We endured goat, cow and sheep, stinky and wash-rind, cheddars, goudas and farmsteads, smoked and flavored, good and not so good and then there were the crème de la crème. Some of you might say, “Grueling! That sounds cheese-tastic!!” I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy the cheese, but I am saying that there was a TON of cheese. 1,686 different cheeses, to be precise (no, we didn't try all of them, though it felt that way sometimes). Starting your day with cheese (we’re talking a cheese plate in the morning), cheese seminars with tastings throughout the day - there was even cheese in the “break room." This weekend certainly wasn't a a stinker, but it was no slice of brie, either.
|How is my brother still smiling|
after eating all that cheese?
The point is, most of us attending, whether retailer, cheesemonger, cheesemaker, distributor or even enthusiasts (yes, my cheese-loving friends, you could go, too, if you want to - next year is in Raleigh - mark your calendars!) are full of cheese by the end of the day. The funny part is, Bill and I would both go to bed saying, “I won’t need breakfast in the morning,” and we’d both wake really hungry!
Anyway, if you want to see a list of all the winners from this year's competition, go here. If you want to hear about our own festival favorites, read on...
What Found Us…
Westfield Farms Chocolate Capri Goat Log, Hubbardston, MA: My first reaction: “What the...?” but upon further investigation, I could totally eat a whole log. This one might not be for all of you, I loved it. Think it would be perfect with a slice of strawberry.
Bleating Heart Sonoma Toma, Sonoma Country, CA: A real great balance of earthy notes with a buttery and smooth texture. One problem: limited milk supply = limited cheese production.
Hahn’s End Petit Poulet, Phippsburg, ME: Hahn’s End had two of our favorites (Olde Shiretowne is the other), but Petit Poulet stood out. A soft cow’s milk with a bloomy rind and layer of ash, we’re definitely going to try to track this one down. Winner: 3rd place, cow’s milk.
|What was left of this year's winner after |
an hour or so
What We Found (Again)…
Rogue River Creamery Rogue River Blue, Central Point, OR: A picture says a thousand words! Everybody wanted a taste of this year's Best in Show (officially the Best Cheese in the Country!) For those of you who didn’t get a chance to taste it when we had it in last year, watch out for its comeback. A great cheese that totally deserves to win it all (and Rogue River Creamery owner David Gremmels is an incredibly nice guy - very happy for him and all the folks at RRC!) Winner: 1st place for blue cheese with rind, and Best in Show.
VBC Cremont, Webserville, VT: One of my personal favorites since it came out last year. Rich, luscious and earthy…totally awesome. Winner: 2nd place, mixed milks.
Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam, Petaluma, CA: The cowboys will play, but the cowgirls will…make really good cheese!! Buttery and creamy, we’ve always loved Cowgirl cheeses and want them back in the store. Ask for a taste when you see them. Winner: 2nd place original recipe, cow’s milk.
Cyrpess Grove Humboldt Fog, Arcata, CA: We’ve loved Humboldt Fog for years, and many of you have, too. Creamy, tangy, but slightly crumbly. Winner: 3rd place original recipe, goat’s milk.
Notice someone missing? Jasper Hill!! We were a little shocked/disappointed to see the American cheese innovators absent from the official winner list, but we still think Constant Bliss and Moses Sleeper are some of the best American cheeses out there, and we simply can't wait for for their new cheese, Harbison, to show up at our cheese counter (we got a sneak peak, and it was sooooooo good!) Keep on churning that wheel!
Your foodie friend,