Friday, June 13, 2008

Where's The Cheese?

My parents visited last weekend. The excuse they used to visit (as if they really needed one) was that one of the local small towns was having a "cheese" festival. As festivals go, it was good. As cheese festivals go, it was lacking. We went to the festival on Friday and Saturday to mixed weather. While we were there, the weather was good, but there were torrential rains Saturday evening and Sunday. They had carnival rides, a beer tent, a petting zoo (with fawns!), live music, craft booths, a juggler and other local entertainment. What they didn't have was a plethora of cheese.

They had three events that were based around cheese. They had a cheese tasting tent (which we didn't get to this year and was only open for a short time on Saturday), a cheesecake contest and a cheese carver. Evidently the cheese carver, Troy Landwehr, is world renowned, even having been on the David Letterman show. He's been doing this for years and was carving a Harley Davidson when we were there. I'd love to know if that's how he makes his living, or if he has a day job too. I'm thinking maybe I could be a world champion carver of food too. I just have to find the right medium - radishes? rutabaga? ice cream? The possibilities are endless.

The only cheese for sale that we found was deep fried cheese curds at the concession stands. And that was it. No purveyors of local cheese. No purveyors of foreign cheese. No educational information about cheese. No "cheese head" souvenirs. No cheese making seminars. No cheese cloth. No cheese mascots. No cheese dip.

The concept of cheese in this state boggles my mind a bit. There is a new cheese shop opening up just a few miles from our house in a few weeks and when the local newspaper interviewed them they responded that they were going to focus on freshness. Because cheese was at its best when it was fresh. It would be on sale the same day that the manufacturer made it.


I'm sorry, but the best cheeses I ever had were not made in one day. They were aged, hard cheeses*. And I certainly did not measure the quality of a cheese by how squeaky it was against my teeth. To be fair, the fresh, squeaky cheese curds in this state are really, really good. And I did try some goat cheese curds here once, also very good. But I wish that people around here would actually realize that living in the dairy state and being a cheese head could be much more enjoyable than talking about squeaky cheese curds and wearing some stupid yellow triangle on your head.

Anyway, the eldest child had a great time riding the rides. I enjoyed watching the cheese carver and listening to the local bands. The youngest child enjoyed looking at the animals in the petting zoo and saying "cat," which is what she calls all four-legged mammals. It was good fun.

Sunday my mom painted the back entry way the same cheery yellow as the living room and painted the ceiling white. My dad fixed a door or two that needed planing, and I started scraping paint off the foyer walls. The foyer walls and ceiling had started to peel, so they need the full calcimine removal treatment. once the rain broke and my dad was done planing the door, we went outside and consolidated almost all of the firewood into one place and stacked it. I thought we were done, but Wednesday I found another pile that I had forgotten about.

Monday, I was back to work, but the parents stuck around to work (bless their souls). Mom scraped about two thirds of the foyer (which is a messy, miserable job) while my dad went around and fixed more doors, fixed our built-in ironing board, put in a hardwood door sill, and moved part of one of my three dirt piles. Tuesday the parents got up and headed out to Mackinac Island, which sounds like a great place to visit. Maybe we'll get there someday when the girls are older.

Thursday we got notification from the State Historical Society (already!) that they have approved the tax deduction for the electrical and sewer work. Now we can claim the money back on our taxes. We also got another two inches of rain, which means in one week we've gotten almost five inches of rain. That's nowhere near as much as the southern parts of the state, but we've got a lot of puddles around.

As if that wasn't enough, we also got our first box from our local CSA with mushrooms, chives, oregano, basil, mint, baby bok choy, baby garlic, rhubarb and popcorn. [Ms. Huis Herself says: Picture here!] If you don't know what a CSA is, spend some time looking into it. There are a lot of benefits to them. The link I've included offers the option to put in a zip code and it will find a CSA near you, if one exists. It might be too late to get a share in your local CSA. It depends on their policies.

*For the record the best cheeses I ever had were purchased at the English Market in Cork, Ireland. Hegarty's Cheddar, Coolea and Osaba Peio all come immediately to mind.

1 comment:

Pusher said...

I love me some fresh, squeaky cheese curds, and the day I took some home, dunked them in homemade beer batter and deep-fried them ranks way up there on my list of culinary highs, but I agree about the Sconnies. There are some really good cheeses made there — I'm really glad Surdyk's and Byerly's carry Carr Valley now, for example. But yeah, it seems like the vast majority are trying to hit the tourists who want a bag of fresh curd and that's it.

And a cheese festival without cheese? That's just sadistic and cruel. But I'm glad the rest of it was enjoyable despite the misnomer.