Schnebelhorn

Honestly, one of my favorite things about this time of year is that it’s socially acceptable to melt cheese on everything! Maybe you’ve seen all those glorious videos of Raclette oozing off the plate? Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. While there are few things as satisfying, there are plenty of cheeses out there that can pull double duty. Ones that taste fantastic right off the wheel and also melt well in your grilled cheese.

I’ll admit that Alpine style cheeses are usually some of my personal favorite. They just hit a sweet spot in my brain that is immensely comforting. Now, maybe you heard the NPR story on the popularity of fondue and that it was due to a Swiss Cheese Cartel. It’s hard to believe that something so strange could be true! There were other repercussions to the Schweizer Kasseunion (Swiss Cheese Union). Swiss Cheese makers were not allowed to make cheeses outside of the cheese they were commissioned to make. For example, if a cheesemaker made Emmental, they were not allowed to make any other type of cheese. While good for consistency of Switzerland’s top selling products, this stifled innovation and progress while sending lots of traditional cheeses to the underground markets of Switzerland. It was impossible to differentiate between cheeses made by different cheesemakers because the marketing was controlled by this government agency. ( Here’s an extended take on the whole situation.) Even though there are strict regulations involved in most name controlled cheeses, there is an art in creation and affinage that each cheesemaker deserves credit for. Well, the Schweizer Kasseunion was disbanded in the late 1990’s and now cheesemakers are able to keep their day jobs with making Gruyere and Emmental while also making other cheese, new and old. Schnebelhorn is one such cheese.

Made by a third generation cheesemaker whose family makes Appenzeller, Schnebelhorn has the tradition of the past while having the freedom and flavor of innovation. The addition of cream to the raw milk is not usually seen in this style of cheese but it adds a depth of flavor unmatched by many cheeses of it’s age range at 8-9 months old. The creaminess is evident in its texture but it also carries a bit of pleasing grittiness. It’s perfect for snacking and it would be a killer addition to any melting recipe!

I paired it with Quince and Apple’s Raspberry Rose preserves and it was divine. The cream in the cheese balances some of the tartness in the raspberry while the rose is enhanced by the sweet, floral notes in the cheese.

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This could be a deserted island pairing. It’s that good.

What’s your favorite Alpine cheese? What do you pair with it?

Are you going to the Winter Fancy Food show in San Fransisco next week? Well, I’ll be there working with Quince and Apple so please come and taste some goodies and lets talk pairing! They were so generous to send me their full line up so I could really delve in and conjure up some combinations! Hope to see you there!

Can’t make it to California? Be sure to follow my adventures on Instagram and Facebook where I will be posting photos and stories from my cheesy travels!

Cherry Valley Dairy

The morning after the election was a dreary one. The rain poured down and a heavy feeling sat in the pit of my stomach. I didn’t sleep well due to staying up late to watch as the results came in, but I had scheduled this visit a while before and honestly, there were few places I could think of that I would rather be than out on the farm.

Tucked away in the Snoqualmie Valley, Duvall is not so far from where I live. A 40 minute drive out of the city will get you right in the heart of Washington farmland. It was dark and rainy drive but not at all hard to find.

Cherry Valley Dairy is a sustainable, Jersey cow farm that produces butter, cheese, buttermilk and other dairy delights. They keep a small herd that they rotationally graze on the pasture to allow for the flavors of the land to truly come through. When the pastures flood in the winter, which they do, sometimes up to 10 feet, they use a haylage from local farms around the area. This fermented hay keeps the flavor of the land present while allowing for the natural ebbs and flows of the pastures. There is a creek that runs through the land that has been certified salmon safe since 2013. The Snoqualmie tribe has restored the creek bed, ridding it of invasive plants, replanting native grasses, and replacing boulders with logs to ease the path for salmon spawning.

Early mornings at the farm are an everyday thing even if I’m not used to waking up before dawn. I rolled in around 6am and Blain, the head cheesemaker, and Emily, head of marketing and sales, were already busy getting orders prepped and preparing the milk for it’s new life. Ann-Marie, their herd manager, was already busy milking and awaiting a delivery of a newborn calf from her cow that she keeps with the herd. Meghan, the assistant cheesemaker, came in a bit later to help with some of the new projects they have making their way on to stores’ shelves very soon. They had warned me that butter making days aren’t necessarily the most action packed days on the farm but there was plenty being done and I was more than happy to be there. The fact that they weren’t as pressed for time made it easier for them to give me a tour of the land.

