People often have guests visit, and want to have some fun, and good-tasting, food for that gathering.  In Wisconsin, it’s easy to find very good cheese to create a cheese platter for such an occasion.

Guests may know something about cheese – or nothing – but they’re usually willing to try those they’ve never tasted, especially when those cheeses are paired with interesting beers, wines or other tasty food “companions.”

Fromagination recently put together a great artisan cheese platter – including six Wisconsin cheeses, four companion foods, some charcuterie, and tapenade – on camera.  Our cheesemonger, Shannon, explains how to choose and arrange items on the platter.

We used several cheeses in this video: Martone from LaClare Farms is first, then Dill Havarti from Roth, then Three Chile Pepper Gouda from Roth, then Private Reserve from Roth, the GranQueso from Roth, then Buttermilk Blue Affinée from Roth.  See the link below for the list of other items!

We thank Emmi Roth USA for this video.

After you watch, the video, check out our Do-It-Yourself Artisan Cheese Platter…we make it easy to do at home.

Have a look how Shannon does it:

 


Friday, June 9, will be a great sampling day at Fromagination…for meat lovers.  From 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Nueske’s Meats will be offer samples of it Summer Sausage (made from beef and pork) and its Liver Pate.

Nueske’s is another local food producer that Fromagination is proud to feature along with our many Wisconsin artisan cheese producers.

Nueske’s has been based in Wittenberg, Wisconsin for more than 80 years.  (Wittenberg is in Shawano County, and northwest of Green Bay, southeast of Wausau.)  Wilhelm Nueske learned to smoke meat in Europe, and his family began to sell cured meats in northern Wisconsin in 1933.

We use Nueske’s smoked turkey in our Signature Sandwich and Pasture Harvest sandwich, and its ham in our Munster Mash sandwich.

Stop in Friday for lunch and meet Megan from Nueske’s…who can tell you all about Summer Sausage, and other tasty meats from up north.


Fromagination Cheesemonger Jeff recently helped Madison Gas & Electric Company (MG&E) name its newest flock of Peregrine Falcons.  This year the chicks  -who live “upstairs” from MG&E – are named for cheeses that are considered native, more or less, to Wisconsin.

Thanks to MG&E for helping to publicize preservation of a formerly endangered species.  The Peregrine Falcon became extinct in the eastern U.S. due to pesticide (DDT) use in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, but came off the Endangered Species List in 1999.

Jeff was happy to help explain the importance of these cheeses to Wisconsin’s cheese heritage.  See the new chicks video below…and the cheeses they’re named for below the video!

Fromagination sells some great Wisconsin versions of those very cheeses:


A great, organic annual event in Madison takes place on the longest day of the year.  Lucky for us, Fromagination has an outdoor patio with chairs and tables…and musicians on June 21.

Make Music Madison happens on a Wednesday this year, and we’re ready with a great line-up of local musicians who will serenade our cheese-loving clientele and passers-by.

But Make Music Day is not unique to Madison, or even the United States!  It began in France…like a lot of cheese we know about at Fromagination: http://www.makemusicday.org/

This year we have six acts, including a singer/songwriter, old time fiddle music, an six-string electric bassist, a jazz/blues trio, Irish/Scottish instrumental folk, and a soloist who’s performed at the American Folk Life Center.

Fromagination’s line-up for 2017:

  • Traditional Frequency – 10:00-11:00 a.m.
  • Jason Moon – 11:00-12 noon
  • Josh Cohen – 12 noon-1:30 p.m.
  • The No-Name Stringband – 1:30-2:30 p.m.
  • Dave Cofell – 2:30-4:00 p.m.
  • Polimorphic – 4:00-5:30 p.m.

Bringing Raclette to State Street

The May 11 Madison Night Market featured Fromagination’s raclette machines melting the Alpine cheese for hungry market attendees…until we sold out.  Well before 11:00 p.m, unfortunately.

The Night Market, kicked by Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, is a new feature for the downtown events calendar this summer.  And the food at the first Night Market was plentiful and varied.

We’ll follow that up Thursday, June 8, with the second Night Market.  Look for the Fromagination table near State and Gilman streets to get your Alpine cheese on!


People interested in cheese – and the artisan cheese culture that is developing quickly in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the midwestern U.S. – may look for bloggers to help inform them.

A recent list of top cheese blogs in the U.S. includes Fromagination!  We made #20 on the list that includes many reputable cheese shops across the nation.

Some of our favorites at Fromagination are:

  • Culture Magazine – a fine source for up-and-coming cheese news, and the tastier things associated with cheese
  • Madame Fromage – interesting and off-beat news, with a little general “culture” included
  • Cheese Underground – written by Wisconsin cheese afficionado extraordinaire, Jeanne Carpenter – a one-woman cheese promotion machine!

