Anna Thomas Bates (in blue) and Anna Landmark take a selfie with their
first winning ribbon at the 2016 American Cheese Society Competition. The
duo went on to win three awards for their cheeses at the prestigious event.
Photo by Uriah Carpenter
Watch out, world. For just the second time in the 100-year history of Green County Cheese Days, a woman cheesemaker will sample and sell her cheese inside the event’s iconic cheese tent on the downtown Monroe historic city square.
With more than a dozen cheese factories in Green County, the massive cheese tent at Cheese Days has been dominated by male cheesemakers for years. Only Julie Hook, co-owner of Hook’s Cheese in Mineral Point in Iowa County, has been able to break the glass vat in the past 20 years and sell cheese inside the Green County tent. And no wonder: America’s Dairyland is full of third and fourth generation cheesemakers, as fathers traditionally pass down their craft to sons.
But starting Friday, Wisconsin cheesemaker Anna Landmark and business partner Anna Thomas Bates will set up a table to sample and sell a half dozen of their different artisan cow, sheep and goat cheeses they make at area cheese factories during off-hours. The pair do not have their own plant, and instead rent space at Thuli Family Creamery in Darlington to make their cheese.
|Perhaps the first selfie EVER. Taken by Thelma & Louise, one of my all-time favorite movies.
(It doesn’t hurt that a college boyfriend once told me I looked like Geena Davis. Sigh. If only).
“All the cheesemakers have been so welcoming to us, and we’re very honored to be invited to participate in the cheese tent,” Anna Landmark says. “We’re planning on introducing lots of folks to artisan sheep and goat cheeses.”
The Annas, as they are affectionately known in the industry, have been making cheese since 2013. They purchase sheep milk from a partner dairy in Rewey, cow milk from a grazier near Belleville, and goat milk from a neighboring farm. They are perhaps best known for their award-winning Petit Nuage, a fresh sheep’s milk button cheese, and Anabasque, a natural rinded, hard sheep’s milk cheese that rivals the Franco-Basque cheese on which it is based.
Some of the cheeses Landmark Creamery will be sampling and selling this weekend at Green County Cheese Days include:
|The Annas at a Milwaukee dinner last year celebrating
a successful year of making artisan cheese.
- Samwell, an earthy, cave-aged sheep cheddar, as well as a non cave-aged version
- Anabasque, inspired by Ossau Iraty from the Basque region of France
- Pecora Nocciola (a cave-aged version), perfect for grating or shredding on pasta
- Pipit, a smooth and creamy sheep cheese, made for melting or slicing for sandwiches
- Petit Nuage, a fresh, French-style soft sheep milk cheese, made weekly
- A new raw milk Spanish goat cheese, cave aged, and yet to be named (they’re looking for ideas)
- Chèvre: the original fresh goat cheese, with versions flavored with savory spice, thyme, black pepper, lemon peel, sumac and chili flake
- A goat version of their ACS award winner Summer Babe, flavored with orange peel, lavender and honey.
Cheese Tent hours at Green County Cheese Days start on Friday, Sept. 16 from 9 am to 8 pm, continue Saturday from 9 am to 8 pm and conclude on Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm. You’ll find Uriah and me helping out the Annas at their table Saturday morning. (Please stop by and say hi!)
Cheese Days itself runs from Friday through Sunday this weekend and includes a myriad of events all three days, including a main stage and several side stages featuring yodeling, alphorns, polka bands and Swiss heritage music. There’s also a cow milking contest, numerous food stands, and deep-fried cheese curds that are completely worth waiting in line for an hour or more.
On Saturday from noon to 4 pm, don’t miss the cheesemaking demonstration right on the square, where veteran cheesemakers craft a 200-pound wheel of Swiss the old fashioned way in a giant copper kettle. Green County cheesemakers take turns at the microphone, and the public is invited to help stir the curd with an old fashioned “Swiss harp.” After the cheese is hooped, Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers Gary Grossen and Jeff Wideman plug a block of cheese and demonstrate the grading and judging process using the criteria of the U.S. and World Championship Cheese Competitions.
Then on Sunday, come for the grand poobah of all parades, starting at 12:30 pm, and led by a procession of Brown Swiss cows and their Green County dairy farm family owners in full Swiss traditional clothing. The two-hour parade features 11 different divisions of bands, floats, dairy queens, horse-pulled wagons, trucks full of past and present cheesemakers, as well as the Limburger Queen, Stephanie Klett (whose day job is the Wisconsin Secretary of Tourism). Everyone should experience the Green County Cheese Days parade at least once in their lifetimes.
More importantly, come for a weekend of good cheese made by award-winning cheesemakers, and be sure to take a wedge or two home with you!
|Uriah and I helped cut and wrapped 546 pieces of Landmark Creamery’s Samwell, a cave-aged sheep milk cheddar, for Green County Cheese Days. Make sure you buy a wedge at the cheese tent in Monroe this weekend!
Photo by Jeanne Carpenter