Landmark Creamery: Cheese With Heart

Headshot1 03.2012

Five years ago, Anna Landmark sent me a letter, applying for a $2,500 Beginning Cheesemaker Scholarship through my organization, Wisconsin Cheese Originals. Dated January 29, 2012, she thanked me for considering her application, which listed her current position as a policy research director for a non-profit advocacy organization, along with past jobs in communications consulting, political campaign management and community organization.

I thought to myself: why on earth does this woman want to be a cheesemaker?

And then I turned the page. It read:

“My first recollection of eating cheese is at my grandparent’s dairy farm in Mount Horeb. They always had a large block of Swiss cheese sitting under a glass dome on the kitchen table. It would be brought out for breakfast in the morning and generally left on the table until the end of the day when it was wrapped up and put into the refrigerator. My grandfather was a stout Swiss farmer, his grandfather one of the original settlers of New Glarus, and milk, cheese and butter were staples. Swiss cheese with breakfast, with dinner, and with supper. Sometimes aged and sharp as can be, sometimes Baby with a mild bit and perfect elasticity. I loved it all.”

Heart. The girl had heart. Her application would go on to say she had started taking cheesemaking courses at UW-Madison, that she and her husband had bought a small farm near Albany, and that her grandfather was enjoying watching her return to the cheese world. But the sentence that sealed the deal was: “My grandfather is still skeptical anyone on a small scale can really make a living doing it. But I want to find out: can I build a successful business making sheep milk cheeses?”

Needless to say, Anna Landmark won that year’s scholarship, went on to earn her cheesemaker’s license, and today owns and operates Landmark Creamery with business partner Anna Thomas Bates. She crafts seasonal sheep, cow and mixed milk cheeses, renting space at Cedar Grove in Plain and Thuli Family Creamery in Darlington. At both the 2017 and 2015 U.S. Championship Cheese Contests, her fresh sheep’s milk cheese, Petit Nuage, won a Gold Medal, and she continually wins awards for her cheeses each year at the American Cheese Society competition.

Today, readers of Cheese Underground, you have a chance to help the dynamic Anna duo complete their dreams. That’s because Landmark Creamery is nearing the end of a Kickstarter campaign, where it is seeking $25,000 in seed money to build a cheese aging space and to purchase more efficient equipment, allowing the Annas to create new cheeses and buy more milk from Wisconsin family farms. With just five days to go, they are only $4,000 short of their goal.

And, while the past five years have witnessed the birth and early success of Landmark Creamery, with your help, dear readers, it can go even further. Here is Anna’s statement from 2012, describing her business 10 years in the future:

“In 2022, I hope to have nine years of making and selling sheep milk cheeses under my belt, and to be anticipating enrolling in the UW’s Master Cheese Making program. My goal is to have my own cheese plant, growing to produce 100,000 pounds of cheese per year, with distribution regionally and to the elite markets on the coasts. I feel so inspired when making cheese. I hope my business will be a credit to the dairy industry in Wisconsin, and that my cheeses will be delicious and unique enough to become Wisconsin Originals.”

Mission accomplished, my dear. Now let’s help you write the next chapter. Your grandpa would be proud.

Donate here.

When Cheesetopia Sells Out Quickly: Avoiding Hate Mail

So if you’ve tried to purchase tickets to Cheesetopia lately, you’re well aware the event sells out quickly every year. This year was an all-time record – Cheesetopia Minneapolis sold out in seven hours. Yeehaw!

Of course, successful events are amazing, but the resulting hate emails, voicemails, texts and actual postage-stamped letters from people complaining they didn’t get tickets is a little depressing. 

That’s why this morning, I posted on Facebook an opportunity for folks to win tickets to Cheesetopia. Every day between now and April 3, all you have to do is visit the Cheesetopia website, review the amazing list of 45 artisan cheesemakers and food producers who are attending, and then comment on the Facebook post by telling me who you’re most looking forward to meeting, and why. In return, I promise to reply to your comment and practice my stand-up comedy skills. I’ll pick one winner every day for 11 days. It’s a win-win!

