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We’re travelling through the wonderful world of cheese in Door County, including the best of Wisconsin artisanal cheeses, and some locally made specialties. And along the way, we’ll meet a few local beverage experts who will help us discover the perfect pairings for our favorite cheeses. It’s not just “cheese and wine” anymore! Of course, wine is always fine, but you might be surprised at the variety of beverages that pair perfectly with cheese.
So, I saddled up the pony (Mustang) and went off in search of some cheese and drink “matches made in Door County heaven.” Isn’t it romantic?
First, I sat down with a local “Beer Guy” (ok, who isn’t a beer guy in Wisconsin? But this one makes a living at it), to talk about how the pairing of craft beer and artisanal cheese has grown in popularity in recent years. He explained that there are a number of reasons for the trend. At the heart of it, beer comes from the same place as cheese: grass. And, the carbonation in beer provides “scrubbing bubbles,” keeping the palate fresh as different cheeses are tasted.
My beer expert’s knack for taste and discerning palate delivered some remarkable beer and cheese pairings. A couple of the outstanding twosomes:
Snowfields butter kase style cheese from Saxon dairy and Little Sister Witbier. The creamy, super buttery flavor and texture of the Snowfields matched up beautifully with the Belgian style pilsner, which features notes of pepper and citrus.
Water Buffalo Cheddar and Polka King Porter. A brand new cheese from Cedar Grove Dairy, made with milk from the only water buffalo farm in Wisconsin. Notable for its tangy and earthy flavor, this cheddar harmonized perfectly with the dark brown porter and its notes of roasted chocolate and caramel.
Next, I dropped by to collaborate with a favorite bartender known for making delightful cocktails. This time, the quest was for a mixed drink to pair with cheese. As the popularity of craft cocktails has grown, nibbling cheese with a cocktail has become a growing trend.
My choice for the tasting cocktail? A brandy old fashioned, of course! This is Wisconsin, after all. When you think about it, cheese and cocktails are an integral part of the Wisconsin supper club tradition. Remember those lazy susan appetizer platters? They always included cheese. And olives. And pickles. And those cute little peppers.
This particular bartender looked more than a little skeptical when I told her my plan. “I can make you another drink, maybe a Bloody Mary? I don’t think cheese would taste good at all with an Old Fashioned.”
And finally, our resident soft drink expert weighed in on his favorite pairing. The cheese that goes with an ice cold cola? Mediterranean Fontina. “The Pizza Cheese” of course!
Wondering where you can go to sample all of these thirst-quenching local beverages and delicious cheeses? Visit the Food & Wine website where you’ll find all sorts of great information!
So, get out there and give it a try! Or make your own pairings and let us know what you discover. Bon Appetit!
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