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I’ve always loved butter but my obsession has really grown over the last couple of years. I honestly think it’s one of the truest expressions of quality milk because so little is done to make it happen. I love that with cheese you get to see how milk changes through time and proper care but butter, it’s really all about the simplicity. Cherry Valley Dairy won big this last year at the American Cheese Society conference in Des Moines, IA with three of their butters taking a ribbon in their category.

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It really is just as simple as that. (As simple as taking care of animals day and night, milking them twice a day, ensuring that the animals live in an environment that keeps them healthy and safe so they can produce high quality milk, and to have the equipment and testing abilities to make healthy and safe food for the masses. You know, simple.This is why I just write about it!)

They also make a delicious cheese that is aged right there on the farm. The Dairy Reserve is rubbed with cocoa, black pepper, and cinnamon. It has won it’s fair share of awards at ACS also.

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I suggest that if you come across some of this butter (or cheese!)while out shopping, buy some. Try the herbed rose butter on your next piece of toast. (I did this morning and man, what a wonderful treat!) Not only will you be getting something tasty, you will be putting money back in to the community. Now, more than ever, it’s important to bridge the gap between cities and rural communities. If you have the ability to make the choice to spend a bit more on your monthly food budget, use it. Your tongue will thank you.

Now, it wouldn’t be me without some cute animal photos. Here ya go.

One of the main things I walked away with was the fact that life continues no matter what political mess may be happening. A new life came to be at the farm that morning and it was the perfect reminder that the work continues. It continues in ways that help benefit people, the land, and the animals. We just have to find it.

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Whatcom County Farm Tour

I can readily admit that I haven’t explored much of Washington in the three years I’ve lived here, and that’s kind of the idea behind this blog. To explore my area more fully and taste my way around the PNW. I am a huge proponent of American Artisan cheese so I want to know more about what’s happening in my backyard. I’ve known that Bellingham and the surrounding area are a hot bed for dairy and cheesemaking and I had plans of making my way up there for quite some time so when I saw a tour already planned and mapped out, I made sure that I would be there.

This was a self guided tour was hosted by Sustainable Connections and took people  through 12 stops that included farms, farmer’s markets, and a couple of vineyards. They did have the opportunity to have a guided tour that went to each stop which was great for those that live in the area.

We took our time getting out the door because Saturdays are often the first day of the week that sleeping in is truly feasible. The drive to Bellingham is only about an hour and a half and it went by quickly. I have to say I kind of failed at planning out the day before we left so we got in to town and needed to figure out where we were going to go from there. We stopped at the Bellingham Farmer’s Market but they clearly posted that no dogs were allowed so instead of wandering the market, we grabbed a bite to eat at Community Food Co-op then made our way to the first stop.

Twin Brook Farm is practically on the Canadian border in Lynden, WA. Family owned and operated since 1910, Twin Brook has sold milk on the commodity market for most of that time. In 1995 they decided it was time to diversify and to add value to their company by bottling and labeling under their own name and brand using glass bottles. They own two dairy farms that provide the milk but we got the tour of the heritage farm and got to stand in the barn that was raised by Larry’s great parents. Their products consist of 100% pure Jersey cow milk and they make a variety of items including chocolate milk, egg nog, and buttermilk.

They believe in being stewards for the environment and pasture the animals during the summer and using feed and hay grown from the land during the winter months. They have recently switched to robotic milkers and while it was a costly undertaking, Larry said that the animals output has increased. The cows now decide when they are ready to milk and through the use of the computer the herdsman can get a proper reading on the overall health of the animal.

From there we headed over to Appel Farms Cheese shop where they sell all of their cheese  and accoutrements from neighboring farms. In the back they have a cute area for a few animals and a pond that is a great place to relax.

Ferndale Farmstead took this day as an opportunity to have their first Seed to Cheese farm dinner. Since they do Italian style cheeses, it makes sense that they had a local pizza truck from Pizza’zza doing pies featuring cheeses made at the farm. It was a perfect evening to sit out in the field and to enjoy some slices.

Ferndale Farmstead may be a new player on the scene but they are crafting some of the finest (and only) Italian style cheeses in the area. Three generations of farming experience come in to play here and when one of the sons found Artisan cheese while in college, the family rallied to help make his dream happen. From grass seed to cheese, everything is done right there on the farm.

