Somehow I get the feeling Wisconsin cheesemakers don't take summer vacation. With all the new cheeses out on the market this season, it's hard to keep up. Here are few new favorites worth trying before the summer is over:
Master Cheesemaker Mike Matucheski has hit another home run with this new creation, just now launch in national markets. It features the earthy flavors of garlic, thyme and olive oil, even giving off a little heat, courtesy of the Aleppo pepper. This beauty just won second place in its class at the 2011 Wisconsin State Fair Cheese Competition.
Ricotta Salata, BelGioioso Cheese
Known as The Italian Feta, Ricotta Salata starts as a milky ricotta. Salt is added to aide in moisture loss and the cheese is then hand scooped into cheesecloth and pressed into wheels. During the 60-day aging process, its texture becomes dry and crumbly, producing a wheel that is easy to slice, cube, crumble and shave. It's perfect for topping hot pastas or cold salads. BelGioioso's Ricotta Salata won a second place at the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest in March and is just now hitting retail shelves.
There's never a dull moment when Master Cheesemaker Bob Wills is around. His latest addition to the Wisconsin cheese scene is German Style Quark, a fresh cheese that's a cross between cream cheese and cottage cheese. Common in Europe, Quark is just now catching on in the United States. Try mixing fresh herbs for a spread or using it in a cheesecake. I've also had it mixed with dark chocolate and strawberries - yum! - courtesy of Cheesemaker Blair Johnson. Available in select Wisconsin specialty cheese stores. Call your cheesemonger and request it!
U.S. Champion Cheesemaker Katie Hedrich has rolled out two new cheeses. Evalon, a semi-hard goat's milk cheese, is now available with either a strip of cumin or fenugreek down the middle. Both cheeses are new to the market, but can be found in specialty cheese shops across the state. The fenugreek style just won a Blue Ribbon at the American Cheese Society in Montreal. Congrats, Katie!