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Celebrating American Cheese Month on Good Day!! And.......Happy May Day!!

Updated: Apr 30


Thank you for following the QR trail! Glad to have you here! So glad to be celebrating American Cheese Month with you!


It seems like National Days, International Days, months, weeks are almost too numerous to mention, am I right?


But, this one is very special, in my humble opinion....and for all of us I hope?



Little backstory: From ACEF: "American Cheese Month is a grassroots celebration of North America’s delicious and diverse cheeses, and the farmers, cheesemakers, retailers, cheesemongers, and chefs who bring them to your table. Each American Cheese Month, we aim to:

  • Recognize and raise awareness of the quality and diversity of American cheeses

  • Support and promote great cheese, local foods, family farms, traditional methods, and sustainable production models"*


I would like to focus on the leaders in our industry for this presentation. In the US we have a long and storied history of Old World influence/heritage and New World shortish history and more recently, innovation. INNOVATION, focus on that word. It really does define the US.

Think about the recipes, activities, hobbies that you have learned from your past relatives. How have you changed them? Or how have others in your family changed them through the generations? That is INNOVATION. For better or for worse, I suppose :)

In short, (again, in my humble opinion) we the future of cheese.

North America has much on which to brag and hang our hats. As an example, in 2019 Rogue River Creamery in Oregon was presented with the honor of Best Cheese in the World for its Organic Rogue River Blue. This is not a small accomplishment! The competition that year was held in Bra, Italy which is a mecca for the celebration of cheese! The Italians were not happy with the outcome of the competition, ah well. I have had the blue cheese....it is a delicacy. Please ask your Cheesemonger if they can get it, or order it on the website: Rogue River. Yes, spendy, but just really a life changing experience.


In my previous appearances on TV, i have seen the fruits on my labor and the accomplishment of our Mission: to promote makers we believe in both their mission and product. SO THANKS TO ALL WHO HAVE SOUGHT OUT THESE CHEESES AND PURCHASED!!!!


Below is the information on the cheeses I hope to present. Some may not have made it into the segment (I tend to think I can do more than I actually can!!), but I wanted to give you all of the information on them regardless.

Enjoy!!

Let's go by producer....ALL masters of the trade regardless of time

 

Pioneers


Did you know??? Minnesota produced the first Blue Cheese in the Country????


St Pete's Select

Caves of Faribault made THE FIRST BLUE CHEESE IN THE US!!!!

The original cave was carved in the 1850s for Fleckenstein Brewing Co. founded by German immigrants Ernst & Gottfried Fleckenstein. Before modern-day refrigeration, beer caves were commonly used to store the beer at cooler temperatures. Fleckenstein operated here until 1919 when Prohibition was imposed. The caves did not reopen under Fleckenstein Brewing Co.

In the 1930s, a cheese maker by the name of Felix Frederiksen traveled to Minnesota in search of St. Peter Sandstone, geologically rare across the nation but abundant in Minnesota as a result of the last glacial age. Felix found the abandoned caves in Faribault and set up shop for making the first American Blue cheese. Before the 1930s, all of the Blue cheese consumed in the United States was imported from Europe. WWII put constraints on the importation, so Felix was in good business. Many more caves were hollowed between the 1930s and 1970s by his company Treasure Cave, Inc.

Treasure Cave was closed down at this location in the 1990s by a company that bought the caves and then moved production to a conventional cheese-making facility in another state.

Faribault Dairy Company, Inc. (now known as Caves of Faribault®) was founded in June 2001 to revitalize the caves after an eight-year dormancy. American-made AmaBlu® premium Blue cheese from the famous St. Peter Sandstone caves was back in the marketplace. AmaBlu® Gorgonzola and St. Pete's Select® super-premium Blue cheese came to follow, forming a trio of hand-made, cave-aged, internationally acclaimed Blue cheeses.(*)


Located in Arcata California in Humboldt County, this Northern California goats milk dairy was one of the first in the country. As with most goat dairies, it only started with a couple, as pets.......and then......

This was the story of Mary Keehn in the 1970's. Ah, the '70's.....when fast food became king. Fortunately, Mary, a self-proclaimed “serious hippie” and single mother of four, lived in a different world. In search of healthy milk for her children, Mary noticed a neighbor who had goats for brush control. She asked her neighbor if she could buy two of her goats and the neighbor replied with a grin, “Honey, if you can catch ‘em, you can have ‘em.” So a determined Mary went out with grain each day and eventually lured her first two goats: Esmeralda and Hazel. Those two goats turned to four and pretty soon Mary had, well, more. A lot of goats means a lot of milk, so Mary tried her hand at making cheese.(*)

And we are all the better for it! Our cheese today, Humboldt Fog, is one of my personal favorite cheeses. I dream of it. Which makes sense as it is said that this cheese came to Mary in a dream. She saw this beautiful cheese with the ash line floating through the middle representing the fog that pervades Humboldt County.


