Friday, July 31, 2009

Trip to America's Dairyland

I spent the majority of my first 8 years on this planet living in Wisconsin, aka America's Dairyland. I'm pretty sure this is where I crossed the "invisible line" from heavy cheese-eater to cheese junkie. They say once you've crossed the line into full-blown addiction, you can never return to being a moderate user. Where cheese is concerned, this is true for me. Although I became a Californian at age 8 and immediately fell in love with the cheese produced here by "Happy Cows," I still return to my old haunt (namely Door County, WI) ostensibly to visit my family, but mostly to eat cheese. Specifically fresh cheddar cheese curds. There is no place on earth I know of where you can get curds like the ones in Wisconsin.

This year Noah accompanied me for the first time ever, and I was so excited for him to try the curds I've been telling him about for years, that I made my mom pull off the highway at Renard's cheese shop on our way home from the airport. When I spotted the bags of curds, I was as giddy and excited as, well, as an addict about to get her fix. Of course Noah wanted to look around the store and make price comparisons between their store and ours, but I was like "who cares? I got the goods, lets go find a quiet corner somewhere and devour this bag!" I'm not sure I can accurately describe the special experience imparted by these curds, but here goes: they have the smell of fresh milk, and by "fresh" I mean just came out of the cow seconds ago. They are slightly damp with a springy consistency to them, and they squeak when you chew them. Most importantly they have a fresh, slightly grassy, lactic flavor. And all of this is rolled into a small, light orange squiggly shaped piece of wonderfulness. Deee-licious!

In Door County where my family has a home, it's popular to cover the curds in batter and deep fry them. While this is quite tasty - naturally, since even a deep-fried running shoe would taste good in my book - I personally prefer the simple flavor of cheddar curds made fresh that morning.

One last note: even though I just went on a rant about how wonderful Wisconsin cheese curds are, and it's true, I don't want to sound as though we don't make great curds here in California. They're just different. At my store, I carry 3 varieties of white cheddar curds from local northern California dairy Spring Hill (plain curds, garlic curds, and Mike's Firehouse curds). If you are so inclined, stop by and we'll give you a sample. You won't be disappointed!

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