Traditional Wisco cheese curds: Also known, by aficionados, as “squeaks.” Reason being: The fresher they are, the more they make that sound (like rubbing against tooth enamel) when you bite into them. Clock Shadow Creamery (138 W. Bruce St.) makes its scrumptious cheddar curds on Wednesdays and Fridays.
To some, frying these babies is the closest thing to spiritual purity. No surprise that they appear on so many menus. At Uber Tap Room (1048 N. Old World Third St.), the cook encases these chewy, cheesy morsels in beer batter and sprinkles them with Vulcan’s Fire Salt from the Spice House. The side of ranch dipping sauce is obligatory.
The combination of curds and French fries drenched in meat gravy is essentially the official dish of Canada. Third Ward butcher/restaurant Bavette (330 E. Menomonee St.) puts a colorful spin on it with mushroom gravy, pickled peppers, crispy sweet potato fries and sausage, braised beef or even a poached egg.
The Wisconsin burger at Bass Bay Brewhouse in Muskego (S79 W15851 Aud Mar Drive) is less about the beef patty and more about what’s on it. And what isn’t? Atop the patty: a Usinger brat, butterkase cheese, caramelized onion, Dijonnaise and cheese curds, all in a pretzel bun.
Goat Cheese Curds
Talk about creamy. La Merenda (125 E. National Ave.) buries goat cheese curds (from LaClare Farms in Malone, Wis.) in Tia Paquita chorizo cream sauce. Spoon it on crostini and let it melt in your mouth.
The Evolution of the Curd
The first cheesemaking humans may have lived in northern Europe 7,000 years ago, per a 2012 study from the University of Bristol, UK. Researchers found biochemical proof that the strainer-like vessels unearthed were used to separate dairy fats.
Curds are created when whey and curd separate. Exactly when people began eating curds isn’t clear, but Wisco would like to own the invention. One far-fetched yarn purports that UW scientists unwittingly made cheese curds in a lab.
Poutine reportedly was invented when a Quebecois chef combined frites and cheese curds in a bag because his customer was in a hurry, and the chef pronounced this tousled creation “poutine” (a Quebecois slang term for “mess”).