Ohio’s Own: Walnut Creek Cheese Curds
Cheese curds have been occupying more culinary space in the local dining scene, since poutine started making appearances on Columbus menus.
While curds can be a little challenging to find in the dairy case at big box grocers, the cheese variants are a fixture at more local or artisanal joints. Case in point: Walnut Creek’s Cajun Cheese Curds jumped into the basket on a recent trip to Lucky’s.
Walnut Creek Farms itself is a cheese and regional foods powerhouse. In operation since 1977, it started out as a “cheese route” project based in the back of the proprietor’s pickup truck. Since that time, it’s built its own warehouse, Ohio producer networks, and even a mighty retail outlet that sells its wares out of an outlet in Walnut Creek.
Unsurprisingly, it offers cheese curds in a million flavors. Not just cheddar, but also Hot Pepper, Garlic Dill, Buffalo Wing, and the flavor du jour: Cajun.
Cheese curds are typically consumed as finger food, and Walnut Creek’s wares work well in that capacity. Each clot is firm and provides the signature (but weird) teeth squeak when you bite into one. The squeak is actually a hallmark of freshness, and can disappear over time and lengthy storage. With the addition of paprika, onion and garlic, the Cajun version adds a little spike and a bit of extra brine to an already savory cheese product.
What’s better than cold cheese curds? Yep: Melted. You can pretend you’re doing homemade poutine and nuke some of those curds in the microwave for 5-10 seconds (with or without the fries). Time it right, and they hold their shape, but with an enhanced melty-cheese goodness when you eat them. Perhaps this protocol sounds odd, but the internet indicates it’s a sanctioned approach by various Wisconsin-based cheese outlets. They also promise that the nuking will restore the squeakiness of old curds (if you happen to let them lie around too long).
You can check out Walnut Creek’s selection of cheese curds, and all its other wares, at walnutcreekcheese.com.