Does Chicago have a theme song? Like New York, New York? If they did I’d be singing it to my heart’s content. What an awesome town! Last week I got to experience Chicago first hand, absorbing all I could with my eyes, ears and best of all stomach with the great people from Cracker Barrel Cheese! The next few months here at Country Cleaver we’re going to be chatting cheese, creating fun recipes and going into the wonderful world of curd – so get your stretchy pants on people, it’s gonna get cheesy up in here!

Chicago - cheese making

Learning Cheese

Our first stop was to the Kraft test kitchens where we learned all about the basics of cheese making, cheese tasting, pairings and judging. Did you know that cheese and chocolate go together? Well, they do. White chocolate and cheese – life changer.

Crackerbarrel ranks amongst the best cheese available, winning some of the most prestigious awards in the cheese world. These aren’t you “paid to be awarded” type of awards, these are blind taste test awards that pit them against some of the best artisanal cheesemongers out there. Consistency and quality make Cracker Barrel the cheese you go back to time and time again for all your entertaining and snacking needs.

Tasting Chicago’s Finest


At Little Goat – Photo Credit from Courtney Whittmore from Pizzazzerie

If you’re a Top Chef fan you will know this name right off the bat – Stephanie Izard. After the Top Chef Season 4 contestant swept the show and won, she returned to Chicago to open up her restaurant Little Goat. To say that it was simply “delicious” would do it the biggest injustice. It was utterly fabulous, flavorful, innovative and still homey and comforting. Between the sweet onion soup and the chocolate and cheese dessert – I really couldn’t pick a favorite.

If you are ever in Chicago – Go. Here.

Chicago - chocolate

Along the way we also took a few moments to try out hand at additional chocolate and cheese pairings at the Vosges Flagship store. With brilliant culinary flair, these chocolate combined exotic spices with sweet chocolate and strong, flavorful cheeses. It was so cool! They’re chocolate bacon bar is everywhere and once you go bacon and chocolate you’ll never go back. Fine, it doesn’t rhyme – but the statement stands.

Chicago - haute and the dogBetween the Chicago Hot Dog and the Chicago Deep Dish pizza – I’m not sure which is more “Chicago-ish”. Which one is better? Which one is more Chicago? Who cares – because either one is a total win. Our final stop on our food tour was to the renound The Haute and the Dog. Seeing as mac and cheese was the end all be all of my childhood food pyramid – I couldn’t pass up the green chile mac and cheese dog. I know, how terrible am I for passing up a tried and true Chicago Dog? But it was scrumptious to the Nth degree. Along with their baked fries and aioli. I’m lusting after a hot dog now. I’ve officially got problems.

Food Styling

chicago - The Boarding HouseBefore departing Chicago our last meal was had at The Boarding House where we got to partake in some of the simplest and most lovely styled foods and got to experiment ourselves with styling with cheese. Laura Bedardski taught us all the tricks of the trade for styling with cheese and gave us a chance to try our hand at it, too. And yes, I snuck a bite here and there. Shhh…


The design of the Boarding House was so snazzy, with over 6,000 wine glasses hanging from the ceiling downstaire and over 3,000 beer bottles hanging above us at brunch.

chicago-7 chicago-5

The whole trip was just pure perfection. It was a trip I won’t soon forget.

Oh, and did I mention the Vosges Chocolates? Just covering my bases.
Chicago - VosgesStay tuned for more cheese talk and join me in this fun new adventure.


*Fine Print* Photography: Todd Rosenberg/Cracker Barrel (Boarding House Photos), Girl + Goat set – by Courtney Whittmore from Pizzazzerie – all the rest are my own. | Disclaimer: The trip was provided by Kraft Cracker Barrel but all opinions are my own. Cheese rules!