The farm tour was a great way to see a few places in one day but I definitely want to go back and do a bit more exploring. There is a lot more to experience and more places to visit. This was just the tip of the iceberg.

I highly recommend getting tickets to the Washington Artisan Cheesemakers Festival held at the Seattle Design Center on September 24th from 1pm-5pm. Ferndale Farmstead will be there representing and it’s a great way to experience all the deliciousness we have in our state. I’ll be working the Cheese shop until 3pm so I hope to see you there!

Friday Pear: Comice

Growing up in the PNW, I’ve always kind of taken for granted the bounty that we enjoy that grows locally. From apples, onions, strawberries, and even hops, we are very fortunate that our climate allows for such abundance. Even though we were terribly poor growing up, we ate locally because thats what lined the produce departments in nearly every store in our small town. While I’ve always loved all this, I’ve never really sat down and really looked in to this local fare with a deeper lens so a new series has sprung!

My local grocery store happened to be running a special on all NW grown pears so I decided this would be a great time to try them all. It’s still pretty early in the season so I have to admit that they really haven’t hit their prime yet but I love pears pretty much all the time. I haven’t quite worked out exactly how I’m going to play with all these pears but it’ll be a fun experiment.

I wanted the first round to be a cheese pairing (because I still have ridiculous amounts of cheese in my fridge and OOPS, I bought more!) and I randomly just chose the Comice. After doing a bit of research, I realized I picked the perfect pear for that sort of thing. Comice was first propagated in the 1800’s around Angers, France. It’s widely known as the sweetest, juiciest pear and it is what a lot of people see as the pinnacle of a perfect pear! Comice has an Oregon connection in that often the Comice will have a red spot and that is known as a sport. It’s a spontaneous transformation that happens in some fruit trees and the red sport was first discovered in Medford, OR. Due to the juiciness of the Comice, they are aren’t the best for cooking applications but are perfect for slicing and eating fresh! To find the perfect pear, apply gentle pressure to the neck of the pear and if it has some give it should be ready to go. They can be found readily for most of the year but their season is from September to March.

Now, on to the pearing! (bare with me, I’ve wanted to do that this entire post)

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From bottom L clockwise: Le Pico, Landau, Zamorano, Fouette, Bayley Hazen, Ashbrook

Le Pico: This little nugget of goaty goodness was exactly what my mouth had been craving lately. I nearly ate the entire quarter I cut, barely leaving any for Ben to taste. This was my favorite with the Comice because while the pear was on the under ripe side, this cheese brought out it’s natural sweetness.  French cheese + French pear = perfection in my book.

Landaff: This raw, cows milk cheese is based off traditional Welsh cheese and is always a favorite for me. I loved the combo with the Comice because it brought out those earth and cellar notes. It had such a familiar taste that I just couldn’t put my finger on and it’s been driving me crazy thinking about it.

Zamorano: This raw, sheep milk cheese is similar to Manchego. A bit more of a burnt caramel flavor and more tongue tingling effects. Honestly, my only notes on this were that sheep cheese is pretty much fantastic with everything. There, I said it.

Fouette: This is a personal favorite and I will take it over cream cheese any day. It’s whipped Breton milk with guerande salt from France. This was heavenly with the Comice because the creaminess offset the sweetness but still held a slight tang at the end.

Bayley Hazen: I really wish that the pear would have been a little bit more ripe for this pairing. It was still delicious and funky with the sharpness of the blue off setting the sweetness of the pear but I feel like the contrast would have been top notch with a little more sweetness.

Ashbrook: Ben’s thought on this one really takes it. This was his favorite and he said, “The pear is like a toothbrush that cleans your mouth from the yummy, gooeyness of the cheese.” He may not have the professional words for it but he gets a palate cleanse when it comes along!

Have you tried a Comice? What did you eat with it? Any other cheese that you love to pair with this pear? I WANT TO KNOW!

 

Local Farm Focus: Heyday Farm

There are often those times when creativity can be hard to come by. The act of sitting down and writing can feel like a chore. Last week, I was in that funk so when I found myself with a free Sunday and a chance to hang out on a farm, I jumped at it.

Bainbridge Island is not far from where I live in the grand scheme of things but the ferry is not the quickest way of traveling. What it does do is offer some gorgeous views and time to get out of the car and be on water.

