Farmer’s Market season may be winding down here in pre-winter Wisconsin, but our cheesemakers never stop creating new cheeses or finding innovative marketing strategies. A stroll through the Dane County Farmer’s Market in Madison on Saturday resulted in the following discoveries:
1. Bleu Mont Dairy “Cheese du Jour” — I’d provide a photo of this lovely little hunk of golden bliss, but my family consumed it within an hour of it hitting my kitchen counter. Cheesemaker Willi Lehner is a marketing genius. He apparently has a few wheels left of a Havarti-style cheese he made 2-1/2 years ago with milk from Uplands Cheese (the same milk used in the revered Pleasant Ridge Reserve), so he cut it up and is marketing it as his Raw & Unplugged Cheese of the Day. There should still be some left next week. I am not exaggerating when I say it’s worth driving to Madison alone just to eat Willi’s cheeses.
2. Fantome Farm “Moreso” — Anne Topham, whose name I can never include without the accompanying my proclaimed title of “The Grand Matriarch of Wisconsin Goat Cheese”, is still cranking out new stuff. Despite a tough year that included knee replacements and the usual bouts of fighting Wisconsin weather, Anne is a mainstay a the Saturday market. I picked up a lovely little disk of her Moreso, a fresh goat cheese rolled in ash. For a brief glimpse of the tranquility of Anne’s farm and the milking of her goats, go here (video courtesy of Kate Arding, Culture Magazine).
3. Capri Cheesery “Celestesan” — cheesemaker Felix Thalhammer (or as I often refer to him when describing to out-of-towners: “you know, that goat cheesemaker on the square – the short, Swiss quirky dude”) has come up with yet another new creation. It’s named after his daughter, Celeste, and is a Parmesan-style cheese with slight smoky notes. It is shredded, vacuum sealed, and then sold as a cooking cheese. Great on a burger or a fondue.
4. Hook’s Cheese “Little Boy Blue” — I’ve written about this cheese in its development stage, but this is the first time I actually got to see it and taste it. Oh. My. God. Amazing. To recap, this is the partnership between the Hook’s and Brenda Jensen at Hidden Springs Creamery. It’s a sheep’s milk blue, crafted by Tony & Julie at their plant in Mineral Point. Afterward, the wheels are split up between both parties. Brenda ages her wheels in her farm cave near Westby and sells it a bit younger as “Bohemian Blue.” Tony & Julie age their wheels in their cellars in Mineral Point, age it a bit longer (the piece I had was made in May) and sell as Little Boy Blue. They are two, very distinctively different cheeses and both amazing in their own ways. Highly recommended.
P.S. for an entertaining and highly-expletive-laden review titled: “10 Things I Love About Madison”, including a spot-on review of the farmer’s market, check out Salon.com’s entry from Sept 6. (I totally stole their photo – thanks, Jessabelle!)