Click here to enter and comment on the newest post. If you already have tickets, or need a good smile, take a read through the comments – it’s so nice to see people looking forward to meeting their favorite cheesemakers. It’s nice to see cheese making people happy.

New Age Macaroni and Cheese

I love macaroni and cheese. I have a habit of ordering it at restaurants whenever we go out. Because as much as I love my husband, his one fault is never making mac ‘n cheese at home (and as you all know, cooking is not my thing). And although I consider myself the luckiest daughter-in-law ever (I could not ask for a better mother-in-law) her one mistake was making Kraft Dinner during my husband’s childhood but adding no butter and using skim milk. The result is that she scarred her son against macaroni and cheese for life. Sigh.

That’s why I was especially interested to read in this month’s Cook’s Illustrated (shockingly, the subscription is in my husband’s name, but I like to read it and tell him which dishes to make, which as you can imagine, he just loves) about the easiest-ever macaroni and cheese. Reading the headline, I thought: “Finally – I should be able to make this at home.” And then I hit the words: sodium citrate, and went: “Crap. Never mind.” Because who has sodium citrate laying around? Uh, no one.

And then I googled sodium citrate and found it on Amazon (of course) for the low low price of $15 for a 16-ounce jar. Whoo-hoo. Back in business.

In case you’re not familiar with how sodium citrate can change your life, let me fill you in. Sodium citrate is an additive that’s used as an emulsifier in lots of foods, including jam, ice cream and candy. If you’ve ever made homemade mac ‘n cheese, you know that using an aged cheddar or any aged cheese often results in a greasy, lumpy mess, even if you go to all the work of making a Bechamel sauce first and then fold in the shredded, aged cheese.

It turns out that you can skip the Bechamel if you dissolve a tiny bit of sodium citrate in water, bring it to a simmer and then use a whisk (or immersion blender if you have one) to add handfuls of shredded or crumbly aged cheese. Within five minutes, the sauce is creamy and homogeneous. And it’s fast: add some cooked macaroni and you have a delicious mac ‘n cheese in less than 10 minutes.

In its article on easiest-ever macaroni and cheese, Cook’s Illustrated also does an excellent job of explaining why aged cheeses break up when heated: “Cheese is an emulsion of fat and water bound up in a protein gel. When it’s exposed to heat, the fat liquefies. As it gets even hotter, the protein network begins to break apart, the emulsion breaks down, the fat and water begin to separate out, and the cheese begins to melt and flow. Then the protein molecules find each other again and begin to regroup, this time in clumps or strings rather than in that tidy gel formation. The result is melted cheese with a pasty, lumpy texture and pools of fat.” Yep, been there. Done that.

Cook’s Illustrated continues: “Adding sodium citrate doesn’t simply adhere to the cheese proteins, it changes them. When you add it to a cheese sauce, the calcium ions in the cheese proteins are replaced with sodium ions. This changes the structure of the protein in such a way that the protein itself becomes a stabilizing gel, holding the fat and water together so the sauce remains super smooth.”

The article goes on to provide additional ways of making mac ‘n cheese without sodium citrate, including using a 1:1 ratio of American cheese to aged cheddar. It turns out that the emulsifying salts in processed cheese, when used in the correct ratio, will prevent a cheese sauce from “breaking.” This eliminates the need to make a Bechamel sauce (hallelujah) but you do need to add a bit of Dijon mustard and a small pinch of cayenne pepper to give it a kick in the flavor butt so that it’s not too bland.

I also like to also add browned panko bread crumbs to the top of my mac ‘n cheese for an interesting texture, but, let’s get real, what I like even more is skipping the entire kitchen experience and ordering mac ‘n cheese at both The Old Fashioned and at Graze, two restaurants in downtown Madison on the capital square. Both use aged cheddars with Bechamel sauces. The Old Fashioned uses cavitappi noodles, and Graze makes their own shell-shaped pasta from white flour. Both are delicious. Every time I go there, I think: “I should take a picture.” And then I eat it all.

