This is part of a series introducing the Cheeselandia Council, brought to you by Wisconsin Cheese.
Originally from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Libby Rasmussen was born a cheese enthusiast. Her father worked at a dairy farm & showed cows for most of his adolescent years. Libby followed in the footsteps by being an active 4-H member in her county. Bringing the spirit of Wisconsin to Washington, DC, Libby has hosted numerous cheese tasting parties and has privately catered large-scale cheese boards and grazing tables around the country.
We wanted to learn more about how Libby became involved in Cheeselandia, a community for loud and proud cheese lovers,, and her tips and tricks for finding delicious cheese outside the state of Wisconsin.
HRN: How did you become a fan of Wisconsin cheese?
Libby Ramussen: As a Wisconsinite, it’s truly in my veins to be a fan of Wisconsin cheese. My earliest memories of cheese are the platters of cheddar and fresh cheese curds next to venison salami and hot sticks during Christmas. Zero frills, and completely perfect with a buttery Ritz cracker. Simply the best!
HRN: What was the first cheese you fell in love with?
LR: I think for every kid growing up in Wisconsin, the classic Wisconsin Cheese Curd, either squeaky or fried was the first cheese we fall in love with. I also remember seeing flaming goat cheese (literally cheese on fire) served at a restaurant with my parents and going to school telling everyone I was going to bring it as my treat to a school potluck. The cheese fascination was real from an early age.
HRN: In your words, what (or where) is Cheeselandia?
LR: Cheeselandia to me, is where all Wisconsinites and cheese lovers can be together. A community and a place to have a GRATE time, share a slice of their love of cheese, and learn more about the wonderful people who make it. Oh, and there is definitely a picturesque cheese fondue river there, in my mind at least.
HRN: What are your cheese shopping tips for Washington D.C.?
LR: The DREAM would be for a cheese monger and fellow Wisconsinite to open up a Wisconsin cheese market here in DC. But, until that dream comes true, I love letting friends know that you can find Wisconsin cheese everywhere. Looking for the “Proudly Wisconsin Cheese” logo on many cheeses at the grocery store is a great place to start. I love going to Whole Foods and seeing Wisconsin cheese from their monger’s selection next to the fanciest of European cheeses. Many people don’t know this, but Wisconsin wins more awards than any other state or country for our cheese.
I also love heading to my favorite local market, Each Peach, in DC to see what selections of Wisconsin cheeses they have. For DC friends who want to purchase straight from the State of Cheese, I tell them to check out Fromagination in Madison and order online directly from them. They make the most beautiful packages of cheese that are perfect for gifts.
HRN: When you're selecting cheese for a platter/board, what varieties and combinations to you gravitate towards?
LR: I make a cheese board for myself and friends probably once a week. I am a true believer in the extraordinary ordinary moments and just treating yourself to something decadent and beautiful, especially these days. But, with a board for one or two, it doesn’t have to be as fussy. I always gravitate to any Sartori Cheese to start, their MontAmoré if I can find it, which is a combination of their Aged White Cheddar and Parmesan. Always a Blue too. Carr Valley’s Glacier Point Blue with a little local honey on a cracker is DIVINE. And a must for me, is putting a classic, deep orange, sharp Wisconsin cheddar on a board is essential as a Wisconsinite, in my opinion.