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Archive for November, 2009

The day after Thanksgiving, we took the tour to Dee’s Cheese N More in Mt. Horeb and to both Brennan’s locations in Madison. Below: The proprietors of Dee’s Cheese (including Dee, left) went to outlandish lengths to promote the book — thus, cow and cheese curd costumes, respectively. Further down: the authors hang out with some old friends in Mt. Horeb. Bottom: a witty sign at Brennan’s on University Ave. in Madison.

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The excellent Simple, Good, and Tasty website brings us the funniest (and possibly most flattering) lead sentence of anything yet written about the book:

James Norton and Becca Dilley are fast becoming the “Brangelina” of the Midwestern food scene – a smart, high powered couple whose presence is everywhere.

The whole story is a great read, and worth checking out.

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A wonderful story by Nancy Stohs in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel today — one of the most detailed and thoughtful looks yet at the book and our process.

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We’d fully intended to keep updating you daily on our tour progress, but we chucked that out the window somewhere around day 3.

Here, as a recap, are some of Becca’s wonderful photos, which help tell the story of our Wisconsin (and Chicago) tour for The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin.

At left is Larry of Larry’s Market in Brown Deer, near Milwaukee. Larry Ehlers and his family (including son Steve and daughter Patty) run one of the finest cheese shops it’s been our pleasure to set foot in. Madison’s Fromagination is (and will remain) our hometown gold standard, but the overall quality, Wisconsin friendliness, and depth of selection at Larry’s is absolutely on par. (See also: Nala’s, below.) At right is Master Cheesemaker Kerry Henning of Henning’s Wisconsin Cheese, who loaned his enthusiasm and vast cheese knowledge to a very convivial and productive book signing at Larry’s. It’s always a good sign when you’ve got to get the last books out of your car trunk because the shop itself has sold out…

I hope this collage gives you a sense of how much fun it’s been for us to tour cheese country. From upper left, clockwise: the authors, at Larry’s Market; our friends Laura and John digging into a massive plate of excellent mac and cheese and chili at Comet Cafe in Milwaukee; gourmet preserves purveyors Matt and Clare Stoner Fehsenfeld of Madison’s Quince and Apple at Larry’s Market; a small wedge of the selection at Larry’s; and the storefront at Marion Street Cheese Market in Chicago. Chicagoans apparently don’t connect with the book as viscerally as Wisconsinites do, but they love Wisconsin cheese — we sampled a ton of it (Raspberry Bellavitano by Sartori, Widmer’s cheddar, and Edelweiss Emmentaler among others) and sold pounds and pounds of it for the shop.

Master Cheesemaker Myron Olson (maker of amazing Baby Swiss and the only remaining maker of Limburger in the Americas, among other things) joined us at Brennan’s in Monroe. Olson’s Chalet Cheese Co-op is a remarkable operation — a marriage of old-school hand-made cheese and modern marketing and distribution. Olson is pictured here with our book research map and a piece of his award-winning Deppeler’s full cream Swiss cheese.

Nala’s Fromagerie in Green Bay was another wonderful discovery for us — like Larry’s and Fromagination, it’s a place where the knowledge and enthusiasm of the owners is apparent the second you glance at the cheese menu, which teems with insightful and intriguing offerings from around the world (and all over the state of Wisconsin).

At left are co-owners Alan Trick and Linda La Cluyse, who were gracious hosts, and plied us with tidbits of information (plus goudas and pancetta and farmstead cheeses…) We tried a goat-milk and potato Gouda called Dorothea that tasted like nothing we’d ever had before — imagine potatoes with sour cream and chives in cheese form. Wonderful! And despite our already overflowing cooler, we had to bring some along with us…

At center is Master Cheesemaker Roger Krohn (of Trega / Agropur), who took a break from smoking a salmon to stop over and say hello. Meeting cheesemakers like Roger was the best part of doing the book, and it’s been one of our favorite parts of the tour, too. At right is master beekeeper Doug Schulz (OK, we’ll concede that “master beekeeper” is not a formal designation, but Doug’s hand-crafted honey deserves special attention). He and his daughter Taylor stopped by to talk cheese and honey. We’ve been sharing his Wisconsin Natural Acres honey on the road — it pairs brilliantly with strong cheeses like blues.

Well, that’s the news for now. We’ll be in Mt. Horeb on Friday (10-noon at Dee’s Cheese and More), and at both Madison Brennan’s (from 2-4pm on Watts Road and 5-7pm on University Ave.) — Master Cheesemaker Steve Stettler of Decatur Dairy will join us for one or both events. Sunday at 4:30pm, we’ll be at Magers and Quinn in Minneapolis with food writer Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, whose own book (Drink This: Wine Made Simple) is a terrific gateway to the world of wine. France 44 will be providing cheese. After that, we take a break until Dec. 11 and 12 — we’ll be all over the Milwaukee area at that point. Check out our Tour Schedule for more details.

And to everyone who came out and visited, tried some cheese, and/or bought a book — thank you so much!

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We’ll be at the newly opened Dee’s Cheese N More (504 E. Main St., Mt. Horeb, WI) from 10am-noon on Friday, Nov. 27. We’re looking forward to it! That same day, we’ll be at both Brennan’s locations in Madison — 8210 Watts Rd. from 2-4pm, and 5533 University Ave. 5-7pm.

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Our friend and collaborator Jill Lewis has some kind words for the book over at her terrific blog du fromage, Cheese and Champagne. Check out the post, and check out her blog, too!

Jill also profiled Becca and myself in the Heavy Table — the Q&A gets into a lot of the book’s backstory, and is a great read.

Paul Everett Nelson, a library blogger and adjunct assistant professor (UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies) has posted a nice item about the book — looks like it’s in demand via the library system, which is always wonderful to hear.

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We’ve only been in Madison and on the second leg of our book tour for two days, but it feels as though a month has gone by. Between today (Friday) and yesterday, we’ve been on public radio with Joy Cardin, on Here and Now (Wisconsin Public Television, airs next Friday), at the Wisconsin Union, and at Fromagination on the capitol square.

The reception so far has been wonderful. We’d hoped Wisconsin would embrace The Master Cheesemakers with open arms and so far, so good — we had a crowd that was (I believe) in excess of 100 at the Wisconsin Union, master cheesemaker Gary Grossen stopped by and shared some stories with the crowd, and we sold out all the books we had available. As an author, there may be no sweeter moment than watching event organizers hustling to bring in stacks of extra chairs so that an overflow crowd can settle in. Here’s a shot from my phone’s camera:

And here’s another shot from our friend Eric Oehler, who was kind enough to attend the event and snap a photo:


Hard to overstate how great of a job was done by the Wisconsin Union Directorate committee that organized the event, the UW Press, and everyone else involved in spreading the word. Our Fromagination visit (left, thanks to Justin Woodward for the photo) was great, too — Ken, the store’s owner, set up a great master cheese spread, and we came within 2 or 3 books of selling him out, too.

The trip’s been a tremendous chance to reconnect with friends and family members, (and family members of our friends!). But we’ve also met dairy farmers, reconnected with a couple master cheesemakers and Center for Dairy Research folks, Jeanne Carpenter from the Cheese Underground and many others, to say nothing of the Wisconsin cheese fans who have been turning out for the tour, eager to chat, ask questions about cheese, have their books signed, and share stories about their dairy heritage.

A caller on Joy Cardin this morning shared his heartfelt belief that if the people overseas who hated America could just taste Wisconsin cheese, all our foreign policy problems would fade away. It sounds optimistic to me, but also pretty wonderful.

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