Real American Cheese

Brick Cheese

Brick Cheese

Although I grew up eating stuff that was sold in the supermarket bearing the label “Brick” what we were eating really had nothing other than its name in common with the real thing. What I got was some sort of factory insta-cheese facsimile, shipped from factory to food store within days of making, rubbed with orange food coloring to replicate the traditional washed rind that’s supposed to be on the cheese.

So then, you might wonder, “What is real brick cheese anyway?”

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Fried Curds: The State Dish of Wisconsin

Cheese curds were one the major hits of the last year at the Roadhouse. Although they aren’t even on the menu, people actually get angry when we don’t have them in house. Which I guess you could class as a good problem. If you haven’t had them, let me invite you over for a taste. What I’ve experienced in the last six months is that pretty much everyone likes these things. Kids like ‘em and adults like ‘em. First-timers fall for them quickly; long time Zingerman’s food fanatics are into them as well. Even Europeans who come over to visit seem to have become big fans. The funny thing is that in contrast to all the poetry that Southerners muster up about sorghum, finding anyone who’s written or will even say anything much about cheese curds hasn’t been easy. In fact, in a year or so of reading and asking, I’ve basically uncovered next to nothing. What I have found is the smiles on the faces of the people who eat them—there’s a nice glow that they get, a sort of naturally happy look that you usually associate with all-American stuff like ice cream and apple pie. It shows up on the faces of first-timers, but also on those of native Wisconsinites who are amazed at just how good these particular fried cheese curds actually are. In this case, it’s not just about memories—these seem to be as good or often better than most folks from the Dairy state remember them.

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Greetings from Wisconsin’s World of Curd

Greetings from Wisconsin’s World of Curd

I don’t want anyone to think that I’m biased towards Wisconsin in some way. My mother did go to college in Madison and I certainly like the Dairy state. But I mean, hey, we’re in Michigan and we make our own cheese right here in town.

Three things in particular that get my passion going for Wisconsin cheese right now. Basically, the way I see it—or should I say, taste it? —Wisconsin’s got it coming, going and everything in between. Plus, it is the home of fried cheese curds, seemingly, almost everyone’s favorite food at the Roadhouse.

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