Last week, Brian and I trekked up to Wisconsin for a funeral. It was there that we celebrated the life of his aunt, and I met the rest of the fam.
Of course, just because it was a somber trip, did not mean that we wouldn’t be stopping before crossing the border for delicious, creamy, stinky, tasty Wisconsin-made cheese. Twice. If you know anything about me, you should know my love of cheese has even been a semi-paid gig…
If you aren’t a Midwesterner, I’m sorry. You just don’t get it. Wisconsin, as a state, may not be my favorite. They may not treat their teachers with all due respect. They may have the most hated football team in the Chicagoland area. They may have some really really mean police officers…who hate people from Illinois…and give out very expensive speeding tickets… But they’ve got one hell of a stock of cheese. And for that I thank the big man upstairs. Every. Single. Day…that and the fact that I live within driving distance of the world’s greatest (or at least biggest) cheese supply.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love imported cheese. I don’t discriminate. Ever. Except for Chimay. Because that cheese was not delicious at all. I love cheese from all over the country, and all over the world. Asking me to pick a favorite would be like asking a mom to pick her favorite child. It’s just wrong. (Don’t worry Trader Joe’s Chocolate Cheddar, you know Mommy loves you.)
But when I go to Wisconsin, I buy a TON of Wisconsin cheese. This was one of my biggest gripes with The Mars Cheese Castle (of its-own-highway-sign-fame). Lots of cheese that I can get at my local grocery store in Chicago. I don’t want to see brand names from around the world. I want to see Wisconsin-made cheese. I want to see an entire wall dedicated to Carr Valley. *drool* Additionally, when you hear of a cheese castle with a restaurant inside, you’re thinking to yourself, Oh God, Mecca. But really, it’s just a deli. A deli!
A few months ago, I wrote a less than stellar review of the castle, and the manager/bartender/son of the owner sent me a really nasty not-so-private-message about it. I thought about being a bitch and correcting his grammar, but instead decided to respond as politely (and privately) as I could. He offered to make my next visit spectacular. It was okay. I’ve been back a few times. They do have a decent (OK massive) selection of cheese, so I boosted my review after going in there with zero expectations of grandeur. (But *secretly* I’m still not a huge fan. The sample bins are always visible, but always empty! Don’t tease me with cheese samples! And though he finally thanked me for the review update, I’m still grudgin’ on the meanie message.)
I also checked out Bobby Nelson’s on this trip, considering they’re right next to each other. They had DELICIOUS MEAT. Like serious meat candy. They had a nice selection of cheeses, but the layout was not my fave. It was a tiny shop and everything was behind the counter…and again–limited on the sampling.
Just over the border, I still prefer Tim & Tom’s for all of my cheese needs. Brian wouldn’t allow 3 cheese stops in one trip (and by that I mean, Brian was exhausted and wearing a suit and didn’t have the foresight to bring sweat pants to change into like I did…), so we high-tailed it back to Illinois without stopping at my official favorite Southeast Wisconsin cheese mecca.
And so, friends. I leave you with this: IF you are ever in Wisconsin, and don’t
bring me back cheese get cheese, you will not live happily ever after you’re crazy.
If you haven’t already–Enter my free giveaway because it’s awesome and I said so.