You can learn a lot about a state by looking at the back of its license plate. Florida’s says the “Sunshine Sate” Arizona is the “Grand Canyon State” and Texas is the “Lone Star State”. These phrases all have something to do with what that state is known for. This past weekend, I was back in Madison, not for a football game, but to explore the meaning of Wisconsin’s license plate.
Wisconsin’s license plates say “America’s Dairy Land”. With more than 12,000 dairy farms producing over 600 varieties of cheese that account for 26% of all cheese produced in the country, I would say the nickname is appropriate. The presence of cheese in Wisconsin is more than just facts and figures, it is tied into the culture of the residents who live there. If you have never been to Wisconsin, I am sure you have seen the cheese head hats worn at Packer’s games? When I was in Arizona, I didn’t see anyone carrying around models of the grand canyon. It is a known fact that Wisconsin produces some of the best, if not the best cheese cheese in the country. With such a great product, it only makes sense to me that your should wear your cheese head with pride!
This past weekend, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing board invited me along with several other members of the media to take part in a tour of Wisconsin Creameries and attend the Wisconsin Cheese Originals festival. During the three days that I was there, I learned more about cheese than I thought possible! I met many master cheese makers and sampled an endless number of different cheeses. I even developed a few new favorites! There was so much that I saw and learned during those three days that there is no way that I can put it into one post. Instead, I am splitting it up into 4 different posts. So to start, I am going to begin at the end of the trip and a trip to the Dane County Farmers Market.
I am from North Carolina, but spent my college years in Madison. During those four years, I fell in love with the Dane County Farmers Market. Here is a post showing what the market looks like in the spring
This is the largest producer only farmers market in the country. So what does that mean? Well it means that every stand has the person who produced the product there for you to meet. So say, you want to know who grew these potatoes.
Well the person you are buying from is the same person who grew them! You can ask them where they were grown, how they were grown and any suggestions they might have for cooking them. Really, you can ask them anything that you would want to know about the product! The market in the fall is filled with beautiful fall colors. Here is a visual tour of what you will see as you walk around the square.
The market is filled with beautiful fall colors and unique food items. Like the color orange? You would love these beautiful golden beets and pumpkins!
Like reds and yellows? These apples are perfect!
I am sure you are familiar with Brussels Sprouts, but have you ever purchased them by the stalk?
What about this beautiful arrangement?
Forget flowers, how about a beautiful Kale bouquet!
The market has much more than beautiful fall produce.
There is a wide range of baked goods and canned goods. Most importantly, there is a wide range of….
The Farmer’s market is where I was first exposed to the Wide World of Wisconsin cheeses. Throughout the market, there are about a dozen or so cheese makers who bring with them a wide range of cheeses. From 12 year cheddars to squeaky cheese curds, the wide range of Wisconsin’s cheese is on display! On Staurdays as a student, I would make it to the market and walk away with a small block to use throughout the next week. A week filled with an aged cheddar on my sandwich or a smoky gouda mixed in with my eggs. Those were good weeks.
During my cheese filled trip in Madison, I visited three different cheesemakers. Each with a different style and story to tell. Between the three of them, they tell a story of what cheese making means to the state of Wisconsin. Over the next three posts, I will be introducing them to you as well as sharing with you a little about their cheese (I couldn’t leave WI without bring a little cheese back with me).
Disclosure: The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board hosted me and covered my expenses while in Madison. They have not provided me with any financial compensation for the content on Taylor Takes a Taste. The recaps and posts about the trip are my own views and opinions.