One of the singular joys of living proximate to Wisconsin is watching that dairy behemoth turn so nimbly from being the dominant force in industrial cheese into a prime incubator of innovative artisan cheeses. Sartori of Plymouth, Wisconsin, is both a major player on the commodity Italian scene and a legitimate flavor innovator — their absolutely lovely coffee-rubbed and fruit-washed BellaVitano cheeses have single-handedly done a great deal to redeem the trashy reputation of flavored cheeses.
Pastorale Cheese by Sartori
We were pleased to stumble upon Sartori Pastorale while browsing a lovely local foods store called Lanesboro Local in Lanesboro last month. The cheese is a mix of cow and sheep’s milk, presented in a style that unites the relatively dry firmness of parmesan with the calcium lactate crystals of aged cheddar. Its flavor is a roller coaster: buttery, nutty, caramel-kissed with a touch of sheepy funky and depth, contrasted by the cheese’s smoky paprika-rubbed rind.
The cheese sells for around $20 a pound (it can be bought online), and while it’s certainly not an everyday nosh, it’s a natural bright spot on any pre-dinner (or post-dinner) cheese plate.