Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tours! Tours! Tours! Tours!

I'm not sure what you do when you get bored, but when I'm tired of sitting at my desk writing about cheesemakers, I organize a tour to go see them. Then I take 20 people along with me. Sound like fun? Here's 4 upcoming tours in 2012 in which I'd love for you to join me!

Tickets on Sale Now
Sept. 21 - 22: The Driftless Region Artisan Cheese & Craft Beer Tour
If you've ever wanted a backstage pass to Wisconsin's artisan cheese plants and craft breweries, this exclusive two-day tour is the bee's knees. Get an inside look as to why the cheese and beer produced in the Driftless Region of Southwest Wisconsin is routinely judged as some of the best in the world. Limited to just 20 people, this overnight adventure includes custom tours and tastings at:
Plus, we'll indulge in a fabulous local-foods dinner and overnight bed and breakfast stay at The Roth House and Old Oak Inn in Soldiers Grove. Tour price includes all meals, tours, tastings, accommodations and transportation via air-conditioned motorcoach. Reserve your spot by July 15. Price: $345 per person, based on double occupancy. $395 for single travelers. View a detailed itinerary by clicking here. Save your seat by clicking here.


Tickets to go on sale in September

Nov. 9:  Driftless Cheeses of Wisconsin
It’s been called the Napa Valley of the Midwest, and for good reason. With its own micro-climate of plentiful rainfall, sweet soils and limestone-filtered water, the unglaciated corner of Southwest Wisconsin is dairy paradise. 

Start out the day with a tour at Uplands Cheese in Dodgeville, where you’ll meet Cheesemaker Andy Hatch and tour the farmstead creamery crafting the best-known cheese in America: Pleasant Ridge Reserve. Then motor to Cedar Grove Cheese in Plain and meet Bob Wills, Wisconsin’s chief incubator of up-and-coming cheesemakers. You’ll tour this historic cheese factory as well as the facility’s “Living Machine,” a working ecosystem using natural microbes and a collection of hydroponic plants to biologically treat cheese wastewater back into clean water that is discharged into nearby Honey Creek. 

After lunch and time for shopping at the charming General Store in downtown Spring Green, you’ll cruise to Dreamfarm in Cross Plains to meet Cheesemaker Diana Murphy, ooh and ahh over her super cute herd of milking goats and pastured chickens, and taste her farmstead goat’s milk cheeses. Scenic views of rolling hills and winding rivers from the expansive windows of a luxury bus included for free.

This customized, small-group tour is part of the Fourth Annual Wisconsin Original Cheese Festival (come for the whole weekend) and will depart Madison at 7:45 a.m. and return to Madison by 5 p.m. Limited to 20 people, with time for personal conversations with cheesemakers at a casual and enjoyable pace. Price: $115 per person. Includes transportation via an executive air-conditioned motor coach, specially-arranged lunches, custom tours, and cheese tastings at each stop. Tickets go on sale in September.

Nov. 9: Green County Cheese & Beer Experience
Saddle up for a day of eating cheese and drinking beer, folks. You’ll motor in a luxury bus to fabulous Green County, home to more than a dozen cheese plants in a 585-square mile area. First up: a tour and tasting with Cheesemaker Myron Olson at Chalet Cheese Cooperative, home to World Champion Baby Swiss and the only cheese factory in North America still making Limburger, the king of stinky cheese. 

You’ll have a chance to cleanse your palate at the next stop: Minhas Brewery in downtown Monroe, where dairy maids will lead a 1-hour tour and tasting of some of the finest craft beers made in Wisconsin. Lunch is up the street at Baumgartner’s, one of Wisconsin’s best-loved and historic taverns. If you’re lucky, the bartenders might even flip a dollar bill on the ceilings while you’re there! 

Round out the afternoon at Emmi Roth USA in Monroe with a tour of the company’s impressive Gruyere aging rooms, and an exclusive cheese tasting in their elegant Culinary Center. Word to the wise: bring a pillow, as you’ll most likely be napping on a full stomach all the way home.

This customized, small-group tour is part of the Fourth Annual Wisconsin Original Cheese Festival (come for the whole weekend) and will depart Madison at 7:45 a.m. and return to Madison by 5 p.m. Limited to 20 people, with time for personal conversations with cheesemakers at a casual and enjoyable pace. Price: $115 per person. Includes transportation via an executive air-conditioned motor coach, specially-arranged lunches, custom tours, and cheese tastings at each stop. Tickets go on sale in September.