Wisconsin Cheese Originals Announces Basque Region Cheese Tour

Exciting news, cheese friends! If you’d like to spend 10 days tasting your way through the Basque Country of France and Spain, it just so happens that I’m organizing a custom-made, 20-person tour that highlights the ancient cheese making traditions of the Basque Country in the French Pyrenees and northern Spain.

From September 21-30 this fall, we’ll visit and tour six Basque Country cheese factories, a Txakoli winery, the Asturias Coast, stay in boutique hotels and spend an entire day exploring San Sebastian, the most popular foodie city in the world. I’m excited to be your host for this tour, and am partnering with some amazing tour operators in Europe to visit off-the-beaten-path farms and creameries.

Here’s a glance at the itinerary:

Day 1 – Thursday, Sept. 21 – Arrive Biarritz, Ainhoa
Upon everyon’es arrival in Biarritz, France, we depart in our own private coach bus for the French Basque cheese country of Ossau-Iraty in the French Pyrenees. We’ll stop in the main hamlet of St. Jean Pied de Port, a delightful historic village on the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrim route. Then enjoy a cheese themed lunch and an afternoon visit to a small cheese factory producing Ossau Iraty. We’ll settle into the picture postcard little village of Ainhoa for a free evening on our own. Overnight at Hotel Ithurria in Ainhoa. Meals: LUNCH

Day 2 – Friday, Sept. 22 – Ainhoa
We start right away with a visit to a farm and French Pyrenees Basque cheesemaker of sheep’s cheese, Ardi Gasna, in the Nive valley. Ardi Gasna is a semi-hard cheese aged between four and six months. We’ll enjoy this scenic visit to the French countryside, see the farm’s animals, enjoy a fabulous tasting of all cheeses, and then spend the afternoon sightseeing to cheese shops and quaint villages. Dinner this evening is at the Michelen-starred restaurant of Hotel Ithurria and features a rustic French Basque experience. Overnight at Hotel Ithurria. Meals: BREAKFAST, DINNER

Day 3 – Saturday, Sept. 23 – Asturias
After breakfast, we’ll pick up and hit the road for Spain, crossing the border and traveling on to Asturias, known as the land of cheeses. We’ll arrive in Vidiago, a stunning Llanes province and enjoy a tasting and tour at the tiny artisan producer, Queso Vidiago Collera. These cheeses are made from cow, goat and sheep milk, and are cured and macerated in olive oil for at least 90 days before being cut into wedges. A wonderful cider house lunch will follow at Casa Poli on the coast. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the seafront and see the Bufon de Arenillas (natural sea geysers). Then travel to our Asturias hotel, which features a beautiful, cave-like spa. Overnight at Maria Manuela Hotel & Spa. Meals: BREAKFAST, LUNCH.


Day 4 – Sunday, Sept. 24 – Asturias
Engage in local culture with a visit to the delightful small country weekly market in Cangas de Onis, featuring local cheeses, foods and wares. Enjoy a walk up to the Roman bridge in Cangas. Lunch at a rustic, fun tapas restaurant, followed by a panoramic drive to Covadonga and its ethereal lakes. There is an easy and relaxed walking path along the lakes, featuring views of the Picos de Europa mountain range. You’ll have a free evening to relax or spend in the spa. Overnight at Maria Manuela Hotel & Spa. Meals: BREAKFAST, LUNCH.
  

Day 5 – Monday, Sept. 25 – Asturias
In the morning, enjoy a visit to a Gamoneu cheesemaker, a Protected Designation of Origin cheese made in Asturias. Then the rest of the afternoon is devoted to Cabrales, a Spanish blue cheese. We’ll visit the CuevaMuseo of Cabrales to get an overview of the traditions of the area, and then follow with a full Cabrales experience from pasture to plate, experiencing a family run dairy making this famous blue cheese and visit the famous Cabrales caves. We’ll stop for sightseeing in Sotres and Tielves and enjoy an afternoon panoramic drive in the absolutely gorgeous Picos de Europa mountain range. Dinner tonight is at a wonderful, quaint, local restaurant in Cangas de Onis. Overnight at Maria Manuela Hotel & Spa. Meals: BREAKFAST, DINNER.

