Monday, February 4, 2013

Cheese Snobs

Okay, so it was only a matter of time before we talked about our guilty pleasure...cheese.  Today Wild Kat and BoPeep are discussing the finer points of the historic Wisconsin cheese industry.  Let's have a listen...

BoPeep  Up until a few months ago, I've always been happy to just buy whatever cheese is on sale at the grocery store.  We do have some cheesemakers in the area and as long as the label said "Made in Wisconsin," I was happy.  But actually...I think I'm turning into a cheese snob!  Over the summer, my husband and I bought some really good artisan cheese at local farmer's markets, and holy smokes, can you tell the difference!

Wild Kat   When I was young my grandfather always had some good sharp cheddar in the icebox. I remember he told me once that he never cared for processed cheese and that he didn't "trust" it. Perhaps this was from the rationing of newly processed cheese to troops when he was in WWII.

BoPeep  Exactly! I grew up on the three pound box of American cheese.  Now my kids call that "flat cheese."

Wild Kat  Growing up I didn't give much thought to cheese in general, but moving to another state made me appreciate Wisconsin cheese. My developing love of Italian food led me to Parmesan. Parmesan...if you buy a wedge and shred it over your pasta, it is hard to go back to the stuff in the green can!

BoPeep  So you live in a perpetual Olive Garden?   Yum!  Being from Wisconsin, we should take pride in our dairy heritage.  Buying local is always important, but especially when you come from a place that is known for a particular product.  A while back I bought some Kraft string cheese for the lunchboxes.  It was like eating an eraser!  No...more like eating a spatula.  Absolutely no flavor at all, and the most horrible texture.  And that's a nationally revered brand?!  Again, I think I'm a cheese snob. 

FYI ~ we Wisconsinites have improved our cheeseheads these days.

Wild Kat  Once you taste quality cheese, it's hard to go back. I am a cheese snob and will soon turn you into a food snob, too! Olive Garden is not real Italian food! The local Kraft factory decided to shut it's doors leaving the employees jobless. Those employees decided to change their misfortune into fortune. They invested all their own 401Ks and started the Antigo Cheese Co.  Later they were bought out by Sartori Foods, and they continue to craft award-winning cheeses. Their success started with the parmesan! I love to support local people who chose to keep business here for themselves and the farmers.

BoPeep  It warms the insides to buy local!  There are sooo many good cheese houses in this state.  And I would be remiss if I didn't mention (fun fact!) that Wisconsin is the leading state in dairy sheep, hence sheep's cheese.  Check out a great blog post about both the history and the modern face of the Wisconsin cheese industry over at Kitchen Rap.

Wild Kat  We often put cheese on or in food, but have you ever had a cheese tasting party? Divine! A little wine never hurts, but then you can get the full flavor and distinctions of each cheese. Sartori's Bellavitano, one of my favorites, is buttery with a little bite. Be sure to bring your cheese to room temp for full flavor. Mmmm, I'm getting hungry.

BoPeep  'Nuff said...cheese-stuffed cheese for dinner!  And afterwards, when we pop the button on our pants, let's start planning that cheese tasting party.

Wild Kat Start with your favorite milk - cow, sheep, goat - and select your cheese from there. Be sure to have a selection of hard, soft, and semi-soft cheese for tasting. Then you can pick your wine. 

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