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The backstory: Before Landmark Creamery found a place to call home in Belleville, Anna Landmark and Anna Thomas Bates had been cheese-making nomads since 2014. The two-women team (Landmark does most of the cheese-making while Thomas Bates handles marketing, sales and other duties) ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2017 to expand their operation, which allowed them to open a retail shop that also houses a cheese-aging space.
The vibe: Order at the counter of this small, casual little shop and split a cheeseboard with a few friends at a table — Landmark’s uncle built the communal table inside and the outdoor picnic tables. “It was fun on the design side to think through the layout and do the things we wanted to do for a long time,” says Landmark. While she and Thomas Bates say it’s been great to have a retail and dine-in space to call their own, the real game changer for them has been the added production space where they can age their own cheeses. They now have four rooms that can be set to different temperatures and humidity to store and cure cheese. Four of the five cheeses they make take from three months to a year to age.
The menu: Landmark Creamery sells its five different cow’s and sheep’s milk cheeses at the shop along with cheese from other Wisconsin makers. The Creamery’s cheeses include Pipit, a sheep’s milk gouda; Tall Grass Reserve, a pasture-grazed cow’s milk cheese using milk from Uplands Cheese Co.; Anabasque, a washed rind sheep’s milk cheese; Pecora Nocciola (Italian for nutty ewe), a firm Pecorino-style sheep’s milk cheese; and Petit Nuage, the award-winning fresh sheep’s milk cheese and the Creamery’s first cheese. This soft cheese is offered seasonally in February, when sheep are being milked. You’ll also find other local food products or items that would help you assemble a killer cheeseboard, including Potter’s Crackers and house-made pickles.
The must-try: Also made at the shop are grilled cheese sandwiches, but not just any grilled cheese sandwiches — the ones at Landmark are award-winning. Every time Thomas Bates has competed in Dodgeville’s Grilled Cheese Championships, she’s snagged a trophy — you can admire the shiny hardware on one of the top shelves at the store. They make classic grilled cheeses with Landmark’s Pipit, or you can add a few fancy condiments, like Quince & Apple preserves. Another must-try is the pimento cheese, which the creamery makes using a recipe from the now-closed Martha’s Pimento Cheese out of Milwaukee.
The bottom line: It is homegrown cheese businesses like Landmark Creamery that help defend Wisconsin’s reputation as the best place in the world for cheese. We can only hope the wheels keep turning on this female-led operation.
6895 Paoli Road, Belleville, 848-1162
Andrea Behling is managing editor of Madison Magazine.
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