Chicago officially loves artisan cheese. With still six weeks until the second annual Cheesetopia festival, only 60 of 500 tickets remain. That means if you want to talk shop with 40 cheesemakers, sample their wares and buy their cheeses, you may want to act now, because this baby's going to sell out soon, and no tickets will be sold at the door.
Cheesetopia? Well, it's what happens when I spend a little time daydreaming and start bouncing event ideas off my husband while he's working on his laptop on the sofa next to me. Together, we come up with a one-day event that last year sold out in Milwaukee, is this year very close to selling out in Chicago, will move to Minneapolis in 2017, and after that, to a major city either east or west. After that, who knows?
Each year, our goal is to bring the best artisan and farmstead cheeses from the surrounding region to the heart of a different American city so urban folks can meet, greet, sample and purchase cheese from small batch artisan producers they otherwise might never have the chance to meet.
This year in Chicago on Sunday, April 10 from Noon to 4 p.m., attendees will ride one of the oldest, largest elevators in the city (it’s so big, it has a built-in bar & chandelier) to the top floor of the Bridgeport Art Center, home to the former Spiegel Catalog Warehouse. This historic, renovated building features a Skyline Loft with original timber construction, exposed brick, an unparalleled view of the Chicago skyline, and tables full of artisan cheeses to sample.
New this year, tickets include open bar with complimentary wine, beer and soda. Onsite parking is also included in ticket price. Tickets are $75 and are on sale by clicking here.
An absolute HUGE thanks to Roth Cheese, who stepped up this year to be Cheesetopia's Marquee Sponsor. The event would not be possible without their support. Thank you!!
So who all will be there? Well, so far, participating cheesemakers & artisans include:
Alemar Cheese Company, Mankato, MN – Cheesemaker Craig Hageman sampling Bent River Camembert, Blue Earth Brie & Good Thunder Washed Rind
Ames Farm Honey, Delano, MN – Artisans Josh King and Brian Fredericksen sampling Single Source Raw Honey & Blooming Prairie Creamed Raw Honey
Artisan Cheese Exchange, Sheboygan, WI – Kayla Immel sampling Deer Creek 1-Year, 3-Year, 5-Year, 7-Year, Vat 17, Fawn, Stag, Rattlesnake, Robin, Doe & Blue Jay
Afro Fusion Cuisine, St. Francis, WI – Sampling African & Jamaican Chutneys, Sauces, Marinades & Gourmet Sausages
Burnett Dairy Cooperative, Grantsburg, WI – Nicki Peterson sampling Wood River Creamery Alpha’s Morning Sun in various flavors, Burnett Dairy Pepperoni String Cheese & Burnett Dairy String Whips
Caprine Supreme, Black Creek, WI – Cheesemaker Todd Jaskolski debuting a new cow's milk cheese
Carr Valley Cheese, LaValle, WI – Beth Wyttenbach sampling Wildfire Blue, Porto Duet, Red Abbot, Billy Blue & Caso Bolo Mellage
Caves of Faribault, Faribault, MN – Cheesemaker Jacob Huffman sampling St. Pete’s Select Blue Cheese, Amagorg Gorgonzola, Fini Cave Aged Cheddar & St. Mary’s Grassfed Gouda
Cedar Grove Cheese, Plain, WI – Master Cheesemaker Bob Wills sampling 8-Year Organic Cheddar, Donatello, Quark & Double Cream Colby
Cesar’s Cheese, Random Lake, WI – Cheesemakers Cesar & Heydi Luis sampling La Pinta & Bandaged Cheddar
Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Waterloo, WI – Cheesemaker George Crave sampling Marinated Fresh Mozzarella, Better Cheddar Cheese Curds, Mascarpone & Farmers Rope
Creme de la Coulee Artisan Cheese, Madison, WI — Cheesemaker Bill Anderson sampling Saint Jenifer, Coulee Camembert, Leopold & Alpine Select
