Wisconsin Cheese Tour – Day 2 – Sartori Foods
May 17, 2010
After Henning’s, the bus continued up the road through some incredibly beautiful farm and dairy country to Sartori Foods located in Plymouth. I previously reviewed three of their cheeses that The Lady sold on her cheese island adjacent to the cheese kiosk: Bellavitano Gold, Bellavitano with Cracked Pepper and Asiago with Rosemary and Olive Oil.
The group was welcomed by National Retail Sales Manger, Steve Haley, who then turned over the welcoming to the CEO and third-generation owner, Jim Sartori. Jim gave the group an overview of the history of the company and the new Sartori Reserve line of cheeses they began making 3 years ago. This line of cheeses was inspired by the Italian Piave, a cow milk cheese made in the Piave Valley region of Belluno, Italy and crafted with their own spin. And it’s safe to say, this new line has been a great success: 50 Internationally Acclaimed Awards in 2008 and 2009 including 4 Golds at the 2009 World Cheese Awards in the Canary Islands, 5 Golds from the American Cheese Society and the Grand Champion and 6 Golds at the Wisconsin State Fair. There’s no better recognition than that of your peers.
Sartori, founded by Jim’s grandfather in 1939, continues its founder’s philosophy of “Farm to Fork”, working closely with the more than 200 local dairy farmers to produce top-quality cheese. The farmers are all within 50 miles of the factory and the first steps in the cheesemaking process begin within 3 hours of the milk arriving at the factory. Some of the dairy farmers are 3rd and 4th generation providers to Sartori.
Sartori boasts two of the 51 Licensed Master Cheesemakers in Wisconsin and anticipates that two more will reach this professional pinnacle in the next 24 months.
After Jim’s remarks, Steve led the group through a cheese tasting that was extraordinary. He started with SarVechhio Reserve, considered by many (including Murray’s own Liz Thorpe) to be the King of American Parmesans. This is the most decorated American-made Parmesan having won at least 17 awards to date including the Best Cow’s Milk Cheese at the 2006 World Cheese Awards. This award-winner is creamier that its Italian competition with a nutty aroma and even nuttier taste than lingers well on the palate. It has just enough salt to enhance the flavor without over-powering.
Next up were 3 of the Asiagos starting with the Extra Aged, a delightful creamy, ivory paste that cries out to be grated over pasta. Also in the mix were the Rosemary and Olive Oil Asiago and Asiago rubbed with Basil and Olive Oil. The Basil and Olive Oil would be nice grated over tomatoes or a Caesar’s Salad instead of the traditional parm. The two flavored are a little younger than the Extra-Aged, they are pulled from the aging process at six months and rubbed with the flavoring and then aged a bit more.
The Bellavitano Series was next starting with the Gold, which I have also reviewed here last year. This cheese starts out with a parm taste but finishes with a light fruity flavor. It is a favorite of The Lady and the Feline Foodie (that would be me). Also in the series is on made with Raspberry Tart Ale from the New Glarus Brewery, one washed with Merlot and the most recent edition to the series, one washed with Balsamic Vinegar. It was hard for The Lady to pick a favorite, but she decided to go with the Balsamic version.
Next in the tasting was their new Dolcino Gorgonzola with extra cream added to even out the sharpness of the blue. The Lady wept when she sampled this one… I suspect it will be in the bag that comes home with us. She declared it one of the best blues she has ever tasted.
Last and far from the least a new blended milk cheese, Pastorale Blend. Not only did The Lady declare it a winner in the tasting column but it also is a beautiful cheese: a burnt orange that would be an eye-pleaser in any kiosk. The milks are cow and sheep.
All Sartori cheeses are pasteurized.
After the tasting, a banquet was served in their new kitchen with 3 chefs delighting them with pizzas of all styles and featuring many Sartori Cheeses.
The dessert was a cheesecake made with the Bellavitano Raspberry Cheese. What a way to end a fabulous visit to Sartori.
Hey Jim, The Lady asked that I make sure she thinks you got more than one thing right… she said you’d understand.
If Sartori cheeses end up in the cheese haul that returns to the Pacific Northwest, I’ll do more extensive reviewing at that time… my money says they will…
When The Lady returned to the bus, she was in heaven and I was there with her vicariously enjoying the cheeses that Sartori shared.
Jim, Steve, Maria and Sue – thanks for having us… see you in Seattle…