If you have a favorite cheese blog – or other information source – let us know about it.  Vive le fromage!


Jessica Sennett is a cheesemonger who has created the Cheese Grotto.  While Fromagination offers a special on any purchase of the Cheese Grotto during the month of May, we also want to let Jessica tell the story of how she devised this special humidor for your kitchen, refrigerator or dining table.

Below is the second part of our interview with Jessica:

Where does the design come from?

The origins of the design come from European Cheese Safes, which are boxes made of wood and screen panels.  This was a cheese storage method used before the advent of refrigeration.  My design is an elevated version of this.  I found that the original cheese safes have a tendency to dry out the cheeses due to too much air flow.  So I wanted to design something more highly functional as both an entertaining piece and a functional piece.  Hence my added humidity, condensation, and air flow controls, and the use of glass paneling for visual effect.

Why are the manufacturers in Virginia?

Manufacturing in the States is a challenge, but I was set on doing it.  The benefits are that you can make small quantities of product, and you have more say on the quality of what is being produced.  In an ideal world, our food and our home products would be made regionally.  Eco Supply Center, located in Richmond, Virginia, are very passionate about the Grotto and do an excellent job.  They also sell and source all sustainable materials for their projects.  The Grotto is made out of sustainable bamboo ply, which makes me even more proud to sell it.

Do you have a favorite Cheese Grotto story? (if so, what is it?)

The Cheese Grotto has been a long journey of almost 3 years of work, and it has been filled with many adventures.  I would say some of my favorite times have been working with the manufacturer.  Here’s a story  on my blog about my visit in January.

What’s the key to maintain the Grotto in top shape?

I often tell people to treat the Grotto like you’d treat a cast iron: wash it with hot water and a splash of distilled white vinegar or soap, and treat it with mineral oil ideally once a month.  It is a very sturdy piece designed to last a lifetime.

Why is it called a “grotto”?

A grotto is another word for a natural cheese cave, but it is also a word used for a religious shrine found in nature or in a garden.  I call the Grotto my “shrine to cheese,” so it is really quite fitting.


Jessica Sennett is a cheesemonger who has created the Cheese Grotto.  While Fromagination offers a special on any purchase of the Cheese Grotto during the month of May, we also want to let Jessica tell the story of how she devised this special humidor for your kitchen, refrigertor or dining table.

Below is the first part of our interview with Jessica:

Why are you interested in cheese?/what is your work background with cheese?

I started working in artisan cheese ten years ago at Cowgirl Creamery in San Francisco. When I worked there, I feel in love with the vast variety of flavors and textures of specialty cheeses.  Everyday, I was learning about a region of the world and their farming and dairy practices.  Working in the Ferry Building,  I was also immersed in the San Francisco culinary scene: I loved the passion of every person I met.  After working there for one year, I traveled to France to work on a couple small creameries.  It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.  I was hooked. I’ve often called myself a “cheese nomad,” as I’ve worked for multiple companies at this point: The Monteillet Fromagerie in Washington State, Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge, and Bedford Cheese Shop.  Finally, I was ready to branch out on my own.

How did you decide to make the Cheese Grotto?

The Cheese Grotto originated as a night doodle.  I had been living in NYC for one year, and was thinking about the fact that when I lived in an urban environment, I missed the rural cheese making life, and when I lived in a rural area, I missed the creative energy of the city.  So I was brainstorming on how to bring my rural experiences with handmade cheeses to my urban environment.  The Cheese Grotto reflects centuries of traditions of cheese preservation, but it became something way more than that when I decided I wanted it to be an all-inclusive storage solution for any aged variety of cheese.

What’s your favorite (current) cheese and why?

The oldest Swedish cheese in existence, WRÅNGEBÄCK.  The flavor is so full-bodied: it’s wild, fruity notes are balanced by its rich alpine paste. So good!

Soon…part 2!


One of Wisconsin’s most famous artisan cheeses will be front-and-center in the Fromagination shop on Saturday, May 13.

Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese, made in Dodgeville, Wisconsin by Uplands Cheese, will be offered in samples from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

An Alpine-style cheese that is made from cow milk derived from a dairy herd eating spring and summer grass in a very specific area, Pleasant Ridge possesses a unique flavor profile.

It is the only cheese that has won the Best in Show Award at both the American Cheese Society competition and the World Cheese Championship Contest.

Come in and try a Wisconsin cheese with a specific “terroir” (soil, climate, topography – environmental factors that give it specific flavors).