When I am out, roaming the Wisconsin countryside for the best cheese curd, I live by one rule: purchase curds only from the factory store. It’s a fairly simple and straightforward approach.
While I know many places across the state sell cheese and curds, I take issue with those who just throw curds on the counter for the profits. I’m looking at you cheese castles and houses. While these are perfectly fine places to purchase your cheese, I believe that the overall cheese curd experience is lost.
What I mean is visiting the cheese factory where the curds are made is an experience unlike any other. Some factories are quaint and are a throwback to simpler times, while others are modern and designed for a more commercial market. By visiting the factory, you not only get to see how the curds are made, but you also get to meet the passionate people behind the cheese.
Enter Cedar Valley Cheese, located in Belgium, WI. They specialize in creating mozzarella and provolone cheeses and have won many awards for their hand-pulled string cheese. While cheddar cheese curds are more common, it’s not entirely unheard of to find mozzarella cheese curds- Cedar Valley just doesn’t make them.
But if you find yourself in Belgium, WI, I would recommend a stop as their retail store as it is something to see. It’s more along the lines of the cheese castles and houses. They not only sell their cheeses, but they sell other cheeses from around the state, Wisconsin related gifts and trinkets, and in the back, they have a small cafe in case you need more cheesy-goodness.
Back to the cheese curds; it’s hard to grade these cheese curds as they aren’t made on site and that takes the wind out of my curd sails. The mystery curds are sold in unmarked, generic bags with a “made date” sticker on the front. I dug through the cooler to find a date that was closest to the day that I was there, and I found a bag that had been made three days prior.
Overall, not bad! They have a tangy, mild cheddar flavor with and aftertaste of salt- but not overwhelming salt. They come in a bag of yellow and white curds- but there really isn’t a taste difference between the two colors.
Like other curds on my adventures, these were sold out of a cold case, and that kept the squeak to a minimum. But I could tell that if I had let them out and get to room temperature, that there was a bigger squeak that was just waiting to break free.
Coming out of the cold case, they were a little damp, and they were starting to get stiff, again, because they weren’t made on the day that I purchased them.
It’s not that these are bad curds, and I do like them. However, I can’t recommend them because I don’t know who made them and I prefer to know the origin of my curds.
A cheesy 2 out of 5 cheese wheels.
Bonus: Cedar Valley does have great string cheese! It’s a throwback to a more classic string cheese. They are firm, have great flavor, and not super salty. If I had to rate their stringiness, I’d give them 5 out of 5 cheese wheels. They’re great fun to eat and pull apart- just be sure to check your face afterward, the strings of cheese can go places!