Wisconsin leads in the nation in cheese production, so when I was offered the chance to tour dairy farms and creameries in America’s Dairyland, I jumped at the opportunity. Sadly, the site I was freelancing for didn’t have space to use the slideshow, but they not only paid me my full fee but also said I could post the gallery of photos I compiled three years ago during the Wisconsin Cheese Tour, sponsored by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. If you think you don’t really like cheese, these pics might make you change your mind.
Beets with Crave Brothers Mascarpone
Mascarpone, a rich and sweet cheese made from cream, is traditionally used in desserts. The Crave Brothers handcraft mascarpone right on their farm in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Combining it with beets, candied walnuts, red wine and balsamic vinegar makes for a rich appetizer which not only tastes great but scores points for presentation.
Where to get it: Check out the list of retail locations.
Grand Cru Mushroom Crostini
Grand Cru Gruyère, Emmi Roth’s signature cheese, is a great topping for toasted bread. Just sauté some mushrooms, and add the smooth cheese, broiling until it melts perfectly on the crostini.
Where to get it: Check out the list of retail locations where Emmi Roth cheeses are sold. .
Roth’s Classic Fondue
You’re looking at a blend of 3 parts Grand Cru original, 3 parts Grand Cru reserve and 2 parts Italian-style Fontina, soaked in Pinot Grigio for a half hour. If that’s too time-consuming for you, you can also pour a pre-made mix into a fondue pot and heat it until it bubbles.
Where to get it: Once again, go to Roth Wisconsin’s store locator to find retail locations.
Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Marinated Fresh Mozzarella
Crave Brothers’ milk is fresh and sweet, lending itself well to mozzarella. This delicate cheese is mild, milky, fresh—and versatile. Serve it with cherry tomatoes on toast, in a salad, or in its own marinade, which is a combination of garlic, crushed pepper, olive oil, canola oil and Italian seasonings.
Where to get it: Crave Brother’s fresh mozzarella is yours for $7.00 plus shipping on their website.
Airco and Braised Ossabaw Tortellini
This delicious plate features Carr Valley Cheese’s Airco cheese, an award-winning blend of sheep, goat and cow milk that has a hint of smokiness. Created by chef Dan Fox, the dish also includes braised Ossabaw pork (a Spanish or Iberian breed of pigs, which Fox raises himself), manila clam and shaved Swabian Hall country ham is also included, along with salsify and a brown butter cherry tomato sauce with a touch of red wine vinegar.
Where to get it: Airco is sold online for $17.50 a pound.
Winter Squash Lobster Thermidor
Lobster thermidor is traditionally served in a lobster shell and often served with Gruyère, but this local and seasonal variation has its own unique flair. Chef Dan Fox added pickled butternut, wilted spinach, apple, lobster (of course), and last but not least, Carr Valley’s Creama Kasa, a soft, buttery cheese melting with flavor.
Where to get it: Creama Kasa is available online for $10.40/lb.
Pleasant Ridge Reserve
Inspired by traditional cheesemakers in the French and Swiss Alps, Uplands Cheese uses an expensive and inefficient process to create one of the most decorated American cheeses. Pleasant Ridge Reserve is made using raw milk in the months of May through October, when the cows are eating fresh pasture. If the weather isn’t perfect, they sell the milk, in order to ensure the quality of the cheese. It’s nutty and rich, with a prolonged aftertaste only found in cheese made from grassfed, unpasteurized milk.
Image courtesy of Uplands Cheese. (This was probably the best cheese I tasted, but my picture just didn’t come out well so I used theirs instead.)
Buttermilk Blue Cheese With Tart Cherry & White Tea Preserves
Roth’s Buttermilk Blue Cheese, made from raw milk of Jersey and Holstein cows, is shown here with Quince & Apple’s tart cherry and white tea preserve. The sweetness of the jam perfectly complements the creamy and decadent cheese, softening its tanginess and creating a symphony of flavors.
Where to get it: Emmi Roth Cheese’s Buttermilk Blue cheese may be available at a store near you.
Stout Brownie with Vintage Van Gogh and Salted Caramel
You wouldn’t believe it, but this delicious brownie is from a mix, except there’s Stout’s instead of water, an extra egg, and it’s baked at 250 degrees for 50 minutes. Add Roth’s Vintage Van Gogh, a creamy Gouda which works well with desserts, drizzle on some caramel sauce, and add a pinch of sea salt, and voila! It’s shown here with raspberry preserves and topped with a pretzel.
Where to get it: Emmi Roth’s Vintage Van Gogh may be available at your local grocery store or deli.
Moody Blue Flatbread with Apple Fig and Black Tea Preserves
You’re looking at the rich, creamy, and slightly nutty Moody Blue cheese served on flatbread, along with sliced apples and pears, arugula, pancetta, and Quince & Apple figs and black tea preserve.
Where to get it: You know the drill. Check out Roth Wisconsin’s store locator to see if you can snag some Moody Blue cheese at a store or deli near you.
Next up: beer and spirits.