Emmi Roth USA, Monroe, WI – Cheesemaker Marc Druart sampling Roth’s Private Reserve, GranQueso, Prairie Sunset, Buttermilk Blue & Grand Cru
Fortune Fish & Gourmet, Bensenville, IL — James Croskey sampling Hook’s Little Boy Blue, Hook’s Truffle Cheddar, Hook’s Parmesan, Nordic Creamery Grumpy Goat, Nordic Creamery Cinnamon Butter & Nordic Creamery Cultured Butter
Hidden Springs Creamery, Westby, WI – Cheesemaker Brenda Jensen sampling Driftless in Honey, Basil & Natural flavors, Ocooch Mountain, Manchego, Feta, Cheddar & Bad Axe
Jacobs & Brichford Farmstead Cheese, Connersville, IN – Farmer Maize Jacobs-Brichford sampling Everton & Briana
LaClare Farms Specialties, Malone, WI – Cheesemaker Katie Fuhrmann sampling Chandoka, Evalon, Martone, Chevre, Raw Cheddar, Fondy Jack & Goat Cheddar
Landmark Creamery, Albany, WI – Cheesemakers Anna Landmark and Anna Thomas Bates sampling Anabasque, Petit Nuage & Pecora Nocciola
Lone Grazer Creamery, Minneapolis, MN – Cheesemaker Rueben Nilsson sampling Grazier’s Edge, Hansom Cab & Northeazy Tomme
Ludwig Farmstead Creamery, Fithian, IL – Cheesemaker Adrian Buff sampling Vermilion River Blue, Sangamon Double Cream, Kickapoo, Traditional Dutch Gouda, Jake’s Wheel, Jake’s Habanero, Jake’s Dutch Garden Herb, White Cheddar Cheese Curds, Herb Cheese Curds & Spicy Cheese Curds
Marieke Gouda, Thorp, WI – Cheesemaker Marieke Penterman sampling Marieke Mature Gouda, Truffle Gouda, Golden & Cumin Gouda
Martha’s Pimento Cheese, Milwaukee, WI – Cheesemaker Martha Davis Kipcak sampling Martha’s Pimento Cheese, Martha’s Pimento Cheese with Jalapeno, Martha’s Pimento Cheese with Chile de Arbol
Montchevre-Betin Inc, Belmont, WI – Cheesemaker Jean Rossard sampling Flavored Fresh Goat Cheeses, Bucheron Brie, Goat Cheddar & Boat Blue
Nduja Artisans Salumeria, Chicago, IL – Artisan Antonio Fiasche sampling Nduja, Salame di Manzo, Finocchiona, Nostrano & Cacciatorini Piccanti
Organic Valley, LaFarge, WI – Master Cheesemaker Carie Wagner sampling Kickapoo Blue & Grass Milk Sharp Cheddar
Pasture Pride Cheese, Cashton, WI – Mary Bess Michaletz sampling Juusto, Natural Valley Goat Cheeses, Farmhouse Kitchens Hand Rolled Butter & Butter Crunch
Ponderosa Farmstead Cheese, Kewaunee, WI - Sampling a variety of classic Wisconsin cheeses
Potter’s Crackers, Madison WI – Artisan Nancy Potter sampling Cranberry Hazelnut Crisps, Caramelized Onion Crakcers, Herbes de Provence Crackers & more
Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, Champaign, IL – Cheesemaker Leslie Cooperband sampling Chevre Frais, Moonglo, Little Bloom on the Prairie & Black Goat
Quince & Apple, Madison, WI -- Artisan Matt Stoner Fehsenfeld sampling an array of small batch preserves
Red Barn Family Farms, Appleton, WI – Owners Terry & Paula Homan sampling Cupola American Original Cheese, 5-Year Heritage Weis, Heritage White Cheddar, Edun New Zealand Style Raw Milk Cheddar & Red Barn’s newest Alpine-style cheese
Redhead Creamery, Brooten, MN – Cheesemaker Alise Sjostrom sampling Lucky Linda Aged Cheddar, Little Lucy Brie & North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster
Roelli Cheese, Shullsburg, WI – Master Cheesemaker Chris Roelli sampling Dunbarton Blue & Red Rock
SA Braai, Wauwatosa, WI – Artisan Matthew Devan sampling SA Braai Mild Chutney & SA Braai Sweet Chutney
Sartori Company, Plymouth, WI – Master Cheesemaker Pam Hodgson sampling Classic Montamore, SarVecchio Parmesan, Raspberry BellaVitano, Rosemary & Olive Oil Asiago & Limited Edition Extra-Aged Goat
Saxon Creamery, Cleveland, WI – Cheesemaker Tate Struve sampling Big Eds Gouda, Asiago Fresca, Snowfields Butterkase & Saxony Alpine
Smoking Goose Meatery, Indianapolis, IN – Kate Langdon sampling Saucisson Rouge, Pancetta Tesa, & Smoked Duck, Pear and Port Sausage.
