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Artisanal Cheeses from the Heartland

Wisconsin produces more cheese — and more award-winning cheese — than any other state. There are dozens of artisan cheesemakers throughout Wisconsin, and many of them are descendants of the original “cheeseheads” who brought Cheddar-making techniques from England.

We’re sampling three of Wisconsin’s best handmade, artisanal cheeses this week, and you’re going to love these crowd-pleasers. Three adjectives: beautiful, sumptuous, and lip-smacking!

On Wisconsin!

Roth Private Reserve Tastings Gourmet MarketRoth Private Reserve

This could be your favorite new cheese, but you won’t be alone: Roth’s Private Reserve won First Place in the American Cheese Society Awards in 2017.  Only small batches are made of this exceptional cheese.

Private Reserve is an American original with European echoes. Traditionally crafted in copper vats using the finest RBST-free milk in Wisconsin, Private Reserve is made in the heart of Wisconsin in an area known locally as Little Switzerland for its source of high-quality milk.

Think of it as a centerpiece on your cheeseboard. Or shave it on pizza. It’s a great all-around cheese to use in the same way you use Parmesan: on roasted vegetables, in pasta, in omelets, or in frittatas.

Origin: Wisconsin (Monroe)
Producer: Emmi Roth USA
Milk: Raw cow
Rennet type: Animal
Rind: Natural
Age: 6+ months
Look: Cream-colored paste
Feel: Hard with fine crystals and a firm texture
Smell: Sweet
Taste: Rich, robust, earthy, with honey and butterscotch notes
Pairs well with: Hazelnuts, almonds, fig jam, cured meats
Tastes good with: Hard apple cider, Riesling, Pinot Noir, a Provence-style rosé

Deer Cree 5 year reserve Tastings Gourmet MarketDeer Creek 5 Year Private Reserve

This extra-mature Cheddar has been recognized internationally for its superior aroma and taste. Gold winner of the International Cheese Awards 2014 and First Place winner at the American Cheese Society 2013, Deer Creek 5 Year Private Reserve is a truly outstanding cheese. As this Cheddar ages, its flavor, texture, and body change to be more complex. The flavor blossoms into a bold savoriness with a hint of bitterness at the end.

Its allure can be traced back to Deer Creek’s licensed cheese graders who hand-select vats that have retained the taste, texture, and quality of a highly revered Cheddar. Very few vats make it to this level.

Origin: Wisconsin
Producer: Deer Creek
Milk: Pasteurized cow
Rennet type: Vegetarian
Rind: None
Age: 5 years
Look: Orange cheese encased in black wax
Feel: Semi-firm
Smell: Sweet, creamy
Taste: Sharp, savory
Pairs well with: Almonds, Spanish peanuts, grapes, cured meats
Tastes good with: Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah; beer pairings include red Ales and Ambers

Billy Blue Tastings Gourmet MarketBilly Blue

Blue-cheese lovers, rejoice! Here is a blue with the all the bite and creaminess you crave. You will NOT be disappointed. And to think it’s domestic!

Billy Blue is one of Carr Valley Creamery’s standouts. Made from the milk of pasture-fed goats, Billy Blue is unusual and a rare find: most blues are made from cow’s milk. You’ll love its delightfully complex flavor profile with the piquancy from the blue and a tangy mellowness from the almost-white chèvre. The goat’s milk provides a nice contrast to the bite from the blue. It’s sweet and savory at the same time.

And it’s been recognized with awards around the world, not just in its own backyard. Most recently it won a Super Gold at the World Cheese Awards and First Place at the 2014 American Cheese Society Competition.

Not only will it look gorgeous on your cheeseboard, Billy Blue can be used in many recipes: on burgers, in salads, on mashed potatoes, or melted over roasted potatoes. Here are a couple recipes to try: Fall Billy Blue Salad and Billy Bison Burgers.

Origin: Wisconsin
Producer: Carr Valley
Milk: Pasteurized goat
Rennet type: Vegetarian
Rind: None
Age: 4 months
Look: Ivory colored paste with blue pockets and veins
Feel: Firm, creamy, slightly crumbly texture
Smell: Intense, tangy
Taste: Goaty, sweet-savory balance with a mellow finish. The blue gives it a lip-smacking bite.
Pairs well with: Nuts, honey, fruit
Tastes good with: Sparkling wines, big reds, Port
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