Welcome to a world of exquisite flavors and artisan craftsmanship. In the picturesque Driftless region of southwestern Wisconsin, a haven for organic and small-batch cheese production, you’ll find a cheese experience like no other. From the rolling hills and valleys to the dedication of local cheesemakers, every bite of Driftless cheese tells a story of passion and terroir.
Step into the realm of local cheese, where tradition meets innovation and every slice is a tribute to farm-to-table excellence. With its proud heritage rooted in German and Scandinavian cheesemaking expertise, Wisconsin has long been renowned for its world-class cheese production. And nestled within this cheese-loving state lies the Driftless region, a hidden gem waiting to be explored.
From creamy organic cheeses to robust artisan creations, Driftless cheese captivates the palate with an array of flavors and textures. Take part in cheese tastings that unveil the essence of the region, and witness the meticulous craft that goes into each wheel. Whether you’re a Wisconsin cheese connoisseur or a curious food enthusiast, the Driftless region is your gateway to discovering the finest local cheese.
Join us on a journey through the flavors of Driftless cheese, as we delve into the diverse varieties, explore the terroir that shapes their taste, and celebrate the talented cheesemakers who bring these delightful creations to life. From the captivating flavors of Rush Creek Reserve to the aged magnificence of Hook’s 10-Year Cheddar, prepare to be amazed by the richness and complexity of Driftless cheese.
Indulge your senses and dive into the world of Driftless cheese, where every bite tells a story of heritage, expertise, and the true essence of Wisconsin’s farm-to-table tradition.
The Flavors of the Driftless Cheese Box
The Driftless Cheese Box offers a selection of Wisconsin’s best artisan cheeses. Indulge in the rich and diverse flavors of Driftless cheese with this curated collection that includes:
|Rush Creek Reserve
|A seasonal cult classic, this custardy soft cheese is wrapped in spruce, creating a unique and delightful flavor. Its creamy, buttery texture melts in your mouth.
|Pleasant Ridge Reserve
|Experience an award-winning cheese with a rich and salty taste. Made from the milk of grass-fed cows, this cheese embodies the flavors of the Driftless region.
|Hook’s 10-Year Cheddar
|Savor the excellence of a rare and aged cheddar that has been meticulously crafted for ten years. Its sharp, nutty flavor and crumbly texture are a true testament to quality and craftsmanship.
|Roelli’s Red Rock
|Discover the artistry of a natural-rinded cheddar with subtle blue cheese veining. This unique cheese offers a complex flavor profile that is both tangy and creamy.
For the perfect pairing, the Driftless Cheese Box also includes organic classic white crackers. These crisp and flavorful crackers enhance the taste of each cheese, adding a delightful crunch to your cheese tasting experience.
Immerse yourself in the delectable flavors of the Driftless region with this thoughtfully curated cheese box. Whether enjoyed on its own, paired with organic crackers, or incorporated into your favorite recipes, each cheese in the Driftless Cheese Box is a testament to the craftsmanship and dedication of Wisconsin’s finest cheesemakers.
The Terroir of the Driftless Region
The Driftless region of southwestern Wisconsin is renowned for its unique terroir, which contributes to the exceptional flavors of Driftless cheese. The combination of cold water streams and limestone bedrock creates an environment that enhances the taste of place, making Driftless cheese truly one-of-a-kind.
The natural landscape of the Driftless region plays a crucial role in shaping the flavor of the milk used in cheesemaking. The lush grasses and diverse flora in this pristine area provide a diverse and rich diet for the grazing cows that produce the milk. As a result, the milk has a distinct flavor profile that is truly representative of the region.
Additionally, the Driftless region’s abundance of limestone caves provides the perfect conditions for aging and ripening cheese. The caves offer stable temperatures and humidity levels, allowing cheesemakers to carefully age their cheese and develop complex flavors over time. This traditional aging process adds depth and character to the cheese, creating a unique taste experience.
The Taste of Place
The terroir of the Driftless region imparts a unique character to Driftless cheese, often described as a “taste of place.” The flavor profile of these artisanal cheeses reflects the region’s fertile soil, pure water sources, and vibrant ecosystem. Each bite of Driftless cheese is a sensory journey that connects you to the land, demonstrating the remarkable influence of terroir on the final product.
“Driftless cheese is a true reflection of the region’s terroir, capturing the essence of the Driftless landscape and the flavors it nurtures.” – Cheesemaker Quote
Aging Cheese in Limestone Caves
The use of limestone caves for aging cheese is a time-honored tradition in the Driftless region. These caves provide a natural and controlled environment for the cheesemaking process. The porous nature of limestone allows for a subtle exchange of gases, which contributes to the development of unique flavors and textures in the cheese. From the cool temperatures to the gentle airflow, every aspect of the cave environment contributes to the exceptional quality and taste of Driftless cheese.
