by Tenaya of Madame Fromage
This summer my brother and I designed a new Wisconsin Cheese drink, the Cheese Curd Bloody Mary.
He lives in Madison and I live in Philly, so every summer I fly out to visit him on his birthday and we make our annual sibling-trek to the Dane County Farmers’ Market, the largest outdoor farmers’ market in the country. There, I get my fix: fresh curds, right from the vat. Yeah, they’ve gotta be extra squeaky or fuhgeddabout it.
Cheese curds from the farmers’ market are salty and airy, and they give off a pleasant squeak when you chew them. Delightful. The trick is they have to be really freakin’, squeakin’ fresh, so look for the guy with the sign that reads “Fresh Curds, Made this Morning.” If they don’t give off high-pitched sounds when you bite down, chances are they were made the day before.
Now, eating curds in the morning can be a little daunting, which is just how our new cocktail came about. We biked home with our curds, eyed the bag (still dripping with whey), and decided we’d better fix some Bloody Marys to wash them down. Lucky for us, I’d picked up a bottle of Referent – artisanal horseradish vodka from Richmond, Wisconsin – as a birthday gift for my brother, so we set out to build the ultimate Wisconsin-spiked treat.
We like our Bloody Marys with Garnish, capital G. That’s where the curds come in – I can’t think of anything that goes better alongside pickles and celery. A bamboo skewer (forget the toothpick) gives you the structural support you need to custom-build an architectural garnish wonder. We added gherkins, pearl onions, whole basil leaves, lemon wedges, cherry tomatoes, pickled green tomatoes, and some herbed curds from Farmer John. Extraordinary. What a squeaky, slurpy treat.
I’ll never be able to drink a Pennsylvania Bloody Mary again.
Wisconsin Cheese Curd Bloody Mary
1 jigger Referent (horseradish-infused vodka)
1/2 cup tomato juice or V8
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Dash of Tobasco
Dash of celery salt, plus pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Garnish: Any combination of pickles, fresh veggies and really fresh cheese curds.
Fill a tumbler with ice. Then add ingredients as listed. Stir. Pour.