Springside Cheese, Oconto Falls, WI – Cheesemakers Wayne & Nathan Hintz sampling Bandaged Cheddar, Krakow, Pantaleo Green Jack & Cheese Curds
Standard Market, Westmont, IL – Affineur David Rogers & Alyssa Stone sampling Cave Aged Chandoka by LaClare Farms, Cave Aged Tomme de Nena by Kenny’s Farmhouse & Cave Aged Pauline by Kenny’s Farmhouse
Treat Bake Shop, Milwaukee, WI – Artisan Sarah Marx Feldner sampling Spiced & Candied nuts all made by hand in small batches
Tulip Tree Creamery, Indianapolis, IN – Cheesemaker Fons Smits sampling Trillium, Foxglove, Tigerlily, Snapdragon, Dutchman’s Breeches, Fromage Frais, Haymaids, Larkspur & Beer Cheese
Uplands Cheese, Dodgeville, WI – Cheesemaker Andy Hatch sampling Pleasant Ridge Reserve
I'm super proud of this list of amazing artisan producers and can't wait to see them all in one room at one time. I hope you'll join me on April 10!
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
|Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board|
Each of the spring classes will be held on Tuesday nights and each revolves around a specific topic, including why Cheddar tastes different in Wisconsin, a look at the science and art of cheese rinds, and the terroir of Alpine style cheeses. You'll enjoy a tasting and storytelling of four artisan cheeses, as well as a complimentary blended drink, coffee or beverage made by the fine folks at Metcalfe’s West Café.
We'll meet in the spacious new cafe area at Metcalfe's West Towne at 7455 Mineral Point Road. Be sure to arrive at 6:45 pm to order your drink and get settled by 7 p.m. Classes are limited to 20 attendees. Each class costs $22 and seats must be reserved in advance at www.WisconsinCheeseOriginals.com
Here's the line-up:
Why Cheddar Here Tastes Different
Cheddar in Wisconsin comes in every size and age imaginable. But the difference in taste can be significant, and is attributable not only to the forms used or aging techniques, but to the region in which it was made. Ask any old timer with Cheddar still stuck in his teeth, and he’ll tell you Cheddar used to taste different from one local factory to the next. Today, thanks to modern science, distinct flavor differences are being recorded between Cheddar made in western Wisconsin’s Driftless Region and in eastern Wisconsin’s glaciated region. Discover four different Wisconsin Cheddars, from aged block Cheddar, to Bandaged Cheddar to Cheddar made in 22-pound “daisy” wheels, to Cheddar Blue.
Relishing the Rind
To eat or not to eat? ‘Tis the age-old question of cheese rinds. In this class, we'll explore different types of cheese rinds: from bloomy mold on Brie, to ash on surface ripened cheeses, to natural rinds on Alpine-style and washed rinds on stinky cheese. And of course, we’ll taste exquisite examples of each. Learn more about the science and art that cheesemakers must undertake to create a beautiful and edible rind.
Alpine Style Cheeses: The Taste of Terroir
Why do cheeses made in the mountains of France and Switzerland taste different than cheeses made elsewhere? Is it the alpage grasses, the techniques of making cheese, or hundreds of years of experience? We’ll taste two European Alpine cheeses and two Wisconsin Alpine-style cheeses and compare to see if cheesemakers in America’s Dairyland can match the terroir – or taste of place – of the Alps.
Tuesday, February 02, 2016
Just 500 tickets are available for Cheese Champion, an evening of world champion cheese tasting on Wednesday, March 9 at the Monona Terrace Grand Ballroom in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. All tickets are being sold in advance through Wisconsin Cheese Originals for $25 at www.worldchampioncheese.org. Get yours now to avoid being on the outside looking in at hundreds of people noshing on fabulous cheese.
In fact, with samples of at least 50 different cheeses from every corner of the globe, attendees are encouraged to pace themselves to avoid entering a cheese coma. Complimentary celebrity chef appetizers will also be served. And this being Wisconsin, you can count on at least two cash bars serving up craft beers and wines.
Cheese Champion is the signature event of the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest, held every two years in Madison. Ticket proceeds benefit the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research graduate student program, ensuring another generation of dairy scientists in America’s Dairyland. So basically, you get to eat your weight in rare cheese, watch a world class cheese competition, and contribute to the future success of cheesemakers everywhere. Win. Win. Win.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the Championship Round of Judging to start at 7 p.m. Come join me and a host of volunteers as we spend all day preparing tables and tables of fabulous cheese for you! Get your tickets early, because this event WILL sell out.