Situated on a 30 acre, historic, sustainable farm, Heyday Farm has put in the time and work to recreate what this piece of land could have looked like when it was first inhabited at the turn of the century, albeit with modern amenities. Honestly, I was blown away at its beauty. This land had been slated for development but during the economic downturn that idea got shelved and gave the opportunity to create something longstanding and wonderful. Heyday’s model is one that could be used by many farms. After going through so much growth, they realized that just a couple of people can’t do it on their own. Now, they have key people handling all the in’s and outs of the business. From fresh eggs and meat, produce, cheese, and even agro-tourism with an executive chef in house, they’ve really dialed in what they serve and how they service it.

They were having an event based around the use of their cider press but since I didn’t bring any receptacle to transport it, I didn’t get any. It was still quite fun to watch and the kids seemed to really enjoy the whole process.

They were tasting their cheese and it was all quite lovely. They do fresh cow and goat milk cheese. Their Fromage Blanc had a nice tang to balance the creaminess, and the truffle and porcini chèvre was nicely flavored. I’m not usually one for truffle cheese but I love it if done right. This was pretty delicious. I would have bought some but I made the mistake of not bringing cash with me. I also made the mistake of not looking in to more things on Bainbridge because they actually have a farm shop in town where they sell all of their goodies. It just gives me more to look forward to seeing the next time I take a trip to the island.

They have handy walking maps that you can grab and take a tour of the grounds at any time and so I decided to walk around and snap some pictures. It was a great place for me to play around with my camera. The beauty is just begging to be captured.

They have lodging available to rent on the property and some above the Farm store in town. Not gonna lie, I’m tempted to take a weekend. It’s so peaceful and beautiful.

Across the street from the farm is a cemetery that was built in 1880. Of course, I had to trek across and take some pics.

If you find yourself out on the island, do yourself a favor and stop by. It’s a nice little jaunt around the farm.

I took the Edmonds/Kingston ferry on the way back and even though I waited for over an hour to even get in line for the ferry, this capture made everything worth it.

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Yes, this picture was taken with effects, I don’t care because, look at it.

ACS: The Sessions

While the ACS conference is a great way to spend some time in a huge group of like minded cheese nerds, one of the best parts is the access to information that is everywhere.  From tasting sessions to history lessons, the information is wildly dynamic and reaches a scope that everyone in the industry should find useful. It can be difficult because there are often concurrent sessions that you have to make the choice as to which one is more pertinent to your life/job/interest. I’m just going to talk about the ones I went to.

 

The Opening Session:

This is always a keynote speech during breakfast that kicks off the conference and sets the tone for the weekend. This year was no exception. Ari Weinzweig is widely known in the cheese world because he owns the empire that is Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, MI. This deli/cheese shop (now with a bakery, roastery, cheese making facility, catering, mail order, leadership training, etc. Basically, they do it all) is widely known to be one of the most unique stores in the country and a lot if it has to do with the fact that Ari is an innovative business man and does things a bit differently. Ari recently released his newest book called “The Power of Beliefs at Work” and it addresses how a positive belief system can change the atmosphere and end outcome in a place of business. Ari is a dynamic speaker and he is very keyed in to what people need in their businesses and in their lives. We had group exercises that we talked about what we believed or moreso, what we believed about ourselves and our businesses. It was an interesting exercise and one that I actually feel impacted me in a way I wasn’t expecting. We all have a set of beliefs based on things that have occurred in our lives and sometimes those beliefs need to be shaken up and looked at again to make sure they are best serving us. This is what a lot of this was talking about and I’m honestly pretty interested in reading the book to learn more.

“All of us are in the same gutter but some of us are looking at the stars” Oscar Wilde

Session 1: Better Butter

Tasting sessions are everywhere during the conference and I usually don’t partake in them because I don’t drink. There are many that are pairing sessions with local cheeses and beers/wines. They sell out quickly and often have a lengthy line for people trying to get in.I’m more than happy to leave a place in line for those that are more interested in these sorts of tastings. I will say though, the butter tasting was the first thing I signed up for.

The session was run by Bob Bradley, PhD, from the Center for Dairy Research and Elaine Khosrova, author of Butter: A Rich History, due for release in November. It was an interesting take on the different ways of making butter. Elaine shared with us her travels of butter making from around the world. Small batch, cultured butters being churned by hand and cultured naturally whereas Bob showed us how industrial butter is produced and what producers are looking to make on a large scale basis. Then, we tasted butter. It was a blind tasting so we didn’t know what we were sinking our teeth in to but the butters from the milk of sheep or goat were pretty obvious from the outset. It was immensely satisfying and even more so when I was able to pinpoint one of my favorite butters on the plate.