“Aging our cheese in limestone caves allows us to create flavors that cannot be replicated elsewhere. It’s like a natural cheese cellar that imparts a beautiful richness and character to the cheese.” – Cheesemaker Quote
The Heritage of Driftless Cheesemaking
The Driftless region, located in southwestern Wisconsin, has a rich heritage of cheesemaking that dates back to the mid-19th century. This heritage was established by German and Scandinavian immigrants who brought their Old-World cheesemaking techniques and recipes to the area. Their expertise and passion for cheesemaking laid the foundation for the region’s reputation as a hub of artisanal cheese production.
These pioneering cheesemakers embraced the unique terroir of the Driftless region, leveraging the fertile land and pristine water sources to produce exceptional cheeses. They honed their craft through generations, passing down their knowledge and techniques within their families and fostering a culture of collaboration among the cheesemaking community.
One of the prominent families that exemplify this heritage of collaboration is the Roelli family. The Roellis, who have been in the cheesemaking business for several generations, have contributed significantly to the evolution and innovation of Driftless cheesemaking. Their commitment to exploring new flavors and experimenting with traditional recipes has resulted in a diverse range of artisan cheeses that continue to impress cheese enthusiasts.
The heritage of Driftless cheesemaking is a testament to the lasting impact of German and Scandinavian immigrants, whose dedication and expertise continue to shape the region’s cheese industry. Their legacy lives on through the collaboration and shared knowledge among the cheesemaking community, ensuring the production of high-quality and delicious cheeses that capture the essence of the Driftless region.
The Heritage of Driftless Cheesemaking
|Driftless region in southwestern Wisconsin
|German and Scandinavian immigrants
|Old-World cheesemaking techniques and recipes
|Generations of cheesemaking families
|Cultivation of a network of collaboration and experimentation
Driftless Cheese in the Culinary World
Driftless cheese plays a significant role in the culinary world, inspiring chefs to create unique and delicious dishes. Executive Chef Luke Zahm of the Driftless Café in Viroqua incorporates locally sourced cheeses, including Driftless cheese, into his menu to showcase the vibrant flavors of the region. From cheese plates featuring rotating artisanal cheeses to wood-fired pizzas topped with distinctive varieties, the café’s menu celebrates the culinary inspiration found in Driftless cheese.
At the Driftless Café, the focus is not just on the cheese itself, but also on the art of pairing it with complementary flavors. Chef Zahm expertly crafts cheese pairings that bring out the best in each cheese, elevating the taste experience for diners. Whether it’s a creamy Driftless cheese paired with a tangy chutney, or a slightly nutty variety served alongside crisp vegetables, the cheese pairings at the Driftless Café are designed to delight the palate.
“Driftless cheese provides an incredible canvas for culinary exploration. Its unique flavors and textures offer endless possibilities for creating memorable dishes.” – Executive Chef Luke Zahm
The café’s commitment to showcasing locally sourced ingredients extends beyond the cheese itself. Chef Zahm partners with a network of farmers, ensuring a menu that reflects the region’s bounty and highlights the farm-to-table charm of Driftless cheese. This dedication to supporting local producers not only elevates the quality of the dishes but also fosters a sustainable culinary ecosystem.
Take a look at a sample menu from the Driftless Café:
|A selection of artisanal cheeses, including Driftless cheese, paired with house-made preserves and organic crackers.
|A thin-crust pizza topped with seasonal ingredients and a variety of local cheeses, including Driftless cheese.
|A rustic open-faced sandwich featuring roasted vegetables, creamy Driftless cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.
|A juicy lamb burger topped with caramelized onions, melted Driftless cheese, and a dollop of tangy aioli.
|Ice Cream Sundae
|A sweet finale featuring house-made ice cream drizzled with local honey and sprinkled with crushed Driftless cheese brittle.
Whether you’re a cheese connoisseur or simply looking to expand your culinary horizons, the Driftless Café offers a menu that celebrates the versatility and quality of Driftless cheese. Each dish is crafted with care and creativity, providing a truly memorable dining experience infused with the flavors of the Driftless region.
Sheep Milk Cheese and Avocado Toast
Indulge in the unique and delicious combination of sheep milk cheese from the Driftless region and creamy avocado toast. Wisconsin cheesemaker Brenda Jensen’s Driftless cheeses have gained recognition at the esteemed World Championship Cheese Contest, making them the perfect addition to this mouthwatering dish.
The Firefly Avocado Toast has quickly become a favorite menu item at a local coffeehouse that prides itself on showcasing Wisconsin’s finest artisan cheeses. This delightful creation features two slices of Madison Sourdough bread, topped with fresh, creamy avocado and a generous amount of savory Driftless cheese.
