“The artisan-cheese movement is one of the hottest segments of the quality-food world right now, with Wisconsin at the epicenter,” says Peter Kordon, lead cheesemonger at Schoolhouse Artisan Cheese in Door County, Wis. “With artisan cheeses, the nose and palate of the cheesemaker makes decisions, [not the] time schedule.”
To the dismay of Wisconsinites, here are five of the best-kept secrets in the state’s artisanal cheese arsenal:
Dante by the Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Cooperative
This semihard sheep’s-milk cheese has a mahogany rind, a golden interior, and a pastorally rich and nutty flavor.
Mobay by Carr Valley Cheese Co.
Layers of sweet golden sheep’s milk and tangy white goat’s milk are separated by grapevine ash in this delicate, rustic cheese.
“Fish Bait” Gabrielson Lake by LoveTree Farmstead
This raw cow’s-milk cheese is illegal to sell for human consumption (it’s aged fewer than 60 days), but local “fishermen” who buy it as bait report that it has a nutty, buttery flavor.
Emmentaler by Edelweiss Creamery
A true Wisconsin treasure, this Swiss-style cheese is made into 180-pound wheels and has an intoxicatingly sweet, nutty and sharp flavor.
“Reserve” Bandaged Cheddar by Bleu Mont Dairy
Made by the guru of artisan cheddar himself, Willi Lehner, who wraps the cave-aged, sharp cheddar in cheesecloth before its two-year aging process begins.