Monday, July 9, 2012

Cheese Tour Part 2 of 4: Chalet Cheese Co-op

We took off early on a beautiful June morning and headed to our first stop: Chalet Cheese Co-op in Monroe. Chalet is owned by farmers of 21 farms all from Green County and dates back to 1885. The creamery has 24 employees and eight master cheese makers.

Chalet is highly unique in that it is the only U.S. producer of Limburger cheese. Once upon a time, Limburger was a top 10 cheese. Roughly 3 to 4 million pounds were produced throughout the country annually. Today, only about 500,000 pounds are produced, and it seems to get a bad rep for being a stinky cheese.
There is no denying that it’s pungent, but have you tasted it? It’s quite good! We had the opportunity to try four different types, each aged a different amount of time. My favorite was the mildest, or youngest, of the bunch. We tried one of the more aged varieties with some strawberry jam on top. So good! 

Chalet is also known for its Swiss cheese varieties: baby Swiss, which is rich and creamy, and regular Swiss, which has more of a nutty flavor. Both were incredibly good. We also got to sample German-style brick cheese. Mmm …
But before the sampling, we got a thorough tour from Myron Olson, master cheese maker. He gave us the low-down on the creamery, what it takes to be a master cheese maker and the varieties of cheese Chalet produces. It was a great introduction to creameries and a great first stop.

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