Go Wisconsin Artisan Cheese!

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Food Slam tickets are sold out and I feel real bad for everyone who’s gonna miss out on cheese enthusiast Laura Bucher’s cheese tasting tomorrow night. I met with Laura today and tasted four of the fabulous artisan cheeses she’ll be showcasing at the Slam. Les Freres, a European-style cheese produced by Crave Brothers of Waterloo, is a sweet and earthy cheese that won first place in its category at the 2009 American Cheese Society competition in awesome Austin, TX. Another nectarous cheese, Roelli’s Dunbarton Blue, which Laura terms a “beginner’s blue,” is in the cheddar blue vein family. It’s rich, creamy, deep, and delicious, and its natural rind is so marbled and beautiful that I couldn’t stop eating and photographing its magnificence. The third cheese, Burning Nettle Melange crafted by Holland’s Family Farm in Thorp, WI, is a lusty gouda layered with the flavors of celery, chive, and onion. It’s no wonder that it was a top contender at the 2010 World Cheese Championship. Fresh milk is pumped directly from the dairy to the cheese vat, enabling the cheesemakers to produce the good gouda without preheating, pasteurizing, or bastardizing the milk in any way. My favorite cheese is Marisa made by Carr Valley in La Valle, WI. It’s a sheep’s milk cheese, aged for up to six months, and infused with a subtle toothy crunch, which is the result of tyrosine, an amino acid that’s reputed to spark happiness in the brain. So there’s your science lesson for the day, provided by a writer who had to take Biology twice in high school in order to pass. Laura says that some of these cheeses are pretty weird, but, as we all know, we WMSE supporters are pretty freakin’ weird ourselves, so the cheeses are in good company. I myself will be camped out all night next to these spectacular delights, washing them down with glass after glass of fine Trapiche wine.

–Erin Harris

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