I actually scooped up the leftovers of my favorites in a cup because I couldn’t bear for them to be wasted. I was seen walking around the conference with a cup of butter and I’m not sorry.

Cheese 201:

Yes, even at nerdy cheese events we get even nerdier. Zoe Brickley works for the Cellars of Jasper Hill in Vermont, who are a major source of scientific information in the cheese world. They have a microbiologist on staff and are committed to researching every aspect of microbiology in dairy and in the cheese making process. So much of that information can go over most people’s heads, so this session was an addition to one she did last year where she broke down some of that scientific information in a way that was accessible to those of us that that are a bit more scientifically dense. This is not information that a customer would ever ask you about but the desire for more information is needed and desired by those of us in the industry. The Cellars are also on the front lines in any squabbles with the FDA because they have the science and ability to bring to light any unnecessary actions from the government agency. As nerdy cheese people, we want to know more also. It was a heady and intense session but thats why we were all there.

 

Improving Profits by Analyzing Data: Understanding All the Rules and When to Break Them:

Hosted by Hunter Fikes from DiBruno Bros in Philly, this session was all about how to maintain a cheese selection that appeals to consumers yet drives the passions of the mongers while still making a profit. It’s a finely tuned balancing act that all cheese buyers play because if given the choice, most would buy artisanally crafted and small batch cheeses but we all know that most consumers balk at the price tag. Finding that balance can be tricky because sometimes our perceptions of what is selling is much different then what the numbers tell us. Using the data at our disposal, and some carefully crafted tricks, can make it easier for retailers to curate their selection in a way that makes those three cross sections find the perfect balance. Though I knew a lot of this information and have been using the practice for years, it stood as a great reminder to the industry that though we need the passion and drive in our mongers, we also need to be making money and giving consumers what they want.

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General Session: FDA update

Lunch time saw a huge group of people in the room due to the fact that it was the annual update from the FDA. If you may not know, the cheese industry has taken some hits from the government agency and we, as an industry, are doing our best to work with them and help educate them to what we do. The artisanal cheese industry is still pretty new in the United States so the need to have this conversation is necessary. We all want the same thing, healthy and safe food for everyone. It can be frustrating when talking about microbes with a government agency because where we see flavor and biodiversity, they see sickness and danger.

The biggest take away from this was that the FDA is pausing testing of non-toxigenic e-coli in cheese, including raw milk cheese. This is huge because we’ve had issues getting imported cheese in the country (like Roquefort) due to this testing and some small companies have scrapped making their beloved seasonal cheese due to the possibility of the FDA coming in and deeming the product unsafe and destroying months worth of work. They determined that this testing did not prove that harmful e-coli would be present in testing the non-harmful strains. If you’d like to delve in to the specifics of the update, you can find them here. It was a quiet and somewhat tense lunch, though there were moments and outbursts of clapping and cheering, but the air afterwards felt light and wonderful. It is clear that all of our hard work in educating the FDA and the general public is working.

Creative Financing

This was a panel talk from some people on the front lines of making things happen and how they gained (or are gaining) the capitol to build the enterprises of their dreams. Oliver Dameron and Sarah Dvorak from Mission Cheese in SF, Seana Doughty from Bleating Heart Cheese in Tomales, CA, and Elias Cairo from Olympia Provisions in Portland, OR, sat down for a very frank discussion about how to raise money and continue to get money for growth in an industry that isn’t know for profitability. From crowd funding, to grants, and risky ventures in between, they really laid it on the line as to what you need to have to get the  capitol to create the businesses you see today. It’s not easy and most of the time you have to put everything and then some on the line to be able to get something off the ground. So many of us dream of starting something for ourselves but the realities of the situation can be very scary and overwhelming. It was an amazing conversation about the side of things that people don’t often think about.

All Cultures Great and Small

Tom Perry was the DZTA recipient last year and this year he presented his session after months of travel and research. DZTA is the Daphne Zepos Teaching Award and it is a grant that is given to people to learn and to educate others on the history, culture, and techniques in making, aging, or selling of cheese. Tom is the third recipient and his presentation was all about the cultures that cheese makers use to craft and flavor their cheese. Nearly all of these cultures come from abroad and he posed the question about how terroir (the taste of place) in the US is affected by using microbes created elsewhere and what it would look like to start creating our own microbes here. Studying abroad and seeing what they do poses so many questions for us here at home. How will we create a terroir based solely on microbes harvested from our own areas? Where/how do we even begin to do this? What would this look like and better yet, what would this TASTE like? Once again, another heady and nerdy subject, but one that I’m excited to see explored.

