Holy Crap Moment No. 1 -- New Mixed Milk Cheese: Last week, I trapped Hidden Springs Creamery Cheesemaker Brenda Jensen in my backseat while driving to Marion Street Market in Chicago for a Wisconsin Cheesemaker Dinner and talked shop for a total of five hours of driving. Along the way, we tasted - and by we, I mean me - her new Meadow Melody, a mixed milk cheese made with cow's milk and sheep's milk.
Holy crap, is this cheese good. At only 3 months old, I think it's ready to sell. Rich, creamy, complex and made in the same two-pound wheel forms as Brenda's Ocooch Mountain, the new Meadow Melody is a future award contender. Let's just say that this cheese is so good, I ate basically the entire wedge corn-on-the-cob style while motoring down the road. Yum.
By the way, the cheesemaker dinner at Marion Street Market was fabulous and included five courses featuring cheeses from Wisconsin's Chris Roelli, Brenda Jensen and Andy Hatch. After dinner, Chris, Brenda and Andy were all in demand, as people bought the new 2011 Portrait of a Wisconsin Cheesemaker Calendar and had the cheesemakers sign their featured months. It's official: Wisconsin cheesemakers have attained rock star status. For photos of the evening, as well as all the dishes, visit my Wisconsin Cheese Originals Facebook site.
Holy Crap Moment No. 2 -- New Cedar Grove Cheese: Thursday night, I headed to Quivey’s Grove Restaurant and Stable Bar in Madison for an evening of tastings of Cedar Grove cheeses, Capital craft beers and select wines from Stone’s Throw Winery in Door County. The event drew a nice crowd and was co-sponsored by www.cheesepleese.com, a new cheese-of-the-month club featuring Wisconsin artisan cheeses delivered directly to your door.
The highlight of the evening was discovering a new cheese from Cedar Grove, which I am a little embarrassed to say I can't remember how to spell. I'm pretty sure it's called Heide, but after a few beer and cheese pairings, I can't read my notes. In good news, I'm headed to Cedar Grove tomorrow to make buffalo mozzarella with Bob, so I will pick up some more then and report back. Let me just say this is an amazing aged cheddar, with nutty, Asiago notes and a perfectly, clean finish. It goes really well with Capital's Wisconsin Amber.
Holy Pork Tenderloin: My last "holy crap" moment came yesterday, as I was judging the Dueling Chefs competition at the Madison Food and Wine Show. Of course, I never get lucky enough to judge the heat where the secret ingredient is cheese, but this year, I got to judge a heat where the secret ingredients were pork tenderloin and pork belly. Oh yeah, baby.
Chefs Dave Heide from Lilianna's and Jesse Matz of Bunky's squared off, each having only 30 minutes to prepare two unique dishes using the mystery ingredient. My favorite of the four different dishes was the last one by Liliana's, where Chef Dave seared the pork tenderloin and then accompanied it with sauteed Peruvian purple potatoes, and brussels sprout salad. Awesome. Chef Jesse won the match by a closer-than-close score of 210-209, but both chefs did a fabulous job. Will be fun to see who wins the grand champion chef contest today at the show. You never know, might just be another "holy crap" moment.