When we got to Green Bay, we picked up a visitor’s guide outside of Lambeau Field that amounted to an advertising listing for anyone who had the necessary placement fee to be included. Now I’m not from Green Bay, but this thing isn’t going to convince me that the Olive Garden just west of the Best Buy is an authentic, local Italian eatery. But one listing did catch our attention. Wisconsin is know for cheese, and Nala’s Fromagerie is known for knowing cheese (and they will let novices sample as many cheeses as they want). So this sounded like THE place to go to get our cheese on.
From the moment we stepped into Nala’s with our bulky tourist camera strapped around our quivering shoulders, we were a bit out of place. We’ve never seen so many cheeses, not to mention so many cheeses whose name we could not pronounce. So when cheese monger Scott approached to ask if he could help us find anything, I had to fight the urge to leave Victoria behind and run out the door.
Luckily for us, this was not Scott’s first rodeo with cheese virgins. After four summers at working at the Fromagerie, he’s built up a candy-coated tolerance for comments like “this cheese would go well with a club cracker” or “this is just like Velveeta slices.” He patiently provided us a tour du cheese taking us from the mass-produced block cheddar for which Wisconsin is best known to the more handmade, farm-produced artisan cheeses for which the state is quickly becoming known.
After his excited ten-minute presentation was accompanied only by our of blank stares and nervous nods, he took a deep breath and asked “what kind of cheeses do you like?” Trying to sound as sophisticated as possible, Victoria said “bleu cheese and goat cheese.”
Scott immediately started grabbing blocks of cheese and slamming them on a cutting board. For the next 40 minutes, Scott took us on a humor-filled, sarcasm-laced journey through the making and tasting of cheese. Using terms like “mouth feel” and “let the cheese warm on your palette”, he regularly reminded us why he, and not we, was wearing the cheese monger apron.
Scott sold us on a few crumbles and slices of 2-year-old white cheddar, a more traditional block cheddar and a mobay cheese (made from a mix of goat/sheep milk) as well a loaf of ciabatta bread (all for around $26). Honestly, we would have bought more had we had more disposable income, a larger refrigerator space and a thinner waistline to start.
Though studying political science and communications at Wooster College in Ohio, Scott may do better to convince the owners of the store to allow their employees to accept tips. If he is unable to convince them, he could always supplement his salary as a comedy writer with a few weekend hours at Nala’s. He’s what made this quick and intimidating trip to Nala’s Fromagerie into a experience worth writing about. That and, of course, the “mouthfeel.”
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