Monday, July 29, 2013

ACS Folks: Here Are 5 Ways to Become a Wisconsite

Hey there ACS fans and friends! I know you’re traveling to Madison for the American Cheese Society this week, and you might be worrying about how to fit into our cosmopolitan world class city. Here's my first word of advice: leave the stilettos at home and pack your Birkenstocks. Then follow these five suggestions to become a true member of America’s Dairyland.

1. Eat deep fried cheese curds until you’re sick
Just like Friday fish fries, Jell-O salads, and beer brats, deep-fried cheese curds are uniquely Wisconsin. In downtown Madison, dozens of restaurants offer deep-fried curds as an appetizer or side, and some are even transforming the once lowly fair-food into a top-shelf item. Around the Square, check out the deep fried beauties at The Old Fashioned, Tipsy Cow or Graze. For best results, pair with a local craft beer, because it’s always best to mix hot oil and cheese with a little fermented yeast.

2. Drink beer with a cheesemaker

Madison is home to a thriving craft beer culture, with a half dozen brewpubs located within a couple blocks of the Square. On July 31, buy a $10 Pub Crawl ticket at the ACS Registration desk and buy a pint to drink with one of 18 different Wisconsin cheesemakers hanging out at six different downtown taverns. Visit them all, and you can enter to win a free ACS Registration for next year.

3. Get your shop on down State Street
Madison is a university town, and in the fall, winter and spring, State Street – a pedestrian-only, six-block shopping boulevard - is crowded with students. In good news, it’s summer, so you’ll have it to yourself. Full of eclectic shops and restaurants, State Street is THE place to see and be seen in Madison. Walk to the end and enjoy an ice cream cone at the UW-Madison Union, and sit on the pier while watching sailboats cruise Lake Mendota.

4. Eat a picnic on the Capital lawn
During the lunch hour and extending well into the afternoon, the four sides of the state capital lawn transform into the city’s unofficial picnic spot for downtown workers and visitors. Grab a sandwich and cheese plate from Fromagination, walk across the street, and people watch as you enjoy a cheesy snack. Warning: the lawn is famous for its influx (some might say infestation) of squirrels, so guard that sandwich accordingly.

5. Explore the Capital City Path via B Cycle
A paved bike/walking path starts downtown and rings Lake Monona, enticing many a visitor to hop on a rented bicycle or hoof it around the lake. Buy a B-Cycle pass for just $3 – a special discount for conference attendees from the normal $5 rate (there are two stations on West Wilson, on either side of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, just one block up from the Monona Terrace) – and explore the Capital City Path for an afternoon on wheels. Find information about public restroom stops and drinking fountains at Bike Madison. Be sure and stop to feed the ducks your leftover sandwich on Lake Monona or enjoy the sunset in Olin Park. Pedal back before dark to enjoy the view of the Capital lit up at night.

Of course, it goes without saying that I'll see you all on Saturday at the Dane County Farmer's Market, which surrounds the Capital Square, and is the largest producer-only farmer's market in the nation. See you there!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Your One Stop Shop for ACS Public Cheesemaker Events

With the American Cheese Society Conference and Competition in town all week at the Monona Terrace, it's sheer cheese madness in Madison. This week will be one of the only times you'll ever see hundreds of cheesemakers all in the same place at the same time, and many are doing special events around the state.

So, while the conference itself is aimed primarily towards cheese professionals and serious cheese enthusiasts, here's a round-up of cheesy events where you can still meet your favorite cheesemaker and taste their cheeses.

MONDAY, JULY 29

Book Signing and Cheese Tasting with Author Janet Fletcher
Time: 6 pm
Location: Fromagination, 12 S. Carroll St., Madison
Cost: Free

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TUESDAY, JULY 30

Sartori Cheese Tasting
Time: Noon - 4 pm
Location: Fromagination, 12 S. Carroll St., Madison
Cost: Free

Alemar Cheese Tasting with Minnesota Cheesemaker Keith Adams
Time: 5-7 pm
Location: Fromagination, 12 S. Carroll St., Madison
Cost: Free

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WEDNESDAY, JULY 31

Sugar Brook Cheese Tasting
Time: 1-3 pm
Location: Fromagination, 12 S. Carroll St., Madison
Cost: Free

Sartori Cheese Tasting
Time: 2:30-5:30 pm
Location: Metcalfe's Market, 726 N. Midvale Blvd., Madison
Cost: Free 

Green Dirt Farm Cheese Tasting with Missouri Cheesemaker Jacqueline Smith
Time: 3-6 pm
Location: Metcalfe's Market, 726 N. Midvale Blvd., Madison
Cost: Free

Holland Family Farms Cheese Tasting
Time: 5-7 pm
Location: Fromagination, 12 S. Carroll St., Madison
Cost: Free

Avalanche Cheese Company Cheese Tasting with Colorado Cheesemaker Wendy Mitchell
Time: 5-7 pm
Location: Fromagination, 12 S. Carroll St., Madison
Cost: Free

Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery Tasting with Vermont Cheesemaker Joey Connor
Time: 5-7 pm
Location: Metcalfe's Market, 726 N. Midvale Blvd., Madison
Cost: Free

ACS Meet Madison, Hosted by Underground Food Collective
Time: 5:30 - 8pm
Location: James Madison Park, 614 East Gorham Street, Madison
Cost: $20 per person, a fundraiser for the Daphne Zepos Teaching Award, purchase at meetmadisonandthedzta.eventbrite.com

Brazos Valley Farm Cheese Tasting with Texas Cheesemaker Marc Kuehl
Time: 6-7 pm
Location: Fromagination, 12 S. Carroll St., Madison
Cost: Free

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THURSDAY, AUGUST 1

Roelli Cheese Tasting with Wisconsin Cheesemaker Chris Roelli
Time: 1 pm
Location: Fromagination, 12 S. Carroll St., Madison
Cost: Free

Avalanche Cheese Company Cheese Tasting with Colorado Cheesemaker Wendy Mitchell
Time: 4-6 pm
Location: Fromagination, 12 S. Carroll St., Madison
Cost: Free

Alemar Cheese Tasting with Minnesota Cheesemaker Keith Adams
Time: 4-6 pm
Location: Metcalfe's Market, 726 N. Midvale Blvd., Madison
Cost: Free

Summer of Riesling Crawl
Time: 6:15 - 9 pm
Location: Fromagination, Fresco & Square Wine Company
Cost: $35 per person, purchase ticket at frescomadison.com/rieslingcrawl

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SATURDAY, AUGUST 3

Holland's Family Cheese Tasting
Time: 11 am - 2 pm
Location: Metcalfe's Market, 726 N. Midvale Blvd., Madison
Cost: Free

Beehive Cheese Tasting with Utah Co-Founder Jeanette Ford
Time: 11am - 3 pm
Location: Metcalfe's Market, 726 N. Midvale Blvd., Madison
Cost: Free

Martha's Pimento Cheese Tasting with Wisconsin Cheesemaker Martha Davis Kipcak
Time: Noon - 2 pm
Location: Metcalfe's Market, 726 N. Midvale Blvd., Madison
Cost: Free

Specialty Foods Tasting with Treats Bake Shop, Smoking Goose Meat, Quince & Apple, Lala's Nuts
Time: 11 am - 2 pm
Location: Fromagination, 12 S. Carroll St., Madison
Cost: Free

American Cheese Society Festival of Cheese - Taste 1,700 Cheeses!
Time: 7 - 9:30 pm
Location: Exhibition Hall, Monona Terrace, One John Nolan Drive, Madison WI
Cost: $55 per person, purchase at www.cheesesociety.org

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SUNDAY, AUGUST 4

American Cheese Society Cheese Sale
Time: 11 am - 2 pm
Location: Grand Terrace, Monona Terrace, One John Nolan Drive, Madison
Cost: Free, but bring cash to buy cheeses from the conference

Cheese Tasting and Reading from Cheesemonger, A Life on the Wedge, with author Gordon Edgar, America's Coolest Cheesemonger
Time: Noon
Location: Glorioso's Italian Market, 1011 East Brady St., Milwaukee
Cost: $35 per person, register at www.gloriosos.com

Looking forward to seeing all of my cheese friends this week in Madison! Let me know if you know of other events, and I'll add them to this list.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cheese Geek Volunteers Unite: ACS Is Coming to Town!

Cheese geeks unite: the American Cheese Society is coming to town, and we need your help!

On July 31 - August 4, more than 900 cheese nerds from around the world will gather in Madison, Wisconsin for the 30th annual American Cheese Society annual conference and cheese competition. While the event is open to the public, you must be an ACS member and pay fairly hefty fees to attend. That's why it's mostly a trade-oriented event.

So here's where you come in ... on Saturday, Aug. 3, the signature event of the conference takes place: behold The Festival of Cheese. That's when all - and we mean all - cheeses entered into competition are cut and sampled to an adoring crowd. Yes, that means more than 1,700 cheeses are in one room at one time. It's a cheese coma in the making.

Tickets to the Festival of Cheese are $55 each, but you can attend for FREE, simply by volunteering for a shift during the conference or judging competition. In addition to a Festival of Cheese pass, you also get the awesome conference "Cheese Geek" t-shirt pictured above and a meal during your shift.

Most of all, you get to hang out with cheese nerds for eight hours and glean as much cheese information as your mind will absorb. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities available: you can help cut and plate cheeses, help unload and sort trucks o' cheese, help prep tables for the Saturday Festival and more. It's your choice. Sign up here to volunteer online.

ACS Conference co-chairs Sara Hill, Bob Wills and I can't wait to welcome you to ACS this year and hope you'll consider volunteering. We look forward to seeing you there!