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Meat Sticks to Save Virginia Family Farms

Landcrafted Food is a new brand of smoked meat sticks offered by founders Gary Mitchell and Brantley Ivey, who are raising cattle in Grayson County, Virginia. They’ve been in the business of supplying fresh beef to Washington, D.C. restaurateurs for the past decade, and the new meat sticks, offered in two flavors: Original Smoked Beef Stick and Sweet Smoked Beef Stick, are a new venture in vertical integration of their grass-fed cattle farming operations.

They’re buying humanely-raised grass-fed cattle, for a premium price, from their neighboring small family farmers and turning the meat into premium meat snacks in a new facility on their farm. The premium prices they’re paying for beef that’s raised according to their quality standards are an important means of providing extra income to help those farmers stay afloat when commodity beef prices have slid to the low points of cyclic price swings. Visit them in booth 6215.

Mixed Milk Cheeses Offer Affordable Adventure #SFFS17

By Lorrie Baumann

A few cheesemakers at the Summer Fancy Food Show this year are offering new mixed milk cheeses that they hope will be a gateway for inexperienced consumers into artisanal cheeses from the milk of animals other than cows. These cheeses blend in flavors from the milk of goats and/or sheep to result in cheeses that have flavor notes that might be unfamiliar and interesting to neophyte cheese-lovers, but they’re combined with the reassuring familiarity of tastes from cow milk.

One of these is Landmark Creamery‘s new Switchgrass, a mixed cow and sheep milk cheese for which the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research collaborated on the recipe. The cheese has sweet, nutty characteristics like a sheep milk cheese, but because the cheese is made from cow milk as well, it can be offered at a retail price point in the lower $20s range rather than the price point dictated purely by the cost of sheep milk.

Landmark is a small Wisconsin creamery, just four years old, owned by Anna Thomas Bates and Anna Landmark, who are making and aging their cheeses in space belonging to other cheesemakers. The company has just launched a new Kickstarter campaign that the two Annas hope will produce the financing for new aging equipment and get them into their own aging space, Bates said. Landmark is exhibiting as part of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board’s booth, #450 at the Summer Fancy Food Show.

LaClare Farms cheesemaker Katie Fuhrmann is pursuing a similar idea with her GoCo, a fun cheddar cheese made with cow curds melded together with goat milk curds. She’s also offering Blueberry Merlot Chandoka, a holiday spread made from her Chandoka, which tied for a second place in the Brest of Show category at the 2015 American Cheese Society Competition & Judging. That version of Chandoka was aged by Standard Market, but LaClare Farms, owned by Fuhrmann’s parents, Larry and Clare Hedrich, now has enough aging space to allow Chandoka to stay home to be aged there. The Blueberry Merlot Chandoka is a deeply decadent cheese spread, soft enough to be dipped out of its container with a finger when it’s at room temperature. The Merlot helps give it a beautiful caramel color as well as a deep fruitiness that helps to round out the flavor of the blueberries. This cheese is rich enough to make a satisfying after-dinner dessert as well as a cocktail party offering. LaClare Farms is also exhibiting with the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board in booth #450.

If you’re lucky enough to have the chance to visit the booth during the Summer Fancy Food Show, be sure not to miss the flight of five Wisconsin cheddars that the WMMB has for you to try. These include Vat 17 World Cheddar from Deer Creek Cheese, Hook’s Triple Play-Extra Innings from Hook’s Cheese, Heritage Weis 5-Year Cheddar from Red Barn Family Farms, Red Rock from Roelli Cheese Haus and 8-Year Aged Cheddar from Widmer’s Cheese Cellars. Widmer’s Cheese Cellars is known for traditionally-made cheeses with assertive flavors, but Master Cheesemaker Joe Widmer also knows how to make a cheese that’s perfectly balanced so that these strong flavors comfort and satisfy. The Hook’s Triple Play is another example of these interesting mixed-milk cheeses, as it combines milk from cows, goats and sheep. Extra Innings is an extra-aged variety of the original Triple Play, which received a third-place award in the 2015 American Cheese Society contest. The Vat 17 World Cheddar was made from a mix of cheese cultures from the different styles of cheddar cheese that are made around the world, ending with a cheese that combines the flavors of a familiar American-style cheddar with the nuances of British cheddars. Tasting the entire flight at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board booth will give you a new appreciation of the variety of flavors that are possible from a cheese you thought you knew.

Wisconsin Cheese Named Official State Dairy Product

Wisconsin has long been synonymous with cheese, but the state legislature has made it official – Wisconsin cheese is now the state dairy product. Wisconsin cheese joins a list of prominent state symbols including the dairy cow, designated the state’s domestic animal in 1971, and milk, Wisconsin’s official state beverage since 1987.

For more than a century, Wisconsin has led the nation in cheese production, producing over three billion pounds of cheese annually. Wisconsin cheesemakers combine generations of tradition with cutting edge innovation to craft the finest cheese, and Wisconsin is the only place outside of Europe to offer a prestigious Master Cheesemaker certification for veteran cheesemakers who have been making cheese for 10 years or more. The state regularly takes home top honors for its world class cheeses including a recent historic sweep of the cheese industry’s three major competitions – the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, the American Cheese Society Competition and the World Championship Cheese Contest.

The designation was proposed by a group of fourth grade students at Mineral Point Elementary in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. It was signed into law by Governor Scott Walker at a special signing event at Mineral Point Elementary on June 1. WMMB also participated in the historic signing event and provided fresh squeaky Wisconsin cheese curds for the students to enjoy.

“We are so pleased to give Wisconsin cheese the recognition it deserves by declaring it the official state dairy product,” said Governor Scott Walker. “Today we celebrate the efforts of Wisconsin’s hard-working dairy farmers and cheesemakers who make us all proud to live in America’s Dairyland.”

“This is a victory for everyone in the Wisconsin dairy community to celebrate–from the dairy farmers who produce the highest quality milk to the third and fourth generation cheesemakers who have dedicated their lives to making the best cheese in the world,” said Suzanne Fanning, Vice President, National Product Communications, of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB). “We’d like to thank Mrs. Livia Doyle and the efforts of her fourth grade class at Mineral Point Elementary for proposing the idea and seeing it all the way to the governor’s desk! This is a wonderful way for kids to learn about the state government and see that they can make a difference.”

“The students are absolutely thrilled that their voices have been heard,” said Livia Doyle, fourth grade Teacher at Mineral Point Elementary School. “Being a part of this legislative process has been more meaningful and educational than ever imagined! The students have experienced firsthand what it means to have an idea and to share it with our representatives.”

To learn more about Wisconsin cheese visit EatWisconsinCheese.com.

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