Several weeks ago I popped over to the local Whole Foods for a hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Never one to grab and go at the cheese counter, I trolled through the entire fresh selection in hopes of spotting something new [and relatively inexpensive]. As much as I adore imported cheeses, hometown loyalty usually draws me to unknown cheeses from my home state of Wisconsin. This time it was one from Antigo, WI described as a relative of Parmesan with a nutty, almost caramel-like flavor, slight crystalline quality and long finish. For about $15 per pound, I snatched up a jagged hunk of Sarvecchio in lieu of the Parmigiano I intended to buy. When in doubt go local, right?

The prestigious United States Championship Cheese Contest is touted as the “Superbowl of Cheese.” Held this year at where else but Cheesehead central – Lambeau Field in Green Bay, it was three days of examining, smelling and nibbling from March 15 to the 17th. Larger than ever with 1360 entries of 64 varieties from 32 states, more than half of the gold medal winners were made by Wisconsin cheesemakers. Twenty-four judges presided over the championship round, ultimately selecting the straw-colored beauty, Sarvecchio Parmesan from Antigo. I raved before and I’ll rave again… but this time my enthusiastic doting is approved by the experts!