 

Closing Keynote with Sandor Katz:

This year we had the pleasure of bringing Sandor Katz to give our first ever closing keynote. Sandor is widely known in the food world due to his books and lectures about fermentation. He considers himself a Fermentation Revivalist. We’ve seen so much growth and popularity in the realm of fermentation in the last few years. Kim Chi, sauerkraut, kombucha, and the old classics, beer, wine, and cheese are more popular than ever before. Sandor has helped spurn this along with his book Wild Fermentation. I feel like Sandor was a great way to end everything. We talk a lot about cleanliness and sanitation throughout conference, which is extremely important, but it was nice to see such a focus on microbes and how they benefit and are instrumental to our industry. Learning how to harness those microbes and make them work for us is exciting, crazy, and wonderful. Sandor helped remind us of that.

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This is by no means an exhaustive list of the sessions that happen at this sort of conference. There were at least 3-4 concurrent sessions going the entire time. I also took Saturday morning off from conference so I could go and enjoy Des Moines farmer’s market, which was just as wonderful as everyone said it would be. I was a little bummed I was leaving the next day so I couldn’t stock up on lots of goodies.

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If you are at all interested in the full line up of sessions offered this last year, head over to the American Cheese Society website for all the info. They also offer webinars and updates around all things cheese.

Conference, to me, is the time where we all get to come together and share in this slice of thing that we love. It’s not a sales event, though sales meetings do happen. It’s more about camaraderie and education. I’m fortunate that I get to meet so many people and learn so much every year I’m a part of this world.

My focus on the ACS conference is far from over though. Next up: PARTY TIME. Cheese people know how and love to party. I also still need to talk about the Festival of Cheese! And the awards ceremony! And the DZTA run! So much happens in the course of a week!

ACS: Judging and Competition.

To me, judging is one of the hardest jobs of the American Cheese Society conference. It may not be as physically taxing as say, a cooler captain, but it can not be understated how difficult it can be on your brain and taste buds. There is a whole lot of cheese to get through and only two days to do it!

DSC_0180This is what the racks look like when they come out and the cooler captain is in charge of making sure that the racks are in order with the right cheeses and in the right category. Depending on the category, there can be 20 or more cheeses that need to be tasted for judging. There are often multiple pieces for each entry and only one piece needs to be tasted but it’s just easier to keep them all together because their life extends well beyond judging.

Judges are separated in to teams. One aesthetic and one technical. This is an important thing to note because both are looking for different things and if we had multiple teams of aesthetic judges there would very different outcomes than what we see today. Aesthetic judges tend to be cheesemongers, shop owners, or general cheese enthusiasts and the technical judges are those that are often dairy scientists, working at the center for Dairy Research, or a university with an active agriculture program. The judges go through trainings to calibrate their palates so everyone is on the same page but the amount of tasting fatigue experienced can be hard to remedy when tasting so many cheeses. It is also difficult recognizing some of your favorite cheeses come through and being perfectly honest and frank about their flavor profiles or inconsistencies in the batches they have selected for judging. One of the things that people don’t realize or know is that every cheese gets feedback. Positive and constructive criticism. Sometimes it can be difficult to say anything constructive because it can seem like the cheese is perfect (and there were even a few this year that took home a perfect score, which is unheard of) and sometimes it can be hard to say something positive because you’ve either exhausted your words for the day or the simple fact remains that in a numbers game like this, there are bound to be some real duds.

Just imagine, also, that you’ve already tasted through a bevy of cheese and then have to prepare your tastebuds for the ultimate tasting, the Best in Show category. The blue ribbons in each category are pulled to the side and set up for a round table tasting of epic proportions. This year we prepared 105 cheeses for Best in Show tasting. It’s an amazing ordeal and I always feel so proud to be able to be a part of this particular tasting.

From here, the results are tallied and sent off to the printer to prepare for the Friday night awards ceremony. The J&C committees jobs, including my time as a cooler captain, are done but the cheese is passed on to the next set of volunteers for the Festival of Cheese.

To see life from the other side of the curtain, check out my friend Gordon Edgar’s post on being a judge. There is some great info on how they can judge all those cheeses.

 

The next installment though, regional tours. I went on a PORK TOUR!