Day 6 – Tuesday, Sept. 26 – San Antolin, Pais Vasco
Pick up and head back towards the coast of Llanes and visit an artisan cheese producer near San Antolin, a famous surfer beach. Tour and taste mixed milk cheeses. Carry on to the amusingly named hamlet of Poo. Poo de Llanes, that is, and pronounced “Po”. Stop at the gorgeous Poo beach for coffee on the terrace, overlooking the sea and enjoy free time to get in a beach walk. This afternoon, we’ll enjoy a unique Cider experience at El Romano, where on a beautiful Atlantic stretch of northern Spain, the production and consumption of cider has a history that stretches back to the first century B.C. Visit a plantation with more than 200 apple trees and learn the cider making process. Enjoy a lovely lunch. In the afternoon, carry on to Pais Vasco and enjoy coastal scenery. Overnight at Villa Soro in San Sebastian, with a free evening to explore this famous city. Meals: BREAKFAST, LUNCH.

Day 7 – Wednesday, Sept. 27 – Ordizia, San Sebastian
After breakfast, we’ll visit an open air food market in Ordizia. This bustling market is located in a handsome columned marketplace and has operated every Wednesday since Queen Juana granted permission in 1512. We’ll have an hour to immerse ourselves in local culture before leaving to enjoy a full Idiazabal cheese experience on the “Idiazabal Gaztaren Ibilbidea” (cheese route). Nestled in the valleys of the lush green mountain ranges that rise up from the Aralar and Aizkorri Natural Parks, the area of Goierri is known for its shepherding tradition that has remained largely unchanged for thousands of years. Many farmers still practice transhumance, following ancient grazing routes up the mountains with their flocks in early summer, and retreating down to the valleys in winter. Lunch will be in a cozy Basque “Caserio” farm house where roast beef is usually the star of the day, served with rich Riojan wines. The afternoon will include stops at one or two medieval hamlets for photos and exploring, and then head back to San Sebastian in early evening for free time. Overnight at Villa Soro in San Sebastian. Meals: BREAKFAST, LUNCH.

Day 8 – Thursday, Sept. 28 – San Sebastian
We’ll start off our experience in the most famous foodie city in the world with lunch at a traditional secret gastronomic society, including a visit beforehand to the local market to buy ingredients. Then our guides will give us options on exploring this fabulous city on our own for the afternoon. San Sebastian is one of Spain’s most attractive, charming and popular cities, and this sophisticated coastal gem, situated in the north of Spain, has much to offer. Lying on the coast of the Bay of Biscay, surrounded by hills, and offering a lively beach front means San Sebastian is a city that boasts a range of natural beauty. Its fabulous architecture, plazas and parks dotted throughout the city adds to its well-deserved label as the “pearl” of the North of Spain. At 7 pm, we’ll meet up as a group for a walking, eating and drinking tour of the beautiful old town of San Sebastian. Overnight at Villa Soro in San Sebastian. Meals: BREAKFAST, DINNER.

Day 9 – Friday, Sept. 29 – Hondarribia, San Sebastian
This morning, we’ll visit Talai Berri, a Txakoli winery making one of the world’s greatest novelty wines. Produced in the breathtakingly beautiful Basque coast, the Txakoli winemakers have to fight the elements to make this famous white wine to supply the restaurants of San Sebastian. Txakoli is a genuine Basque product, unique in that it is only made in three main villages, and Basque Country is literally the only place on earth where you can find it. The owner, Bixente Eiagirre Aginaga, is the 4th generation of winemakers in his family, and is the head winemaker with his daughter, Itziar, second in command. In the afternoon, our guide will take us on a walk around the charming village of Hondarribia, one of the prettiest in Northern Spain. Twisted cobblestone alleys are lined with ornate churches, shady plazas and stately manor houses with balconies overflowing with flowers. We’ll celebrate with a farewell lunch at the best seafood restaurant in Northern Spain, Elkano, with Idiazabal cheese ice cream for dessert. The last evening of the trip is on your own to relax, enjoy a drink in San Sebastian and start packing for departure. Overnight at Villa Soro in San Sebastian. Meals: BREAKFAST, LUNCH.