Each bite of this delectable avocado toast delivers a harmonious blend of flavors. The velvety texture and nutty undertones of the Driftless sheep milk cheese perfectly complement the smoothness and richness of the avocado. It’s a perfect marriage of ingredients from the Driftless region, resulting in a truly delightful culinary experience.
Firefly Avocado Toast Recipe:
- Toast two slices of Madison Sourdough bread to your desired level of crunchiness.
- Slice a ripe avocado and spread it generously on the toast.
- Add a generous amount of crumbled Driftless sheep milk cheese on top of the avocado.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
- Optional: Enhance the flavor with a drizzle of olive oil or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Enjoy this delectable combination as a satisfying breakfast, a quick and nutritious lunch, or a flavorful snack any time of the day. The Firefly Avocado Toast perfectly captures the essence of Driftless cheese and elevates the classic avocado toast to new heights.
The Success of Hidden Springs Creamery
Hidden Springs Creamery, located near Westby in the Driftless region, has gained recognition for its exceptional sheep milk and mixed-milk cheeses. The creamery, owned by Brenda Jensen, has received over 80 awards for its cheeses, with Driftless being a perennial winner. Made from fresh sheep’s milk, Driftless cheese is prized for its creamy texture, lightness, and spreadability. The creamery offers various flavors, such as Cranberry, Honey Lavender, and Sundried Tomato, each of which has been recognized at the World Championship Cheese Contest.
|Plain, Cranberry, Honey Lavender, Sundried Tomato
|Ewe Calf to be KIDding
|Plain, Wild Morel & Leek, Lavender, Honey
The Dedication of Brenda Jensen
Brenda Jensen’s passion and unwavering commitment to her craft have propelled her to great success as a cheesemaker. As the proud owner of Hidden Springs Creamery, Brenda’s dedication and hard work are evident in the exceptional quality of her award-winning cheeses.
For the past 12 years, Brenda and her husband have poured their hearts and souls into nurturing their farm, ensuring the highest standards for their sheep milk. This relentless pursuit of excellence has paid off, with Hidden Springs Creamery becoming renowned for its outstanding artisanal cheeses.
At the heart of Brenda’s success lies her signature cheese, Driftless. This remarkable cheese embodies the culmination of years of dedication, skillful craftsmanship, and a deep understanding of the unique flavors that the Driftless region offers.
With each batch of Driftless cheese, Brenda showcases her expertise and passion for cheesemaking. The result is a cheese that captivates the senses with its creamy texture, delicate richness, and distinctive flavors.
The Award-Winning Cheese of Hidden Springs Creamery
Hidden Springs Creamery has garnered over 80 awards for its exceptional cheeses, and Driftless is a shining star among them. This remarkable cheese, made from fresh sheep’s milk, has consistently impressed judges and cheese connoisseurs alike.
The renowned World Championship Cheese Contest has recognized Hidden Springs Creamery’s dedication to excellence, consistently awarding their cheeses top honors. The accolades stand as a testament to Brenda’s unwavering commitment to producing cheeses of the highest quality.
“Our goal is to create cheeses that not only showcase the unique flavors of the Driftless region but also bring joy and delight to those who savor them. It is our dedication to our craft and love for what we do that fuels our pursuit of excellence.”
Brenda’s passion for cheesemaking extends beyond her own creamery, as she actively collaborates with other artisans and cheesemakers in the region. This spirit of cooperation and the sharing of knowledge reflects Brenda’s commitment to elevating the entire cheese industry in Wisconsin.
The journey of Brenda Jensen and Hidden Springs Creamery is a testament to the power of dedication and perseverance. Her unwavering commitment to producing exceptional cheeses has solidified her position as one of the best cheesemakers in Wisconsin.
Celebrating Driftless Cheese
Driftless cheese is a cause for celebration in the world of cheese enthusiasts. Whether enjoyed on its own or incorporated into creative dishes like avocado toast, Driftless cheese never fails to delight the taste buds. The distinct flavors, dedication of the cheesemakers, and the culinary inspirations it sparks make Driftless cheese truly special.
Driftless cheese’s farm-to-table charm is evident in every bite. Made with care and expertise in the Driftless region, this artisanal cheese reflects the unique terroir of the area, contributing to its success and popularity in the cheese world.
One delightful way to enjoy Driftless cheese is through cheese pairings. Pairing this cheese with complementary flavors creates a harmonious symphony for the palate. Whether it’s a mild and creamy Driftless cheese paired with crisp apple slices or a flavorful and aged variety paired with a robust red wine, the possibilities are endless.
Another popular way to celebrate Driftless cheese is through the ever-popular avocado toast. The combination of creamy avocado and the rich, flavorful Driftless cheese creates a delectable and satisfying bite. The smoothness of the avocado perfectly complements the distinct flavors of the cheese, making it a match made in culinary heaven.
