Not only will the approach of August bring upon us the American Cheese Society’s annual event, this year titled, In a Dairy State of Mind, but it will also bring the release of the latest Wisconsin Local Foods Journal. The theme for 2014 is focused around Wisconsin Cheese and local cheesemakers, which is perfectly timed with the subsequent American Cheese Society festivities. We connected with Terese Allen, co-author of the journal, to find out more about the upcoming release and events.
The American Cheese Society Conference and Competition is being held in Madison, Wisconsin this year and we couldn’t be more excited. Do you have any Madison recommendations for visitors who would like to eat out at a venue that incorporates local produce and dairy?
I’ve got the perfect resource for that: REAP Food Group’s list of Buy Fresh, Buy Local restaurants. These are creative places in and around the city that are committed to using locally-grown ingredients, including Wisconsin’s best cheeses and other dairy specialties, of course. They run the gamut from diners and pizza parlors to cutting edge, upscale establishments. Whether you’re new to Madison or have lived here all your life, you literally cannot go wrong with this list in hand.
The 2014 Wisconsin Local Foods Journal is called the Cheese and Cheesemakers Edition – what do cheese lovers across the state have to look forward to reading?
It’s a beautiful and multi-functional book that can be used as a cookbook with dozens of cheese-focused recipes; an engagement calendar; a resource for selecting, storing and serving cheese; and a guide to what’s in season each month and the cheeses to pair with it. It offers a glossary of cheese terms, interviews with Wisconsin cheesemakers, and a special essay by Jeanne Carpenter, founder of Wisconsin Cheese Originals. Another feature is a full-color map and travel guide for locating cheese factories and cheese shops across the state.
Often, the first thing to come to visitors’ minds when you say “local Wisconsin food,” is visions of bratwurst and lots of Wisconsin Cheese. But we know that there is much more to the local food industry – which foods would you add to the core list of local Wisconsin foods? Are there certain ones that you see as unique to this state?
Oh, how I love this question, because that is pretty much my mission in life: to dispel the myth that Wisconsin food is only about brats and cheese. Indeed, while Wisconsin has a “plain Jane” or “meat and potatoes” image when it comes to food, nothing could be further from the truth. We are in fact a region of great diversity – of geography, climate, agriculture, industry, and ethnicity – and that diversity plays out in our foodways across the state. Wisconsin’s culinary culture includes cheese and bratwurst, but it also includes lutefisk, barbecued ribs, Danish kringle, Hmong egg rolls, hull corn soup, chicken booyah, Armenian madagh, barbacoa, Cornish pasties and on and on and on.
Here’s a few special Wisconsin ingredients to add to that “core” of brats and cheese:
- Fish (especially fish fry!)
- Cranberries, the state’s number one fruit
- Sweet corn, which is the inspiration for at least a dozen food festivals every year
- Maple syrup, which is 100 percent pure Wisconsin
- Morel mushrooms (my personal favorite)
- Sausages of all kinds
- Venison, which remains a beloved legacy in the state
- Apples, in endless varieties – talk about local flavor!
- And let’s not forget…Beer (obviously)
Where can readers purchase the 2014 Wisconsin Local Foods Journal?
The new Journal will be out just in time for the American Cheese Society Conference and will be for sale at the conference bookstore. You’ll also be able to find it at bookstores, cheese shops, co-ops and specialty food stores around the state. And folks can also order books, and find a list of sale locations, at www.wisconsinlocalfoodsjournal.com.
The Journal, co-authored by Joan Peterson, is supported by grants from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative and all profits benefit REAP Food Group’s food and sustainability programs.
Because Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland, home to hundreds of artisanal varieties of cheese, which varieties would compose your perfect cheese board? And any pairings that you’ve favored?
There are so many I love! But if I had to design a cheeseboard that would be worthy of a “last meal,” let’s say, it would include: Sartori’s BellaVitano Gold; Hook’s Paradise Blue; Widmer’s Brick; Uplands Cheese Company’s Pleasant Ridge Reserve; Butler Farms’ Mascarpone; Willi Lehner’s (of Bleu Mont Dairy) Bandaged Cheddar (or his new Grana, which is stunning); the Cumin Gouda from Holland Family Farms; Fantome Farm’s Chive Chevre; Farmer John’s Provolone.
Guess I’d better stop there…that’s a pretty big cheeseboard, isn’t it?
Are there any upcoming projects or books that you would like to inform us about?
My immediate project is to get the word out everywhere about the Wisconsin Local Journal. My co-author Joan Peterson and I want everyone to know how incredible lucky we are in Wisconsin to have great cheese and great local foods, and we want to support REAP programs that shorten the distance from farm to table, support small family farmers, and bring healthy, fair-minded foods to eaters in our region. Beyond that, Joan is busy leading tours to Turkey and other exciting food destinations, and I’m about to begin work on a local foods book that will incorporate memoir, history and recipes. Oh, and one other thing I’m excited about, my new column in Edible Door Magazine.
If a consumer would like to participate or assist in the benefit of REAP, where can they find more information?
Just go to the REAP website at www.reapfoodgroup.org. You can read more about the various ways REAP is building a healthful, just and sustainable food system in our region. We have programs in schools, restaurants, hospitals, and much much more. We’d love to have you join this important effort by becoming a member.