 400 ewes and makes 6 different cheeses as well as offering liquid and frozen milk sales throughout the US.
Bryan “Burnie” Bland is a rockstar cheesemonger and potato chip enthusiast.