Day 10 – Saturday, Sept. 30 – Departure
At our preferred time, ouor coach will transfer us to Biarritz airport for the journey home.

Price: $3,995 per person, (single travelers $599 extra), includes hotel accommodations in 3- and 4-star boutique hotels, eight private cheese experiences with tastings, visits and educational presentations, a cider experience, two local farmer market visits and numerous walking tours of medieval hamlets and villages, nine full breakfasts, six lunches with wines/cider, and three dinners with wines/cider, and private transportation via coach bus while in-country. We’ll enjoy the services of a professional bilingual guide for the duration of the trip, as well as a detailed keepsake itinerary book with tour info, maps, shopping tips and more. Travelers must be 18 years of age or older.

Airfare is additional. You may reserve your spot with a $1,100 deposit by clicking here. I hope you’ll consider joining me on this trip of a lifetime! To view the full brochure, please visit my website by clicking here.

Cheesetopia Minneapolis: Advance Tickets on Sale January 17

On Sunday, April 9, more than 40 of the best artisan cheesemakers and food producers from seven states will gather in Minneapolis for my third annual Cheesetopia from Noon to 4 pm. A heads up: advance tickets are going on sale exclusively to members of Wisconsin Cheese Originals starting Tuesday, January 17 at 9 am CST.

What is Cheesetopia? Well, it’s where the best artisan and farmstead cheesemakers and food producers from around the Midwest (and beyond) sample and sell 150+ artisan cheeses and foods, attendees enjoy an open bar with free wine, beer and soda, and Fabulous Catering from Minneapolis serves amazing appetizers using local ingredients.

Tickets are $75. Only 500 tickets will be sold.

Cheesetopia 2017 is presented by Roth Cheese and Wisconsin Cheese Originals inside Aria, one of the most beautiful structures in the Minneapolis Warehouse Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. With its soaring original brick walls, cavernous ceilings and crystal chandeliers, the home to Cheesetopia 2017 combines old world elegance with new world chic. Aria is indeed the perfect backdrop to one of the largest ever gatherings of artisan cheesemakers and food producers in the United States.

All attendees will receive a complimentary insulated shopping/lunch bag for their purchases, courtesy of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and the dairy farmers of Wisconsin. Score!

In addition, this year, a very limited number of VIP tickets that include access to skyloft Balcony Lounges will be available only to members of Wisconsin Cheese Originals for $125 each. VIP Balcony Lounges offer a bird’s eye view of Cheesetopia: the perfect place to watch the action from above, get away from the crowd and enjoy a drink with friends.

This event sells out fast. If you’d like to guarantee tickets, consider supporting artisan cheesemakers by joining Wisconsin Cheese Originals for just $35 per year. Membership provides a backstage pass to tours, cheesemaker dinners, classes and events, with all membership dues supporting artisan cheesemakers through scholarships and promotional events. Join here.

Arriving the night before? Join me and the Minnesota League of Cheesemakers for a fun Curd Nerd Trivia Contest at the Renaissance Hotel Minneapolis at 7 pm on Saturday, April 8. Tickets: $25, includes snacks and beverages with cash bar. Prizes for top two teams! Tickets also go on sale January 17.

Wondering who will be sampling and selling at Cheesetopia? You can plan to meet and talk shop with the cheesemaker, producer, owner or senior representative of every company:

