Among those who closely follow Wisconsin cheesemakers, a few names stand out: Sid Cook, the Mad Genius of Carr Valley. Myron Olson, the Limburger Guy of Chalet Cheese. Joe Widmer, Mr. Old School of Widmer’s Cheese Cellars.
But many talented makers don’t get much press. Among them are Master Cheesemaker David Metzig of Union Star in Zittau, WI. He works in a little artisanal plant with living quarters above the make room, a throwback to the state’s original model of cheesemaking. Beyond making some of the best cheddar in a state famed for the stuff, Metzig makes a string cheese that is unlike anything else bearing the name — light years from the dour stringy lumps that you buy wrapped in plastic, it’s ineffably light and has a lactic purity that makes it taste like fresh milk made solid.
Cheese Underground, Wisconsin’s preeminent cheese blog, has a long post about Metzig’s son, Jon, who has returned home to make cheese with his father and is developing a semi-soft washed ring cheese called St. Jeanne. The blog’s author, Jeanne Carpenter, writes:
“Jon ages it for six weeks and is selling it now as a fairly young, mild stinky cheese. However, he’s thinking about starting to wash and cure some batches with beer, resulting in a heartier, stinkier cheese. He’s trying to figure out if there’s a market for such a cheese (I vote yes).”
Enjoy some shots of David Metzig and Union Star here, and read the story of the next generation over on Cheese Underground. And if you’re ever passing through the Green Bay area, take a detour to Zittau.