November 19, 2017
The weather has been unseasonably warm for late November, and today is no different.
I’m traveling with my husband, Scott, to visit my sister, Karen, for the day in La Crosse. The main reason we are visiting is to have an early Christmas and to have her show us her new apartment…but not-so- secretively it’s my excuse to go cheesing.
Yesterday, Karen sent me a message confirming our trip, “What’s your plan for tomorrow?” I may have been in a snarky mood when I shot back, “Stop for cheese curds,” before I actually gave her my plans. But is the truth ever snarky? I think not.
Driving east-west across the middle of Wisconsin leaves you with limited highway options, but an abundance of backroads that offer ample opportunities for cheesing. If you happen to find yourself in the greater Driftless Area, there are copious opportunities to seek out a Carr Valley store.
My travel adventures have taken me to their factories in Fennimore and Mauston, along with their retail store in Wisconsin Dells. At every store, I make a beeline for the curds, along with a few other items which seem to follow me home; including their aged swiss and eight-year-old cheddar. What can I say? I like older cheeses! Ironic, I know, considering I blog about cheese curds- the babies of cheese.
My love of Carr Valley started on a very random trip my senior year of high school. At that point in my life, I wanted to become an owner of a houseboat rental company on the Mississippi River. (Just go with me here, I have a point). I convinced my dad to take me to Fountain City, WI, as that was the place I had chosen to set up shop. Before we got to the Mississippi, we stopped in Mauston and happened to walk into the Carr Valley cheese outlet on highway 82. As true-born Wisconsinites, we bought some curds. I was three curds into the bag when I knew these were the curds for me!
But how do the curds stack up?
The curds were saltier and had less cheddar flavor than I remember. My new found cheesing has no doubt lead me to develop a more refined palette. (Hehe, probably not. That last sentence just sounds good.) There was a strange aftertaste that I can’t place, and from past experiences, this flavor hasn’t been there before. Perhaps that it was because the curds had been made the previous day, but I’m not convinced. I will say that this aftertaste dissipated by Monday morning.
The squeak was real! Carr Valley curds are never lacking in squeaks.
A solid, slippery curd. The bag contained various sizes of curds, however, by the time I finished the bag, the curds had become tiny pieces.
All around, I’m a little bummed that I can no longer claim these as my all-time favorites. While I still enjoyed them, the saltiness and general lack of cheddar flavor didn’t impress me compared to other curds I’ve tasted. However, as a creature of habit, if I find myself in the area again, I will stop in for a bag.
I’m disappointed to say, a cheesy 3.5 out of 5 cheese wheels.