Wisconsin is known for cheese, of course. We're "America's Dairyland" for cripes' sake. And one of our favorite delicacies we've crafted - and more recently discovered across the country - is cheese curds.
Essentially just fresh blocks of cheese that haven't been pressed or aged, cheese curds are merely the freshly created cheese combined with salt - in their purest form. We've enjoyed them and their unique "squeak" - the consequence of the amino acids in the cheese rubbing against the enamel on your teeth - straight up for as long as cheese has been made in Wisconsin. More recently, deep-frying the curds, usually in some sort of breading, has caught on and is now being sold in restaurants, bars, and food trucks across the state (and, increasingly, the country). Adding spices, dipping sauces, and more have turned this into a more competitive delicacy.
Ranch and marinara are probably the most popular dipping sauces for cheese curds, but spicy ranch, sriracha mayo, and even maple syrup have shown up as dipping options. On Discover Wisconsin, for our Cheese Curd Crawl episode we stopped at Black Sheep on 2nd Street in Milwaukee to enjoy pancake-battered curds with maple syrup as a dip - and if you like sweet, you're gonna love it!
Even the cheeses used have diversified. Typically, cheese curds are made with cheddar. Muenster, which is saltier and creamier, has emerged as an excellent option. We even tried Goat Cheese Curds at La Merenda in Milwaukee - and they were freakin' delicious.
Shout-out to Culver's, which created National Cheese Curd Day in 2015. Their national expansion from humble beginnings in Sauk City have expanded the horizons of cheese curds to patrons all across the country. They have some of the best fast-food/fast casual curds, but A&W stands out, too.
Of course, many of the best curds are at bars, taverns, breweries, and drive-ins around the city, region, and state. Where are some of yours?? OnMilwaukee.com has their opinion - I'd like to hear what you have to say! Comment here or on our Facebook page.