Driftless cheese also serves as a culinary inspiration, encouraging creativity in the kitchen. From incorporating it into unique recipes to showcasing it on cheese boards along with other specialty cheeses, the versatility of Driftless cheese opens up a world of possibilities for culinary experimentation and exploration.
“Driftless cheese is a treasure trove of flavors and culinary opportunities. Its distinct characteristics and the passion of its makers make it a true joy to celebrate.” – Cheesy Lover magazine
Driftless Cheese Pairings
|Rush Creek Reserve
|Crusty bread, honey, and fresh fruit
|Pleasant Ridge Reserve
|Dried figs, toasted nuts, and a bold red wine
|Hook’s 10-Year Cheddar
|Dark chocolate and a glass of bourbon
|Roelli’s Red Rock
|Sliced salami, grainy mustard, and pickles
Celebrate the flavors, craftsmanship, and culinary inspiration of Driftless cheese. Whether you’re enjoying it on its own, pairing it with complementary flavors, or getting creative in the kitchen, Driftless cheese is sure to make any occasion special.
Exploring Driftless Cheese Flavors at Home
Calling all cheese lovers! If you’re a fan of Driftless cheese or looking to embark on a delicious cheese tasting adventure, there’s no better place to start than in the comfort of your own home. With a wide selection of delectable cheeses to choose from, you can indulge in the flavors of custardy soft cheese, rich and salty cheddars, and everything in between. The possibilities for cheese tasting and pairing are truly endless.
One way to elevate your at-home cheese experience is by creating a cheese board that features the exquisite flavors of Driftless cheese along with other specialty cheeses from Wisconsin. Arrange a beautiful assortment of cheeses on a wooden board, accompanied by a selection of crackers, fresh fruits, and perhaps some honey or jam for added sweetness. Each bite will be a delightful exploration of unique flavors and textures.
But why stop there? Take your love for Driftless cheese to new heights by incorporating it into delicious recipes. Whether it’s a mouthwatering mac and cheese, a savory cheese soufflé, or a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich, Driftless cheese will undoubtedly add a touch of artisanal perfection to your culinary creations. Explore the versatility and flavorful profile of this remarkable cheese as you try out different recipes and discover your new favorite dish.
What is Driftless cheese?
Driftless cheese refers to artisanal, organic cheese produced in the Driftless region of southwestern Wisconsin. It is known for its unique flavors and farm-to-table charm.
What cheeses are included in the Driftless Cheese Box?
The Driftless Cheese Box includes Rush Creek Reserve, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Hook’s 10-Year Cheddar, and Roelli’s Red Rock, along with organic classic white crackers for pairing.
How does the terroir of the Driftless region affect the flavor of Driftless cheese?
The Driftless region’s unique terroir, including cold water streams and limestone bedrock, contributes to the distinct flavors of Driftless cheese. The milk used in the cheese production benefits from the local landscape, resulting in complex flavors.
What is the heritage of Driftless cheesemaking?
Driftless cheesemaking has a long-standing heritage dating back to the arrival of German and Scandinavian immigrants in the mid-19th century. These immigrants brought their Old-World techniques and recipes, contributing to the area’s expertise in cheesemaking.
How is Driftless cheese used in the culinary world?
Driftless cheese inspires chefs to create unique and delicious dishes. It is featured on menus in various forms, such as cheese plates, wood-fired pizzas, and cheese pairings, showcasing its versatility and quality.
What role does Driftless cheese play in avocado toast?
Driftless cheese, particularly sheep milk cheese, adds a delicious twist to avocado toast. The creamy texture and flavors of Driftless cheese enhance the taste of this popular dish.
What makes Hidden Springs Creamery’s Driftless cheese exceptional?
Hidden Springs Creamery, located in the Driftless region, produces award-winning sheep milk and mixed-milk cheeses. The creamery’s dedication to quality and the use of fresh sheep’s milk contribute to the exceptional flavor and texture of their Driftless cheese.
How has Brenda Jensen contributed to the success of Driftless cheese?
Brenda Jensen, the owner of Hidden Springs Creamery, has spent years improving the quality of their sheep milk and producing award-winning cheeses, including the signature Driftless cheese. Her passion and dedication have made her one of the best cheesemakers in Wisconsin.
Why is Driftless cheese worth celebrating?
Driftless cheese delights cheese lovers with its distinct flavors, dedication of cheesemakers, and culinary inspirations. Its farm-to-table charm and unique terroir contribute to its popularity and success in the cheese world.
How can I explore Driftless cheese flavors at home?
You can enjoy Driftless cheese by creating a cheese board with a variety of cheeses, including Driftless cheese, and pairing them with other specialty cheeses from Wisconsin. Additionally, you can try recipes that feature Driftless cheese, allowing you to discover its versatility and deliciousness.