Last week when I was at the Fancy Foods Show, I took some time to check out the new cheese offerings from Wisconsin. The state is one of the oldest cheese making regions in the nation and its terrior is especially conducive to excellent dairying. The artisanal cheese makers of Wisconsin produce tons of amazing and award-winning cheese like Marieke gouda, which is sold at some Whole Foods and is a personal favorite — I love their gouda with cumin. Although not all of the Wisconsin cheese makers have distributors, if I come across any of the following cheese, I’m buying it immediately. You should too. Trust me on this, these cheeses are extraordinary!
1. Ziege Zacke Blue. This blue cheese is perfect for people who typically don’t like blue cheese because it’s super creamy and just slightly tangy. It’s a dry cheese made from a combination of cow’s and goat’s milk. It was created by an award-winning young cheese maker, Katie Hedrich, and the fun-to-pronounce name translates to goat cheese with a wave of blue in German.
2. Edun New Zealand Style Cheddar. This cheese is all about the milk. It’s incredibly smooth and mild in taste, but it’s also soft and wonderful. It highlights the value of the milk in cheese. Wisconsin cheese makers clearly like coming up with clever cheese names because this one, Edun, is actually called Nude. It’s referring to the untarnished, pure milk taste of the cheese.
3. Juustoleipa. A cheese with Finnish origin, a lower ph level, and another funny name, this brick of cheese is ideal for melting. In fact, it’s a special cheese that is supposed to be placed directly on a grill or pan until it’s crispy, brown, gooey, and delicious. Noble View Creamery makes several flavors, but I couldn’t stop eating the jalapeño juustoleipa.
4. Fresh Asiago from Saxon’s Glacial Lakes. I was surprised to taste this fresh asiago, not because it was absolutely fabulous, but because it was fresh. I didn’t know that asiago came in a fresh form! I’ve only come across hard dry asiago, which I now know is aged asiago. It’s fresh counterpart is completely different, delicate, and more like a ricotta. The cheese I tasted was only 25 days old. Awesome!
5. Spicy Beer Cheese Spread. I’m a sucker for the combination of beer and cheese and spreadable cheese, while on the processed-bad-for-you side of things, is one of my guilty pleasures. Naturally, I loved this new product from Pine River. They also make a hot habanero spread that was scrumptious and super spicy (that is what’s in the photo).