Washington Post. Here was a raw cow's milk cheese (with a great name) from my home state, and I'd never heard of it. How was this possible? Needless to say, when I traveled back to Wisconsin in May, I went on a hunt for Big Ed. He was coming home with me.
In Fromagination, a cheese shop in downtown Madison, I found him. What love! He was a 15-lb wheel with leaves embossed around the edge, about as pretty a cheese as I'd ever seen. I was smitten.
My brother and I had plans to host a small grilled-pizza party that night, as it was his birthday, so we picked up a selection of our favorite Wisconsin cheeses and decided to make an all-state blow-out of WI pies. We grabbed some Bleu Mont Dairy Bandaged Cheddar, some BelGioiosi Parm, some local mozzarella, a wedge of Dante (a stunning sheep's milk cheese), and a great slab of Big Ed.
Big Ed is a gouda-style cheese that comes from Saxon Homestead Creamery in Cleveland, WI on the shores of Lake Michigan. It's named after a guy named Ed Klessig, who supported his three sons in a cheese-making endeavor that began back in 2005. Now, the real Big Ed is no more, but his belief in being a steward of the land lives on, in part through this cheese. Saxon Homestead Creamery practices rotational grazing to produce about five high-quality artisanal cheeses. Saxony, their latest release, was just written up in Culture Magazine.
This might be a gouda-style cheese, but it's more flavorful than any gouda I've eaten. It's got a buttery texture, but the flavor profile is nutty, salty, and gently beefy -- we decided to test it against some sharp pizza ingredients, namely onions, mushrooms, black olives, and a whole load of chives.