Road trip: Wisconsin cheese country
Some call it the Napa Valley of cheese, and rural Wisconsin’s Green County has the goods to earn the appellation, said Jay Jones in the Chicago Tribune. Though the number of local cheesemakers has fallen from 300 to a dozen over the past century, south-central Wisconsin remains “the destination of choice” for dairy devotees looking to indulge their cravings. Start in Monroe, “the gateway to cheese country,” and you’ll be instantly immersed in a culture where cheese is both art and livelihood.
The Alp & Dell Store at Roth CheeseMonroe There are other Monroe cheese shops to visit, but only one that can claim to be home to the reigning titleholder in the World Championship Cheese Contest. That’s Roth’s Gruyèrelike Grand Cru Surchoix, the first American winner since 1988, and you can buy it at factory prices, then watch more being made in viewing halls overlooking the factory floor. 657 2nd St., (608) 328-3355
Baumgartner’s Cheese Store & TavernMonroe • You just might run into cheese-factory workers chowing down on cheese-centric lunches or dinners at this hangout along downtown’s courthouse square. Try the Limburger on rye, because you’re in the only town in America that makes the notoriously stinky cheese. 1023 16th Ave., (608) 325-6157
New Glarus Hotel RestaurantNew Glarus • Start dinner with a fondue or raclette and move on to cheese pie with local sausage at this chalet-style landmark about 15 miles north of Monroe. You can stock up on Edelweiss cheeses at the first-floor cheese shop, run by the wife of the company’s cheese master. 100 6th Ave., (608) 527-5244