Many of our favorite foods in North America revolve around cheese, whether we’re talking about macaroni and cheese or grilled cheese sandwiches or the ever-popular cheesecake.
However, most of us haven’t tasted the midwest (mainly Wisconsin and Minnesota) specialty–fried cheese curds.
I love fried cheese curds, having discovered them back in the ’90s in Eagle River, Wisconsin, at the Snowmobile World Championships. Used to the standard fare of hot dogs at the race track, one bite and I was hooked on these deep fried morsels!
What are cheese curds?
Cheese curds, like other cheeses, come from curdled milk. The curds, often called squeaky cheese, are the solid part–but don’t confuse them with cottage cheese. Curds are larger and have a rubbery texture.
Wisconsin is the top cheese producing state, producing more than 2.5 billion pounds of cheese each year, so it’s no wonder that’s where you’ll find the best deep fried cheese curds.
Here’s a video from Pierce County in Wisconsin, that gives you an insider view of cheese curd production:
Anglers Bar & Grill in Hayward
While I’ve traveled a lot in Wisconsin, the things I’ve done all revolved around snowmobiles. So, to finish off June last week, I headed off to explore some of Wisconsin’s many other offerings. Fried cheese curds, however, were still at the top of my must-find list when I hit Hayward!
So, first stop: Anglers Bar and Grill in Hayward. Pulling up a chair on the patio that faced the main street in this historic little town, I ordered a nice cold lemonade and a plate of cheese curds before I even looked at the menu.
Made of white cheddar and fried to a nice golden brown, they were delicious with the ranch dressing dip!
Sawmill Saloon in Seely
The great thing about visiting Wisconsin is that like Saskatchewan (where I’m from), it’s made up of a number of small communities–each with its own character and charm. Seely, my next stop, was situated between the larger towns of Hayward and Cable, on the scenic Namekagon River.
While there’s lots to see at the Sawmill Saloon, my priority was lunch–fried cheese curds along with another local dish, wild rice soup. The cheese curds were perfect, deep fried to perfection without any lingering oily feel (they’re finger foods of course) or taste.
Once I’d lunched I went to tour the Moose Lips Java Joint and the Lenroot Lodge–which, like the Sawmill Saloon, is situated right on one of the area’s main snowmobile trails (Note to self–plan a winter trip back to the Wisconsin Northwoods!).
Luckily, Pete Thoreson, a local artisan with his Thoreson Log Works shop situated right beside the Sawmill Saloon, was hard at work with his chainsaw too. I could have watched this artist work for hours!
Garmish USA Resort just outside Cable
My group started out in the lounge, where I hovered around the large stone fireplace, relaxing and talking about the day’s adventures. And of course, there were the appetizers: cheese curds, mozzarella sticks, chicken drummies, and cod strips. These cheese curds were a little different, with a uniform size instead of being random-sized pieces, and a very light coating.
The taste was perfect, so with such delicious starters, it was a good thing we waited awhile to head to the restaurant for the main course.
The Garmish Inn Restaurant seats 80 people under the room’s vaulted ceilings and varnished timbers. My timing had been perfect, as I was able to watch the sun set over Lake Namakagon through the large windows, bringing a memorable trip to a picturesque closing.
Visit These Wisconsin Restaurants
Anglers Bar and Grill in Hayward – http://anglersbarandgrill.com/
Sawmill Saloon, Seely – http://www.seeleywis.com/saloon.htm
Garmish Inn Restaurant at the Garmish USA Resort in Cable – http://garmischresort.com/
Take Part in a Wisconsin Cheese Curd Festival
Ellsworth Cheese Curd Festival or “Big Cheesy” – http://www.ellsworthchamber.com/cheese-curd-festival.html – held annually in June
Second Annual Curdfest – hosted by the Madison, WI, Mallards, August 24/14 – http://northwoodsleague.com/madison-mallards/special-events/curdfest/
My thanks to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, especially Danielle Johnson, for hosting me on my awesome Wisconsin Northwoods adventures. Also, thanks to Geiger & Associates for organizing such a great trip! [/box]