You’ve got to give it up for Wisconsin’s food scene. What with Tory Miller of L’Etoile winning a James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest earlier this week, and LeClare’s Evalon Cheese winning the US Cheese Championship in 2011, Wisconsin is a nearby getaway with plenty of options for hungry travelers.
Consider Osseo, Wisc. It’s located about 120 miles southeast from the Twin Cities, just off I-94. Passersby might know the city for Moe’s (Almost) World Famous Diner and their larger-than-life cow and chicken sculptures out front. Osseo’s also known for the Norske Nook’s strawberry-rhubarb pie, and for the Foster Cheese Haus and their craft beer, cheese selection, and clean bathroom. You might even know Osseo as a bicyclist—Bicycling Magazine said Trempealeau County is “cycling nirvana.”
But just off the path beaten down by bicycle riders and pie enthusiasts is Castle Rock Organic Dairy, where the Kostka family operates a farmstead creamery making cheese, ice cream, butter, and bottled milk. A fifth generation dairy farm, Castle Rock is certified organic, and is a single-source farmstead dairy, which means their dairy products are made with milk from their own herd. Their feed crops, which they grow themselves, are pesticide-free, and their cattle are free from hormones and antibiotics. They received an outstanding rating, receiving 1150 out of a possible 1200 points, on the Cornucopia Institute’s dairy scorecard.
On a recent trip to Osseo, I stopped by the Castle Rock Organic Dairy retail store, which is perched on one of the grass-covered hills of Trempealeau County. A small windmill with a discreet sign announcing “Castle Rock Organic Dairy, Open 8 a.m.-8 p.m.” marked the entrance to the retail store. Inside, refrigerators and freezers greeted me, stocked with sparkling glass bottles of non-homogenized milk and chocolate milk, ice cream, heavy cream, churned cream (butter), cheese, cheese curds (best when fresh on Tuesdays), and cuts of meat. Among my family members, our favorites are their non-homogenized chocolate milk and fresh cheese curds.
Not heading past Osseo during a summertime trip to a lakeside cabin in Wisconsin? Find their products locally at Golden Fig, Linden Hills Co-op, Mississippi Markets, Seward Co-op, Valley Natural Foods, Common Roots, or Wise Acre, and then watch this video from 2010, which will give you a good glimpse of Castle Rock’s herd, creamery, and milk bottling process: