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"Almost blue, almost doing things we used to do..."
I found myself humming this Elvis Costello gem while sampling a range of Wisconsin cheeses (and butter) this weekend. While I'm not a huge fan of overly pungent, blue- and green-veined cheeses, Wisconsin cheesemakers are taking classics and putting a blue spin on them. And the results, to my palate, are sumptuous.
My favorite of the bunch is Roelli's interpretation of an English farmstead acid crumbly cheese, named for Gravity Hill, which isn't far from Roelli's in Shullsburg. This crumbly, white, nutty cow's milk cheddar has a hint of tang and a nice firmness.
It's very similar to another satisfying cheddar blue from Roelli. The Dunbarton Blue is air cured in the cellar and also blends the nuttiness of an English cheddar with the piquant taste of a blue.
Also in the family is Roelli's Red Rock, a cheddar blue that will look more familiar to Wisconsinites, with its American-style yellow color, riven with earthy blue veins. Aging adds a depth and complexity that makes this a remarkable cheese.
Note that all three of these cheddars are subtly blue. Give them a try even if you think you don't like blue cheese. They'll come as a revelation.
Also check out Hook's Blue Paradise. It's a double cream blue, so it's smooth and creamy and rich, but, again, it's just a touch blue, so it's flavor is balanced, with a piquancy that is not at all overwhelming.
Now, Larry's Market Blue Cheese Bacon Butter, isn't a cheese and it doesn't come from a creamery, but, rather, is created right at Larry's Brown Deer location.
This light, creamy concoction blends unsalted butter, buttermilk blue cheese, chives and bits of Nueske's bacon, creating a versatile product that can be used as a spread with crackers or crostini, slathered atop a burger for extra tang, or even tossed with pasta as a creamy sauce.
While I've transitioned to butter, I'll take a moment to sing the praises of the Farmhouse Kitchens Hand Rolled Butter, from La Crosse. This "log" of direct-from-the-churn, hand-rolled butter comes wrapped, old style, in paper.
Unroll it to find a dense, sweet, creamy butter that it so rich in flavor, fans of industrially manufactured butter might only barely recognize it.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.