Three Cheese Macaroni

Comfort Food: Lasagna

BBQ Grilled Cheese

Pork Sandwiches


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

August 25-29, 2010 was a great time for me. I had the opportunity to head out to Seattle, WA for the infamous 'Cheese-a-topia', American Cheese Society's annual event. How did I get there? I volunteered. Luckily my husband racks up quite the frequent flyer points, so I was able to fly pretty inexpensively. I volunteered over 24 hours of my time during the course of the event in order to attend the conference at little - at no cost. It. was. awesome. Like, heaven - because there was cheese, everywhere. Are you starting to get my point? I had a blast - and got really full.

My first day consisted of being ready by 6:00am to cut and prepare different cheeses. My first task was to arrange 29 trays of assorted blue cheeses for a blue cheese tasting workshop. I couldn't help but think of my mom the whole time. She LOVES blue cheese - and is the reason I ever decided to try it.  Two of the cheeses were from Faribault Dairy based in my home state of Minnesota.  Once I completed this project, I was sent upstairs to cut and wrap cheeses that were to be sold at the big sale that following Sunday. This was the perfect way to try some exotic cheeses and really get a sense of the variety and quality that the U.S. can produce. Here are just SOME of the cheeses that I got to work with:

Oh no! Not orange cheese!

My awesome fellow cheese cutters/wrappers

The rest of the afternoon, I spent time in a few workshops to learn more about the cheesemaking industry. I'm perfectly comfortable with the dairy industry, but this is a whole new group of people.  One workshop was a discussion about raw milk cheese vs. pasteurized milk cheese - the second was about milk quality, and its importance in making a quality cheese.
That night, a reception was held at the aquarium on the harbor. It was absolutely beautiful and a perfect setting for the social event.  The fish were even interested in what we were all about - well, they were all facing the 2010 ACS sign anyways.

We tried a multitude of cheeses, which were brought in by the dairy farmers of Oregon (the hosts of the reception). From goats milk cheeses to hard cows milk cheese - it was abundant.
Photos sometimes speak better than words, so here you go:
The next day, I served as a session host for a few workshops and tried out some excellent hors d'oeuvres. This one is a chocolate cube with blueberries and goat cheese.  Below are a few more goat milk cheese treats:

Here are some photos from the Wisconsinites' hosted event. We sampled some exceptional cheeses and had some of my favorite, Leinenkugels' Honeyweiss brewskies.

So.. you're probably starting to think that I didn't really do that much during the course of the conference. Well I'm about to prove you wrong. Below is a table - it's empty:

Ok, now check this out:

I was in charge of a crew of about 3 - 4 people to get this table neatly arranged and labeled for sampling at the Festival of Cheeses. Fortunately, I only had to work on one of the 50-some tables. It took hours... I snuck out for a while to catch Michael Pollan speaking about 'only eating food that doesn't rot' and presenting some Kraft singles to express the opposite of what this event represented.  He was an excellent speaker - I'm going to be honest in saying that I don't necessarily agree with everything he promotes, but I did enjoy his closing session.

The Festival of Cheeses was a great event that began with the award ceremony. 225 producers from 34 states, Canada, and Mexico entered 1,462 cheeses and cultured dairy products -- a record-breaking year.Vermont took home quite the loot. My favorite, Grafton Maple Smoked cheddar won the Smoked Cheddars category and a few loves came in 2nd and 3rd over-all; Vermont Butter & