A Culinary Adventure, From Gardens and Markets to Restaurants and Home Kitchens
Jul 31, 2013
10:47 AMLocal Flavor
Starting today, the American Cheese Society sets up shop at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, inoculating us with the best in American-made specialty and artisan cheese culture. Hey, it’s hard not to be a little cheesy. In all seriousness, this is a not-to-be-missed event. From July 31 to August 3, the ACS is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary right here in Madison—and it’s going to be a party.
There are several opportunities for locals to get involved (aka eat cheese) during this event without purchasing a conference pass:
Members of the public can purchase tickets to the Festival of Cheese on Saturday, August 3, at Monona Terrace (7–9:30 p.m.). Guests can sample Judging & Competition cheeses alongside artisanal foods such as charcuterie, preserves, crackers and craft beer. Cheese grab bags will also be available for sale. Tickets cost $55.
Cheese lovers can also attend the annual Cheese Sale on Sunday, August 4, at Monona Terrace (11 a.m.–2 p.m.). The Cheese Sale is free and open to the public. Judging & Competition cheeses will be available to purchase at incredible prices, with all proceeds benefiting the nonprofit American Cheese Education Foundation.
Locals can also take part in volunteer opportunities throughout the conference. Volunteers receive an official volunteer T-shirt and complimentary ticket to the Festival of Cheese on Saturday, August 3. Contact Joanna Miller at (608) 692-3234 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The celebration of cheese spreads beyond Monona Terrace. Tenaya Darlington is the former features editor for Isthmus and the author of Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes and Pairings. Tenaya will sign copies of her book at a couple of events in conjunction with the ACS. Head to Osteria Papavero on Thursday, August 1, where seven predominantly Italian hunks (of cheese, that is) will be paired with a seven-course meal; $85 includes a copy of the book and beverage pairing. (Call 608-255-8376 for reservations.) On August 2, from 6–8 p.m., enjoy a wine and Wisconsin cheese pairing at Square Wine Co. ($15; call 608-819-6191). Or head to the Monona Terrace on August 3 from 10:15–10:45 a.m., where Darlington will be signing books.
Sometimes I like to celebrate cheese under wraps.
This is a grown-up version of the Whisker Sandwich, a creation my mom used to make to get my sister and me to eat sprouts. She grilled cheese, tomato slices and sprouts on bread. As we took a bite, the sprouts would stick out of our mouths like whiskers. My version uses all local Wisconsin ingredients, and takes her grilled cheese to new heights by replacing the tomato slice with a sweet/savory tomato jam, substituting radish microgreens for the alfalfa sprouts, and adding in local bacon and two Wisconsin cheeses—a sharp cheddar and a creamy, slightly aged, gouda. The result is still fun, but (sorry, Mom) a lot tastier! To reflect the addition of bacon, I named it The Bearded Pig.
RECIPE: The Bearded Pig
2 slices Scali bread (from Batch Bakehouse in Madison)
2 tbsp tomato jam (substitute tomato slice)
1/2 cup each grated 5-year sharp Cheddar (I used Hook’s), and 6–9-month aged Gouda (I used Marieke), mixed together.
Neuske’s or other bacon, cooked until crisp, then diced into 1/2-inch pieces
Turn a griddle on low heat. Spread the tomato jam on one piece of bread. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the jam. Generously layer microgreens and bacon pieces, and top with remaining cheese. Place bread slice over the cheese, and spread about 2 tsp of mayonnaise on outside of top slice. Grill sandwich, mayo side down, on low until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Spread mayo on the other side and flip to grill. Slice and serve.
Photo of the Bearded Pig sandwich by Otehlia Cassidy.