How to build an award winning Wisconsin cheese board - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

How to build an award winning Wisconsin cheese board

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Daybreak is winning with Wisconsin Cheese. Tina Gilbertson, the Regional Program Manager of Wisconsin Dairy Council - Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, helped us make an award winning Wisconsin cheese board.

According to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Wisconsin Cheese wins more national and international cheese awards than any other state or country.

The states tradition of excellence in cheesemaking began more than 175 years ago, and cheesemakers are awarded for still using some of the same traditional methods mixed with new innovations.

Cheesemaking is a way of life in Wisconsin with many families and facilities making cheese for three of four generations. With our distinguished heritage of cheesemaking, Wisconsin continues to take top honors for styles ranging from the freshest cheese curds to 10-year-old wheels of cheddar, and from baby swiss to aged parmesan, to everything in between.

At the last World Cheese Championship, Wisconsin dominated with Emmi Roth USA winning the 2016 World Champion Award for their Roth Grand Cru Surchoix, a hard smear-ripened cheese. Andy Hatch of Upland Cheese in Dodgeville, made the finals showcasing his Extra Aged Pleasant Ridge Reserve, which won the hard cheese category and is only made between May and October.

Wisconsin also dominated the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest in 2017 with Master Cheesemaker Mike Matucheski's Satori Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano®.

Wisconsin continues to dominate cheese competitions and has earned a total of 5,406 cheese awards to date.

Cheesy Facts

  • Wisconsin host both the World Championship Cheese Contest and the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, alternating every year. The 2018 World Championship Cheese Contest® will be held at Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, March 6-8th.  It is the world's premier cheese, butter and yogurt competition. Wisconsin took home 118 total cheese awards (39.7%) at the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest.
  • More than 15 Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers won awards at the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest. The Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker program is the only one of its kind outside of Europe and provides buyers, unparalleled quality assurance, innovation and experience. Participants in the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker program must be active, licensed Wisconsin cheesemakers with at least 10 years' experience working at a plant which participates in the Quality Assurance Program and has been making the cheese variety they are seeking certification for at least 5 years.
  • Wisconsin makes 47% of the specialty cheese in the U.S. and you can enjoy showcasing these award winning cheeses in recipes, on cheese boards or with picks and bites.

Building an award winning Wisconsin Cheese Board

When creating a Wisconsin Cheese Board showcasing award winning Wisconsin Cheese make sure your accompaniments cover the following bases: Crunchy, sweet, spicy, salty, pickled and fresh.

For example, an assortment might include pistachios, jam, honey, assorted olives, pickled beets, and sliced radishes. Don't forget to throw in something unexpected such as plums, dark chocolate and roasted chickpeas.

Aesthetically, focus more on balance than on symmetry: Think less about the shapes or overall design you are going to make and more about your cheeses and accoutrement in terms of color. Make sure to alternate contrasting colors as you plate, rather than keeping all of the cheesy golds or rose-hued meats next to one another-using nuts, dried and fresh fruit and olives as borders and dividers to frame your cheeses and charcuterie will really make them pop!

Implement an upgrade or two: Olives always look better and stay glossy if they're given a quick toss in some olive oil; they taste even better if you warm them up a bit. The humble raisin gains juicy confidence from a 30-minute soak in sherry vinegar, chili flake, and a spoonful of whole-seed mustard. Dried figs, plums, apricots and dates can be soaked in whiskey, brandy or port and then baked at 375°F for 20-30 minutes for a decadent addition to your post-dinner cheese plate.

Create an illusion of bounty: You don't have to have excessive quantities of food to create a lush landscape. Use a space-stealing standby, such as a bunch of grapes, as a dual-purpose centerpiece and prop. An array of cheese triangles can stand up with its assistance, or a wedge of something soft and bloomy can lean casually against those cushiony orbs. Filling in the gaps between the main characters (that would be the cheese and charcuterie, of course) with tasty morsels takes away the negative space and makes a cheese board appear smorgasbord-like, and creating vertical vignettes (such as a stack of Potter's crisps) lends the platter some depth.