  • Alemar Cheese Company, Mankato, Minnesota – Cheesemaker Craig Hageman sampling Bent River Camembert, Blue Earth Brie & Good Thunder Washed Rind
  • Ames Farm Honey, Delano, Minnesota – Artisan Josh King and Owner Brian Fredericksen sampling Single Source Raw Honey
  • Baker’s Field Flour & Bread, Minneapolis, Minnesota – Owner & Head Miller Steve Horton sampling an assortment of Naturally-Leavened Breads, made with flour that is stone-milled from local, organic grains
  • Bleu Mont Dairy, Blue Mounds, Wisconsin – Cheesemaker Aaron Peper sampling Bandaged Cheddar, Big Sky Grana & Cestino Pecora
  • Burnett Dairy Cooperative, Grantsburg, Wisconsin – Kris Henning and Gloria Johnson sampling Wood River Creamery Alpha’s Morning Sun in various flavors, Burnett String Cheese in various flavors & Burnett Dairy Whips
  • Caprine Supreme, Black Creek, Wisconsin – Cheesemaker and Owners Todd & Sheryl Jaskolski sampling Goat Milk Cheese Curds, Mild Cheddar, Lavender Jack, Creamy Parm, Goat Milk Brie, Feta, Gouda & Roh Kase
  • Carr Valley Cheese, LaValle, Wisconsin – Sampling Goat Butter, Menage Butter, Spicy Beer Spread, Aged Asiago Spread, Menage, Airco, Marisa, Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar, Wildfire Blue & Sweet Vanilla Cardona
  • Caves of Faribault, Faribault, Minnesota – Cheese Plant Manager Jill Ellingson sampling St. Pete’s Select Blue Cheese, Fini Cave Aged Cheddar and Winterfest Blues & Brews Blue Cheese
  • Cedar Grove Cheese, Plain, Wisconsin – Meet Master Cheesemaker Bob Wills and sample a variety of artisan cheeses
  • Cosmic Wheel Creamery, Clear Lake, Wisconsin – Cheesemaker Rama Hoffpavir sampling Circle of the Sun, Antares & Moonglow
  • Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Waterloo, Wisconsin – Beth & Karl Crave sampling Marinated Fresh Mozzarella, Mascarpone, Farmer’s Rope String Cheese, Cheddar Cheese Curds & Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese Curds
  • Deer Creek Cheese, Sheboygan, Wisconsin – Representative Kayla Immel sampling Deer Creek 1-Year Cheddar, 3-Year Cheddar, 5-Year, Cheddar, 7-Year Cheddar, Vat 17, The Fawn, The Stag, The Rattlesnake, The Robin, The Doe, The Blue Jay & The Imperial Buck
  • Edelweiss Creamery, Monticello, Wisconsin – Master Cheesemaker Bruce Workman sampling Butterkase, Havarti, Dill Havarti & Muenster
  • Emmi Roth USA, Monroe,Wisconsin – Cheesetopia’s Marquee Sponsor sampling Prairie Sunset, Grand Cru Original, Grand Cru Reserve, Grand Cru Surchoix, Roth Private Reserve, GranQueso & Sriracha Gouda
  • Fortune Gourmet, Bensenville, Illinois – Gourmet Buyer James Croskey featuring a fun “Big Cheese Competition” with Cheddar Tasting, Guess the Weight, Cheese Identification & Guess the Retail Price
  • Hidden Springs Creamery, Westby, Wisconsin – Cheesemaker Brenda Jensen sampling fresh Driftless in various flavors, Wischago, Ocooch Mountain, Vernon County Renegade, Bohemian Blue, Bad Axe, Timber Coulee & Meadow Melody
  • Idyll Farms, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan – Cheesemaker Melissa Hiles and Owner Amy Spitznagel sampling multiple flavors of Idyll Pastures, multiple flavors of Spreadable Idyll Pastures, Mont Idyll, Idyllweiss, Idyll Gris & Camembert
  • Jacobs & Brichford Farmstead Cheese, Connersville, Indiana – Cheesemaker Leslie Jacobs & Maize Jacobs-Brichford sampling Everton, Everton Premium Reserve, Tomme de Fayette, Briana & Briana with Truffles
  • LaClare Farms Specialties, Pipe, Wisconsin – Cheesemaker Katie Fuhrmann sampling Evalon, Martone, Chandoka, Raw Milk Goat Cheddar, Goat Cheddar & Goat Pepperjack
  • Landmark Creamery, Albany, Wisconsin – Cheesemakers Anna Landmark and Anna Thomas Bates sampling Anabasque, Petit Nuage, Pecora Nocciola, Tallgrass Reserve & Pipit
