This Summer I Eat Cheese

July 12, 2012 at 10:20 am

It used to be, come July, I entered the months of greek salads. I would eat any day and every day, some variation of cukes, tomatoes and accessories. It did or did not need cheese. It could be chopped; it could be sliced; it could be left in chunks. The salad satisfied our need to eat seasonal, and the salad satisfied our desire to eat light when hot.

This year, however, even making a salad seems too much work. I can barely be bothered to use the knife beyond slicing the cheese–using a tactic I learned ages ago from Loiusa Chu, always slice the cheese in the direction of the end of the wedge.

It did not quite start out that way this summer. As I’ve already posted, it’s been another year of Turkish breakfasts. But, see, I used to think that Turkish breakfasts were an excuse to eat salad in the morning, but I realized at some point, it really was an excuse to eat more cheese.  The above Turkish breakfast includes 3 types of local cheeses, including squeaky cheese curds.


Blame the bread. Good bread always features in Turkish breakfasts, and I always purchased a Red Hen baguette at the Oak Park Farmer’s Market for the meals. Unil I happened upon the baguettes carried by Marion Street Cheese Market. Red Hen’s baguette is decent, better than average, but it’s not fully adequate when you try something else. Something from Marion Street Cheese. What they’re selling is as good as any baguette around Chicagoland. And when I go to MSC for bread, I invariably walk out with cheese. And the more cheese I bought, the less need I had to make the other dishes around the cheese. What better served my needs for laziness?

If I learned that I could live on cheese alone, I also learned that best cheeses in the USA right now may come from Indiana. That’s two raw milk cheeses from Trader’s Point Creamery.  The fleur de la terre on the left and the brick street tomme on the right.  Trader’s Point brags about their grass-fed cows, and these cheeses, filled with complex elements, are really about the milk.  Really, these are like the best of French cheeses.

I surely eat so much cheese because we have so much great local cheese. The best cheese in the USA may come from Indiana, but Wisconsin competes very well. Wisconsin competes so well for many reasons. One great reason to eat Wisconsin cheese is that it’s not just cheddar and limburger. Cheesemakers like Hidden Springs and Carr Valley do excellent things with sheep’s milk, and Wisconsin’s goat dairy’s do outstanding work too. The other great reason to eat Wisconsin cheese is that it comes out well from farmstand operations like LeClare Farms and it comes out (almost) as well from mega operations like Montchevre. I made myself a tasting of Wisconsin goat cheese for lunch the other day. That’s Montchevre chevriotte, a camembert style cheese, and LeClare’s award winnig Evalon. Of course, only one has the interesting-ness from raw milk, but the camembert worked just fine.

I’m eating so much cheese, I ate that plate of Wisconsin cheese for lunch on the same day that I was invited to an event put on by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Cheese for lunch, and then several helpings of Wisconsin cheeses for dinner including a stunning new, washed rind (i.e., stinky) cheese from Hooks called stinky fottene is what I’m all about right now. Blogger Madame Fromage called the Hook’s cheese, a “gateway stinker.” With this special bit of stench, and offerings barely on the market like a collaboration between LeClare and Roelli called ziege zacke–I wish I took a picture to show you why it has its name–the tasting re-affirmed what I learned at lunch. Wisconsin cheeses come from all sizes of makers. That crumbly looking one in the bottom right is the latest from giant Sartori, called canella bellavitano.  It means that you can always find good, local cheeses.

You should be able to pick up Sartori cheeses at your grocery store. I’m eating so much cheese because I’m not just getting my food at grocery stores. I’ve found myself at Woodman’s* in Beloit recently, where there’s a good selection of mid-range Wisconsin cheeses, Brennan’s in Madison, which is a step up, with good prices on things like Holland Family Farm’s goudas, also was in my way recently, and Willy St. Co-op, whose wide range included locally made water-buffalo mozzerella, also called me in last week. How can I not eat so much cheese.

*Something Wisconsin does as well as cheese is beer, and while there are many places to get Wisconsin cheese, there is no better place to get Wisconsin beer than Woodman’s, where the six packs of New Glarus never shy above $8. I tweeted my pleasure at Woodman’s the other day, and it got a re-tweet from @woodmansfood, to the enormous pleasure of my daughter. Know how happy it made her? She made it her facebook status. That happy.


One Comment

  1. Kelly says:

    This post is brilliant – it makes me sad that people forget about Woodman’s – and cheese from Wisconsin… and local cheese in general. It’s so much better!

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