Around the Cheese Board with Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread and Wine


by Wisconsin Cheese


Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine is a neighborhood artisan cheese shop with three locations in downtown Chicago, Illinois. The shop specializes in domestic and international cheeses, freshly baked breads, and select wines. As the artisan and specialty food movement expands its popularity, Wisconsin Cheeses have been making quite a name for themselves, and people all over Chicago come to Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine seeking out Wisconsin Cheeses. Agela Abdullah, a Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine shop specialist, discusses the importance of the artisan cheese movement.

What are the most popular Wisconsin Cheeses at Pastoral Artisan Cheese?

One of our most popular Wisconsin Cheeses in the case is the Widmer 8-Year Cheddar from Widmer’s Cheese Cellars. With a fudgy texture and a sweet, nutty flavor, this annatto-dyed orange Cheddar is gone from the case in record speed. The Ader Käse Blue cheese from Seymour Dairy is very popular among Blue cheese lovers. Earthy and creamy with a well-balanced saltiness, this cheese is so delicious and approachable we put it on one of our most popular new sandwiches, the Blue Fig and Pig.


Why are people buying Wisconsin Cheese?

People buy cheese from Wisconsin for all sorts of reasons. We have cheeses from Wisconsin on some of our catering trays and gift box collections and have offered them in our cheese-of-the-month club. Since there are so many different types of cheese made in Wisconsin, you can find a cheese for any function or recipe. Fayette Creamery Raw Cheddar spread is perfect for topping a burger during grilling season. Upland’s Cheese Pleasant Ridge Reserve makes one of the best macaroni and cheese dishes ever.

How is the new artisan food trend affecting cheese purchases in Chicago?

The word “artisan,” like the word “organic,” is something that people are looking for now when they go shopping. Artisan cheese means that the cheese was made with minimum machine intervention, instead focusing on handcrafting the product. Cheesemakers who, a few years ago, were virtually unknown outside of their hometown are able to sell their cheeses to stores like ours as the customer demand keeps growing. People want “real food” and buying cheese from a shop that focuses on American artisan products is a fantastic way to satisfy that need.

How are the local food trends affecting cheese purchases in Chicago?

Being a locavore is one of the fastest growing trends in the food industry. People are more aware that the food they’re eating has a season and regionality to it. With such a proud and well-documented cheesemaking history behind it, we have locals and tourists alike who come to the shop specifically for a taste of Wisconsin Cheese.

What is your favorite Wisconsin Cheese?

Customers always ask me that question. But I have no concrete answer. It changes every day. Today I had a turkey sandwich with Widmer 8-Year Cheddar. So I suppose, today, my favorite is Cheddar. I am planning to grill next week and will probably get some Fayette Creamery Raw Cheddar spread. Having one favorite cheese wouldn’t be fair to all the other cheeses out there just waiting to be tasted.

Do you have a great Wisconsin Cheese and beer/wine pairing suggestion?

A great beer pairing would include the sweet, slightly spicy Seymour Dairy Ader Käse Blue cheese with the fruity, maltiness of Pere Jacques from Goose Island, a Chicago brewer of craft beer.

Any suggestion for non-Wisconsin residents looking for artisan Wisconsin Cheese?

Visit us at You can also find Wisconsin Cheeses at food festivals and cheese conferences around the country. The American Cheese Society holds a conference every year in a different city. On the last night of the conference they have the festival of cheese, where hundreds of cheeses, including quite a few from Wisconsin, are put out on display in the banquet hall. It’s a fantastic opportunity to taste old favorites and meet some new cheese friends. The next conference is scheduled for the end of August in Seattle, Washington.