  • Lone Grazer Creamery, Minneapolis, Minnesota – Cheesemaker Rueben Nilsson sampling Grazier’s Edge, Hansom Cab & Northeazy
  • Marieke Gouda, Thorp, Wisconsin – Cheesemaker Marieke Penterman sampling Marieke Gouda Smoked, Marieke Gouda Truffle, Marieke Gouda Cumin, Marieke Golden & Marieke Gouda Young
  • Martha’s Pimento Cheese, Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Cheesemaker Martha Davis Kipcak sampling Martha’s Pimento Cheese Mild, Martha’s Pimento Cheese with Jalapeno & Martha’s Pimento Cheese with Chile de Arbol
  • Olive on Tap, Minnetonka, Minnesota – Owners Rebecca & Don Bouchier sampling Artisan Blended Olive Oils, Balsamic Vinegars, Tapenade, Artichokes in Merlot, Muffaletta, Asiago Parmesan Cheese Dip, Bruschetta Toppings, Honey Mustards, Balsamic Jams, Italiano Antipasto & Bread Dipping Seasonings
  • Organic Valley, LaFarge, Wisconsin – Master Cheesemaker Carie Wagner sampling Organic Valley cheeses
  • Potter’s Crackers, Madison, Wisconsin – Owner Nancy Potter sampling a variety of Potter’s Crackers, Potter’s Crisps and Potter’s Oyster Crackers
  • Quince and Apple, Madison, Wisconsin – Owners Clare & Matt Stoner Fehsenfeld sampling a variety of small-batch preserves, including: Figs and Black Tea, Pear with Honey and Ginger, Peach Chamomile, Raspberry Rose & Tart Cherry and White Tea
  • Red Barn Family Farms, Appleton, Wisconsin – Meet Owner Paula Homan and taste a variety of artisan cheeses
  • Red Table Meat Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota – Owner & Salumiere Mike Phillips sampling Mortadella, Pancetta, Lonza, and Large Caliber Salami.
  • Redhead Creamery, Brooten, Minnesota – Cheesemaker Alise Sjostrom sampling Lucky Linda Clothbound Cheddar, Little Lucy Brie & North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster
  • Rochdale Farms, Minneapolis, Minnesota – President Mary Bess Michaletz sampling Hand Rolled Butter, Yogurt, Goat Cheddar & Organic Cheeses
  • Roelli Cheese, Shullsburg, Wisconsin – Master Cheesemaker Chris Roelli sampling Dunbarton Blue & Red Rock
  • Sartori Company, Plymouth, Wisconsin – Master Cheesemaker Pam Hodgson sampling Extra Aged Goat Cheese, MontAmore, SarVecchio Parmesan, Chipotle BellaVitano, Rosemary & Olive Oil Asiago
  • Saxon Creamery, Cleveland, Wisconsin – Cheesemaker Eric Steltenpohl sampling Big Ed’s Gourmet Cheese Spread, Asiago Fresca Gourmet Cheese Spread, Pastures English Style Cheddar, Big Ed’s Smokehaus Gouda, Big Ed’s Gouda & Snowfields Aged Butterkase
  • Schuman Cheese, Fairfield, New Jersey – Representatives Catherine Thornton, Jim Gregori and Neil Cox sampling Cello Hand Crafted Asiago, Cello Artisan Parmesan, Cello Copper Kettle Parmesan, Cello Traditional Romano, Cello Italian Style Fontal, Cello Whisps & Cello Mascarpone
  • Sheep Dairy Association of Wisconsin – sampling a variety of Wisconsin sheep milk cheeses
  • Shepherd’s Way Farms, Nerstrand, Minnesota – Cheesemaker Jodi Ohlsen Read and Shepherd Steven Read sampling Friesago, Big Woods Blue, Hidden Falls & Shepherd’s Hope
  • Springside Cheese, Oconto Falls, Wisconsin – Cheesemaker Nathan Hintz sampling Bandaged Cheddar, Krakow & Pueblo Jack
  • Treat Bake Shop, Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Owner Sarah Marx Feldner sampling Spiced & Candied Nuts
  • Uplands Cheese, Dodgeville, Wisconsin – Cheesemaker Andy Hatch sampling Pleasant Ridge Reserve
  • Vermont Creamery, Websterville, Vermont – Representative Michele Haram sampling St. Albans, Bonne Bouche, Bijou & Cranberry Orange Cinnamon Chevre
  • Widmer’s Cheese Cellars, Theresa, Wisconsin – Meet Master Cheesemaker Joe Widmer and taste a variety of artisan cheeses
  • Yellow River Dairy, Monona, Iowa – Owners Don & Pat Lund sampling goat cheeses