Nov. 9: Wisconsin Farmstead Dairy Backstage Pass
More than 20 farmstead dairies have sprouted in Wisconsin in the last 10 years, and this tour gives you a backstage pass to two of the best. You’ll start your day with Cheesemaker George Crave at Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese in Waterloo, with a tour of the cheese factory, followed by a farm tour and opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with farm cows and calves. Afterward, enjoy an elegant cheese tasting and lunch in the Craves’ new on-farm Culinary Center, where you’ll taste the Crave cheeses in exciting new dishes. 

Next, motor in your luxury bus to Sassy Cow Creamery in Columbus for a dairy plant tour of milk bottling and ice cream making with owner James Baerwolf. After ordering your choice of ice cream cone, milkshake or sundae, you’ll tour the Baerwolf dairy farms, where each brother milks a herd of organic and conventional cows. 

End the day with a private cheese tasting at Fromagination in Madison, where you’ll have a chance to taste a half dozen of the best farmstead cheeses from Wisconsin. We promise you won’t go home hungry.

This customized, small-group tour is part of the Fourth Annual Wisconsin Original Cheese Festival (come for the whole weekend) and will depart Madison at 7:45 a.m. and return to Madison by 5 p.m. Limited to 20 people, with time for personal conversations with cheesemakers at a casual and enjoyable pace. Price: $115 per person. Includes transportation via an executive air-conditioned motor coach, specially-arranged lunches, custom tours, and cheese tastings at each stop. Tickets go on sale in September.

To stay updated on all tours, tastings, dinners and events regarding Wisconsin artisan cheesemakers, visit www.WisconsinCheeseOriginals.com -- membership is only $35 per family or company! I'd love to see you at my next cheesy event.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Three Wisconsin Cheeses You Won't Want to Recall from Office


With the recall elections finally behind us, it's time to get back to what we Wisconsinites do best: eat cheese. Here are three Wisconsin cheeses sure to help you recover from recall fever.

Red, White & Blue
Three Wisconsin Artisan Cheeses to Celebrate This Summer

1. Red Rock, Roelli Cheese, Shullsburg, Wis.
This cheese is the Miss America of Wisconsin artisan cheeses - it's got it all - brains and beauty. Heck, we bet it would even look good in an evening gown. Hand-crafted by Cheesemaker Chris Roelli at Roelli Cheese Haus in Shullsburg, Red Rock is the must-have cheese of 2012. Made with a double-dose of annatto giving it that deep red color, Red Rock is a creamy Cheddar with blue veins. Dubbed the little brother of Chris' other signature cheese, Dunbarton Blue, Red Rock is perfect on a sandwich or as the stand-alone star on a cheese plate. roellicheese.com



2. Snow White Goat Cheddar, Carr Valley Cheese, LaValle, Wis.
Crowned as Best in Show by the American Cheese Society in 2008, this creamy white goat cheese crafted by Master Cheesemaker Sid Cook at Carr Valley is cave-aged for six months to achieve a deep, complex flavor. We hear the folks at Disney occasionally complain about Carr Valley's use of their character's name, but that's just silly. We'd advise they partner with Carr Valley instead, and have Snow White start eating goat cheddar in every Disney classic. Win-win! carrvalleycheese.com



3. Bohemian Blue, Hidden Springs Creamery, Westby, Wis.
This cheese is the tale of what happens when two cheesemakers get together over a cup of coffee and ask: What if? A few years ago, Brenda Jensen of Hidden Springs Creamery, and Tony Hook of Hook's Cheese, teamed up to save America from a potential cheese embargo. The result: Bohemian Blue, designed to compete with Roquefort, lest America and France ever decide to add that threatened 300% tariff on Roquefort, the world's most famous French-made sheep's milk blue. Bohemian Blue, a cave-aged, rindless blue made from sheep's milk from Hidden Springs, and crafted by Hook's Creamery, is an ode to Jensen's Bohemian grandparents. Dry and crumbly, compared to drippy and wet Roqueforts, Bohemian Blue sports a sweet, slightly sour finish. Tres bien! hiddenspringscreamery.com