Madison Cheese Shop Visits! Wisconsin Cheese Mart and Fromagination
The next stop on our Midwest Cheese Shop Tour brought us to Madison, Wisconsin. We stayed at the Graduate Madison, just off the University of Wisconsin’s campus. Great decor (the “CURD” pillow!), great vibes (the cute coffee shop in the lobby and great rooftop bar!).
We found ourselves in the capital of America’s Dairyland and encountered ‘a tale of two cheese shops’. First, we visited Wisconsin Cheese Mart which was definitely geared towards tourists. It was giving more sterile, grocery-store vibes, with grab-and-go fridges filled with exclusively Wisconsin cheeses. There was a lone cashier that didn’t seem interested in any conversation, try as I might. Still, Alex and I were able to see the sheer volume of Wisconsin cheeses, score some fresh curds, and take goofy cheesehead pictures with a cow statue. Still a win!
Second, we made our way to Fromagination which was only a few blocks away, just across the street from the Wisconsin state capital building. Here we were greeted with warm, welcoming vibes, with a full lunch menu, and cut-to-order cheese cases featuring a mix of domestic and international cheeses (heavily weighted towards Wisconsin cheeses, naturally). The cheesemongers were SO friendly and eager to sample whatever cheeses caught our eye. We had to snag some of the Schroeder Käse Brie (Schroeder is my last name – I had to get it!).
While these two shops has drastically different vibes, it was clear that they were both incredibly proud of the cheesemaking history and heritage of Wisconsin. I feel like this was just the tip of the iceberg for me, especially since our time was limited and we were just passing through. The next time I visit Wisconsin, I’m going to focus my visits on farms and cheesemakers – there’s so much left to explore!