New Fall Cheese Class Series Announced

Hey Cheese Peeps! In an effort to alleviate the hate mail I’ve been getting because all of my Wisconsin Cheese Originals classes are sold out through the end of the year, I just added four new tasting and talking classes. Whoo-hoo!

Here are the details:

You get to hang out with me, Jeanne Carpenter, American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional, on a Sunday evening and taste and learn about at least four different cheeses each time. You may purchase classes separately for $25 each, or purchase the entire four-class series for $90.

We meet at the lovely Firefly Coffeehouse, 114 North Main Street in downtown Oregon, Wisconsin, located just a quick 10 minutes south of Madison. Classes start at 6:00 pm. Each is limited to 20 attendees. Classes include a complimentary glass of wine, beer or beverage of your choice.  

This is important: These classes sell out fast, so reserve your seat in advance at www.cheesetickets.com

September 25
Cheese 101: Taste the Eight Categories of Cheese

Start out with an introduction to the eight different types of cheese – fresh, semi-soft, soft ripened, surface-ripened, semi-hard, aged, washed rind, and blue. Learn and taste your way through your very own cheese board of eight artisan cheeses, then take the board home and impress your friends with your new-found knowledge.

October 23
American Farmstead Cheeses

Perhaps some of the most eye-appealing and palate-pleasing cheeses are those hand-crafted on the same farm as where the animals – cows, sheep or goats – are milked.  Learn the stories and taste four of the best farmstead cheeses made in America today.

November 20
The Best of American Original Cheeses

The United States is home to some of the most innovative cheesemakers in the world. We’ll taste four original cheeses dreamt up by cheesemakers either through sheer genius or, more often, by mistake. Hear the stories of what it takes to create an award-winning American Original.

December 4
Cheese & Chocolate Pairings

Give yourself an early holiday gift with tickets to this festive tasting of four American artisan cheeses paired with four different chocolates from local chocolatiers. Learn tips and tricks of pairing sweet with savory, and get ideas for holiday gifts for your friends and family!

Happy Birthday Veronica Pedraza. Your Cheeses Rock.

Today is cheesemaker Veronica Pedraza’s birthday and I think we should celebrate with beauty shots of her fabulous cheeses.

For those of you not in the know, Veronica is the lead cheesemaker at Meadowood Farms in New York. She is also a former monger, spectacular fellow member of the American Cheese Society Education Committee, and is an honorary Wisconsinite, as she attended Beloit College and has been overheard appreciating how just gosh darn nice we are here in the Midwest.

When you find her cheeses at retail, buy them immediately. Each is made lovingly in small batches and is exquisite. Here are three of my favorites:

Ledyard: Veronica was inspired by Robiola and St Marcelin when she created this beauty. A soft-ripened sheep’s milk cheese, it is wrapped in grape leaves soaked in Deep Purple, a wheat beer made with Madison County concord grapes.

Strawbridge: in Wisconsin, we have a dearth of non-stabilized soft-ripened cheeses, so this bloomy-rind sheep’s milk cheese especially speaks to me. When it’s young, it’s easy to eat and agreeable to all, but as it ripens, it develops the bold mushroomy flavors of a real Camembert. Similar to a triple crème, it is decadent and buttery.

Juvindale: this is about as close as you’re going to get to Reblochon without paying the European airfare to eat the original. Made with cow’s milk, the rind is thin and pillowy, with a buttery, tangy paste with just the right amount of barny pungency.

Happy birthday, Veronica! You have a fan club in Wisconsin. Your cheese makes us happy.

Photos by my fabulous husband, Uriah Carpenter.