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The Gazette KCRG
Posted April 23, 2012
Cheese Lovers Bring Wisconsin Cheese to Iowa

VINTON — You can’t buy American cheese at the Cheesehead Cheese Haus.

Then again, why would you want to when you can choose from dozens upon dozens of such intriguing Wisconsin flavors as chocolate fudge cheese, Colby cranberry and hot Jack habanero cheese?

“I didn’t know if I’d like some of these cheeses,” admits Kris Shultis, who opened the business last November with her husband, Bob. “But I haven’t found a cheese I don’t like.”

The fudge cheese melts in your mouth. The habanero can burn your tonsils. And, if you’re looking for something a little weird, you can’t beat morel and leek Jack cheese.

“You might not think so,” Kris says, “but that’s one of our most popular.”

But, look through cooler No. 1, then No. 2 and No. 3, and Kris will say that about a lot of the 100 kinds/flavors.

“Cheese is really fun,” she says. “It makes you happy.”

It makes you smile — that’s why photographers have you say “Cheese.”

Such happiness is why Kris, 46, and Bob, 54, gave their business (www.thecheesehaus.com) the double cheese name. She was born in Wisconsin and he moved there from New Jersey to attend the University of Wisconsin in Madison where they met 20 years ago. Kris, a graduate of Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, had returned to Madison after a stint with the Ohio Ballet Chamber Orchestra in Akron.

The couple moved to Iowa City in 1993 when she taught oboe at the University of Iowa. But, after her endowment was cut three years later, she became a massage therapist. Meanwhile, Bob, who worked for Crescent Electric in Madison and Cedar Rapids (he’s now with R/B Sales of Marion) was between jobs. About five years ago they had moved with their children, Grace, now 13, and Julia, 9, to an acreage southeast of Vinton.

“We wanted to bring Wisconsin cheese to Iowa when we came here 18 years ago,” Kris says. “We wanted to have our own small business.”

The Cheesehead Cheese Haus seemed perfect since the only dedicated cheese outlet they knew about was the Kalona Cheese House.

“All of our cheese is from small, family owned dairies in Wisconsin,” Kris says. At first they worked with a dozen, but have cut that to six stops on their cheese runs every two or three weeks.

For the past year Kris has read a lot about cheese and hopes to attend a cheese school in San Francisco.

Competitively priced for the quality, cheese prices here range from $6 to $30 per pound. You’ll find everything from cheddar cheese (aged from one year to 12) to interesting flavors from bacon or blueberry to apple Jack or Limburger.

“We take requests,” Kris says. “When we first got here, we got a request for frying cheese. When you heat it, it doesn’t melt.”

Maybe your request could be a song, too, since, if you stop in the afternoon, Kris may be playing her oboe.

The Cheesehead Cheese Haus simply has that relaxed atmosphere, where you can sample some of the worldwide wines also available, consult charts to pair wines and cheeses, and shop for all sorts of related items from cheese-stuffed green olives to special storage containers, knives and cutting boards.

Comments: (319) 398-8323; dave.rasdal@sourcemedia.net

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