 

More Recent Stars


Add a whole lot of personality to over 40 years of cheese industry experience and you’ll get Chris Gentine, self proclaimed "cheese hotrodder". Since starting his career in cheese at age 14, Chris worked his way up to developing Deer Creek. One of the main focuses of the brand is consistency of quality. In Wisconsin, this is ensured by a Wisconsin Licensed Cheese Grader, a professional who is licensed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. 



Chris has been a licensed cheese grader since 1997. A Wisconsin grading license is a

prestigious honor—Wisconsin is the only one in the USA to provide those credentials. Under his wing, Deer Creek’s resident artist, Brand Manager, and Chris’ daughter, Sophie, apprenticed and obtained a license of her own to continue our passion for sharing the simple pleasure of exceptional cheese


Chris strives to showcase some of the best of what The Dairy State has to offer by blending traditional, sustainable cheesemaking methods with a unique cocktail of cultures and ingredients, a rigorous grading program, and a twist of whimsy. With the help of his family and a close-knit team of employees, Chris continuously brings award-winning, characterful, and creative cheeses to the marketplace. (*)


The cheeses are named after Chris' favorite childhood book by Patricia Scary, The Golden Story Book of River Bend. His daughter is the Artist that designs the labels.

Our Cheeses today are The Robin and The MoonRabbit.


The Robin is the quintessential Colby Cheese. Colby is a Wisconsin original cheese. The

origin story of Colby takes us back to the year 1875, right outside the city of Colby, Wisconsin. Nestled among acres of farmland and the close-knit communities surrounding Colby, Ambrose Steinwand and his family operated a small cheese factory where they made around 100 pounds of cheese a day—mostly cheddar. For the full story of Colby and it's production, check out this website: Colby Cheese


The MoonRabbit.....wow, such an interesting cheese!! Deer Creek’s The MoonRabbit is proof that the moon is truly made of green cheese. They took their cured, sweet finish Cheddar (produced by Hennings) and bathed it in Green Chartreuse liqueur. The Chartreuse adds a delicate herbal bouquet with hints of cloves, citrus, rosemary, and thyme that beautifully complements the cheese’s creaminess while imparting a light green hue. This special cheese comes in a 22 lb. daisy wheel wrapped in chartreuse colored cryovac for a unique and unforgettable presentation.(*)


Please check out the website for more information on the company and where to purchase the cheeses. Deer Creek




Honey Clover from Marieke Gouda   We can't say enough good things about this producer, their mission and the product. It all is simply glorious! Please read the link , you will be in love too. Marieke's facility in Thorp Wisconsin is a fantastic weekend destination! It is a Farmstead Creamery which means they have the farm with the cows on the same site as the creamery. The Creamery has viewing windows so you can watch the cheese being made and the aging rooms. Cafe' Dutchess is located within and serves up some lovely ice cream, grilled cheese sandwiches and other cheese-centric delights! Marieke Gouda is one of our top domestic and international award winners in the US, she is a force to be reckoned with!! Marieke is a licensed Cheesemaker, she is projected to become a Master Cheesemaker in 2025


 

Lookout!!

Alemar Cheese Company*

Alemar is an urban creamery, located in The Food Building in Minneapolis. The Alemar Cheese story begins with founder Keith Adams, a native of Davis, California.

Using gently pasteurized milk from grass-fed cows at a farm 40 miles away, Keith in 2008 launched Alemar (named for his daughters Alexandra and Mariel) and its sole product, the Camembert-inspired Bent River. In 2021 Keith and Kieran Folliard (Food Building founder) brought on Head Cheesemaker Charlotte Serino.

Charlotte is quite simply upping Alemar’s game. She graduated from UW-Madison in Wisconsin, went on to study food science and she has extensive experience making and selling artisan cheese. She’s mongered at a local favorite gourmet grocery store (Lund’s and Byerly’s) and a Multi-National (Whole Foods Market). Charlotte also has farmstead experience making many varieties of Goat’s milk cheeses prior to joining the Alemar Team. Her precision and thoughtfulness brings new light to Alemar’s production.

Charlotte was a suspect in our cheesy murder mystery events we have had at Ambi Wine Bar!

 

OUR UPCOMING EVENTS:

Marigold on May 15th at 6:30pm

Taste Makers at the Arboretum on June 22nd


(*) from the website

Cheeses were bought from the producers website or Lund's and Byerly's



 

And, if you read to the end of this post, you will be graced with a bit of knowledge that is NOT commonly held among folks:


Wisconsin is the only place outside of Switzerland that REQUIRES a license to make cheese.


 

Star (*) indicates that information was taken from the website



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