Photo courtesy of Joe Laedtke, EatingMilwaukee.com
On Friday morning, I departed with 20 Milwaukee area food bloggers to Madison on a cheese touring excursion, which was sponsored by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. We visited three different cheese making plants, The Madison Club, The Dane County Farmers’ Market and Graze restaurant. It was by far the best field trip I’ve ever been on – and the tastiest! Since we packed so much into two days, I’ll be splitting our adventures into a few posts throughout the week.
First, here are some cheese facts courtesy of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board:
- Wisconsin is the nation’s No. 1 producer of cheese and makes 26% of America’s cheese
- Wisconsin cheesemakers produce more than 600 kids of cheese
- Wisconsin is the only producer on Limburger in the US (otherwise known as the “stinky cheese”)
- It takes 10 lbs. of milk to make 1 lb. of cheese
- Wisconsin leads the nation in specialty cheeses like Gorgonzola, Gruyere, Asiago, Provolone, Aged Cheddar, Gouda and Blue
First, we visited Chalet Cheese Co-op in Monroe, Wisconsin. They are the only Limburger cheesemaker in the country. They are also known for their award-winning Swiss, Baby Swiss and German Brick cheeses.
Myron Olson is the master cheesemaker who gave us a tour. He has been making cheese since 1970, and you could see how passionate he was about his work. According to Myron, Chalet Cheese made 500,000 lbs. of cheese last year. Their cheeses have been featured on Modern Marvels, Larry the Cable Guy and Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.
I have never seen cheese being made before. I couldn’t believe how big their machines were.
Our group of bloggers were more like the paparazzi. I’m sure this made Myron’s day that we were so interested in his craft.
Introducing the stinkiest place in America – the Limburger cheese room. I had to breathe out of my mouth because the smell was so strong. Thankfully it tastes a lot better than it smells!
This is the Limburger wrapping machine. In each plant, we had to wear hairnets. Not the most attractive thing, but no one wants a stray hair in their cheese.
Here, Myron took a sample of Swiss from their huge blocks.
Afterward, Chalet put out samples for us to try of all their cheeses. Personally, I couldn’t get enough of their Swiss and Baby Swiss. Absolutely fantastic.
So happy to be out of that hairnet!
Here is the stinky Limburger cheese – quite delicious with strawberry jam.
As part of the trip, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board gave us coolers to bring stuff home in and this fabulous cheese serving board (there are even serving tools that are hidden inside). Today, Brenton and I went to our local Pick N’ Save and saw Chalet’s Limburger cheese. We had to buy some and test out our new serving platter. (That white cheese on the end is a light Blue wedge from the Laughing Cow.) Since our dog Oliver loves cheese, I thought I’d give him a piece of Limburger to see if he’d eat it. He gobbled it right up!
Stay tuned for more cheese tour posts!