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Episode 14: Cheese Caves in Sotres de Cabrales, Spain
High up in the Picos de Europa mountains in the autonomous community of Asturias, lies the tiny parish of Sotres de Cabrales, Spain. The nearest school or grocery store is 45 minutes away, and the number of sheep and cows grazing on alpine pastures vastly exceeds the hamlet’s human population. There is a saying in the municipality of Cabrales that the higher the village, the better the cheese. And in Sotres de Cabrales, elevation 3,368 feet, there is a feeling that indeed, some of the best...
Episode 13: Starting from Scratch: Door Artisan Cheese Company
Imagine building a brand new artisan cheese factory. You’ve made your very first batch of cheese, and just days later, opened a shiny new retail store. It’s the beginning of a busy tourist season in Door County, Wisconsin. Customers are flowing in, eager to see a state-of-the art factory, cheese market, restaurant and wine counter. You’ve got cases filled with nearly a hundred different cheeses, charcuterie from around the world, and specialty food items for sale. But everyone wants one...
Episode 12 - 50 Years Over the Vat: Master Cheesemaker Sid Cook
n just a couple of months, Sid Cook, owner of Carr Valley Cheese in Wisconsin, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of earning his Wisconsin cheesemaker’s license. You might think that because he’s spent a lifetime over a cheese vat, he might be ready to retire. But you’d be wrong. When I sat down with Sid last week to talk cheese and mentioned that he was coming up on a half century of cheesemaking, at first he didn’t believe me. He took a second to do the math. And before he concluded...
Episode 10 - Setting Up Cheese in the Dark: Hook's Cheese
A few weeks ago, I called cheesemaker Tony Hook in Mineral Point with the idea of doing a story on what it was like to sell cheese at the largest producer-only farmer’s market in the nation. Every Saturday morning from April to November, about 170 stands pop up on the capital square in Madison, Wisconsin. All of the items for sale are grown, raised, and produced by the person behind each table. Tony told me he usually arrives by 4:45 a.m., so I told him I’d see him there. I’m not entirely...
Episode 10 - Seasonal Milk, Seasonal Cheese at Uplands
Located on scenic Highway 23 between Dodgeville and Spring Green, Wisconsin, Uplands Cheese is one of the best known farmstead cheese plants in the nation. Its flagship cheese, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, is the only cheese in America to ever win both the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest and take Best in Show – three different years – at the American Cheese Society Judging Competition. Uplands is run by business partners Scott Mericka and Andy Hatch. Scott is the herdsman and Andy is the...
Episode 9 - Wisconsin Women Cheesemakers
Of 1,200 licensed cheesemakers in Wisconsin, less than 60 are women. Three of them: Katie Fuhrmann at LaClare Farms, Anna Landmark of Landmark Creamery and Diana Murphy at Dreamfarm (pictured above from left to right), shared their stories with me and dozens of others at an event I hosted at the Wisconsin Historical Museum last week. Each of these three ladies came to cheese making from a different path with different goals, but they all share one opinion: cheddar is heavy.
Episode 7 - The Future of North Hendren Cooperative Dairy
This week, I visited small town Wisconsin and talked with two dairy farm families, both milking small herds of just 60 cows, and who for decades, have shipped their milk to the local cheese factory: North Hendren Cooperative Dairy, near Willard. There’s just one problem. In January, the buyer who purchased their blue cheese for years ended their contract. The folks at North Hendren went from making 2.2 million pounds of blue cheese last year to less than 75,000 pounds so far in 2017. And...
Episode 6 - Making Cheese in Copper Kettles
In a world full of stainless steel, just a handful of the world’s most iconic cheeses: Pamiggiano Reggiano in Italy, Emmental, Raclette and Gruyere in Switzerland, as well as French Comte, are all crafted in cheese vats made from copper. What difference does copper make in these cheeses? To find out, we tracked down one of the only American cheesemakers making cheese in a copper vat: Master Cheesemaker Bruce Workman at Edelweiss Creamery near Monticello, Wisconsin. We caught Bruce last...
Episode 5 - Candied Cheddar at Roelli Cheese
Cheddar cheese - Wisconsin’s claim to fame. Nearly half of all cheese plants in America’s Dairyland produce cheddar, whether it’s in huge, 640-pound commodity blocks destined to be cut up and sold in big box grocery stores, or in smaller - but still heavy - 40-pound blocks meant to be aged and sold in specialty shops. Some cheesemakers even craft cheddar in 22-pound waxed daisy wheels, or in smaller, 18-pound wheels wrapped in linen and then covered in lard and aged in a cellar for a year...
Episode 4 - Why You Need to Move to Wisconsin — Fresh, Squeaky Cheese Curds
Friday fish fries, Jell-O salads, beer and brats: these are all foods that scream Wisconsin. But is there anything that defines America’s Dairyland better than a squeaky, fresh cheese curd? Travel the state from north to south or east to west, and you’re likely to find half pound bags of fresh cheese curds on the counter of every gas station and grocery store between Madison and Minocqua. Of the state’s 129 cheese plants, at least 45 factories make and sell fresh squeaky cheese curds at...
Episode 3 - Visit the dairies of Red Barn Family Farms with Dr. Terry Homan
Today we visit with two Wisconsin dairy farmers, both milking herds of just 40 cows and each with dreams of passing them on to the next generation. We learn why they’ve joined forces with a company called Red Barn Family Farms, an organization started by a veterinarian nine years ago that’s rewarding small, family-owned farms for treating their cows right.
Episode 2 - Tour the underground Caves of Faribault with Jeff Jirik
We explore natural sandstone cheese aging caves with cheesemaker Jeff Jirik, the man who brought a Minnesota blue cheese factory back from the brink in 2001, after the previous owner closed and abandoned the caves to make cheese at a more modern facility. We'll also talk with Plant Manager Jill Ellingson and hear what it takes to make award-winning blue cheese.
Episode 1 - Meet Sartori Master Cheesemaker Mike Matucheski's future Replacement
What happens when a master cheesemaker retires? We find out by talking to Sartori’s Master Cheesemaker (and current U.S. Champion) Mike Matucheski. Mike's training his future replacement, and in a state full of third and fourth generation cheesemakers - the vast majority of whom are men - his replacement is a 34-year old woman.