This past week, I hitched it up (well, I didn’t really hitch) to the state of Wisconsin to tour and sample a variety of cheeses on behalf of the Wisconsin Milk Board and BK Internationals.
Maple Leaf Cheese in Monroe, WI. They have been making cheese for 100 years and have two certified master cheese makers. While we were in their facility, the cheese masters were in the midst of crafting cheese curds – they gave us fresh ones to taste which were amazing!
Emmi Roth USA in Monroe, WI. Their facility is underground where they make Gruyere and Gran Queso among other varieties. The aging room features a machine dubbed “Uncle Sam” that keeps the cheese moist and balanced through the aging process. After the tour of their facility, lunch was served in their storefront. They made fondue – absolutely incredible!
Carr Valley Cheese in Sauk City, WI. I was able to meet the owner and certified master cheese maker. While sampling cheeses, the staff told me about the company – Carr Valley is in its fourth generation of owning and operating! Some of the cheeses are inspired by and named after staff members; other varieties are named because of their ingredients. Carr Valley cheese has some creative and unique tastes, but also something for everyone.
Crave Brothers, in Waterloo, WI. Here, we toured the facility while they were making mascarpone and fresh mozzarella (I even got to sample some of their mozzarella as it was being formed!) Crave Brothers is owned by four brothers who do everything themselves. One brother plants the seeds and farms the land to feed their cows; another brother cares for the cows from the birth; one brother milks the cows in addition to testing and caring for the milk; the last brother turns the milk into all the cheese that they make. Crave Brothers are also a completely green facility! The four brothers use the manure from the cows to create power not only for the farm and the facility, but also for 300 homes surrounding the farm!!
Sartori Cheese in Plymouth, WI. Like Carr Valley, Satori is a fourth generation family owned and operated company. The owners use milk from local farms that are also owned and operated by families and the generations that follow. It’s evident that they share a deep sense of connection to each other and with the land.
Saxon Creamery in Cleveland, WI, Because I toured Saxon’s towards the end of the day, I was lucky enough to see some made cheese sitting in brine, waiting to be moved to their aging room. I also was able to see how they put their own special mark on all of their cheese – they wrap the cheese wheels with a special stencil while they are still in their finishing stage, so on the sides of the cheese it looks like a vine and on top is their name.
Hennings Cheese in Kiel, WI. Here, I toured the Hennings cheese museum! The museum featured some items that were used during different time periods to make cheese. Hennings has been making cheese since 1914 and are known for their ability to make mammoth wheels of cheddar. Customers are encouraged to pre order a wheel by the size and age (just know that you will have to wait that long to get it!) During my visit, I saw a wheel that weighed in at 4,000 lbs, however, some wheels have been as big as 12,000 lbs!! Now, that is a big piece of cheese!!
The trip was a great learning and life experience!! I will soon be bringing in some of the cheeses that were sampled in Wisconsin to Swarthmore, at the Co-op. Please, if you find any cheeses on the above websites, let me know and I will try my hardest to bring them to your co-op!!