Featured Wisconsin Winning cheeses:

Sartori Black Pepper BellaVitano®

Sartori is a fourth-generation family owned and operated company located in Plymouth, Wisconsin.  Their Black Pepper BellaVitano® was named the best cheese in the United States of America, leading a group of Wisconsin cheeses that dominated the top places in the 2017 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest. Black Pepper BellaVitano® is a unique Cheddar-Parmesan inspired by Italian farmstead cow's cheese. It is a semi-hard cheese made with cow's milk and hand-coated with coarse-ground black pepper. The salty-spicy punch of the black pepper contrasts the rich, nutty, creaminess of the BellaVitano®.

About this cheese:

    Type: semi-hard

    Texture: creamy
    Rind: natural
    Color: pale yellow
    Flavor: creamy, nutty, salty, spicy
    Aroma: nutty, rich, spicy

Pair with:

    This artisan cheese tastes delicious with dried nuts, roast beef and crusty artisan bread.
    Wines: Chianti, Chardonnay, light red wine
    Beer: India Pale Ale, American Pale Ale, Trappist Style Beer

Serving Suggestions:

    Top roasted vegetables with Black Pepper BellaVitano®
    Add to hot pasta and butter
    Beefsteak tomatoes, guacamole and Black Pepper BellaVitano® on whole grain bread.

Marieke Penterman's Gouda Belegen

Using time-tested, Old World cheesemaking methods, licensed cheesemaker, Marieke Penterman of Thorp, Wisconsin along with her team, handcraft traditional Dutch Goudas. She converts farmstead-fresh cow's milk from her family farm into award-winning cheese. The cheese is cured on imported pine planks in cellars that are temperature and humidity-controlled. There are seven different types of Gouda cheese, categorized by age. Belegen is second in the spectrum in aging.

As the cheese ages, it becomes increasing firmer in texture and richer in flavor. Gouda is similar to Edam except it contains more milkfat, giving it a creamier texture and causes it to become more buttery with age.

About the cheese:

·       Aged 4-6 months

·       Family: Gouda

·       Semi-hard, artisan

·       Texture: crumbly, dense

·       Waxed rind

Pair with:

·       Peaches, melon, apricots and cherries

·       Apples or pears

·       Wine: Chardonnay

·       Beer: Amber or Red Ale

Serving Suggestions:

·       Shred and stir into baked pasta dishes

·       Dice and layer with apples in individual ramekins; sprinkle with sugar-cinnamon crumb mixture and bake

·       Julienne in a salad of blanched green beans, red bell pepper and sweet onion

·       Slice and melt over sliced tomatoes on whole wheat bread

·       Serve for breakfast with fresh fruit and warm, crusty bread

Pleasant Ridge Reserve

Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Cheese based in Dodgeville, Wisconsin is the most-awarded cheese in American history, having won Best of Show in the American Cheese Society's annual competition three times (2001, 2005 and 2010), and having also won the US Cheese Championships in 2003. It is the only cheese to have won Best of Show three times, and the only cheese to have ever won both of the major, national cheese competitions. As the cheese ages, the handcrafted cheese becomes more complex and concentrated. A small batch of the cheese is aged for over a year and sold as "Extra Aged" only in the fall and early winter. Modeled after Gruyere and Beaufort, this cheese is made from unpasteurized cow's milk. It is similar to other Alpine cheeses.

About this cheese:

·       Type: semi-hard, artisan

·       Texture: crystalline, firm and smooth

·       Rind: washed

·       Color: golden yellow

·       Flavor: creamy, full-flavored, grassy, nutty

·       Pleasant Ridge Reserve should be stored in a humid part of your refrigerator, such as the vegetable crisper.

·       Wrap the cheese in wax paper and then place it in an unsealed plastic bag or in a plastic container to prevent it from drying out. Before serving, bring the cheese out to room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Pair with:

·       Pleasant Ridge Reserve is often served as a table cheese, or on its own.

·       Excellent served with rosemary herb bread, pear slices, apple slices and dried cranberries

·       Outstanding melting cheese and a fantastic garnish for salads, soups, gratins and omelets.

·       The texture is semi-firm and its intense taste becomes more delightful with dry Champagnes, Chardonnays and sweet dessert wines.

·       Savory Pair: try pairing Pleasant Ridge Reserve with salami from your favorite charcuterie source, pickled white asparagus and roasted chanterelle mushrooms.

·       Sweet Pair: chocolate covered cherries

For recipes with Wisconsin cheese visit their website.

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