This past weekend I made a pilgrimage to my beloved Madison, where the UW-Madison dorms serve cheddar beer soup on a regular basis. Home to the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, which certifies master cheesemakers, Madison is a haven for cheese-loving locavores who want the freshest fromages available. Colleen and I were thrilled to be invited to join the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board’s fall cheese blogger tour, and we’ll have a full report on Wisconsin’s cheese industry after the tour in November, but consider today’s post a sneak preview of the cheesy goodness we’re due to explore. Today we focus on Fromagination.
You may recognize Fromagination’s name from the recent news that it has been named 2011 Outstanding Retailer by the National Specialty Food Association, and believe me, it deserves the honor. Opened two years ago by Ken Monteleone, the shop focuses on Wisconsin-made cheeses, with a case of other American artisanal cheeses and few imports thrown in for good measure. Now it could be because no other state offers such a variety of cheeses, but I’ve never come across a cheese shop that features so many cheeses from a single state. Fromagination gave me my first taste of Moody Blue and Ader Käse Reserve, and the cases were full of beautiful specimens from Hook’s, Widmer’s, Carr Valley, Saxon Homestead Creamery and C+C fave Uplands Cheese Company. I could have spent hours there pouring over the cheeses and accompaniments, many of which were also sourced from Wisconsin producers. But my family and friends were getting antsy, so I had to leave after 20 minutes of sampling, smelling and squealing over the new issue of Culture magazine (which features this blog in its latest issue!).
So Fromagination, I will be back. This time, I’ll be with other cheese-crazed people who share my obsession with cheese and need to examine every wedge in your shop. Better stock up on the samples.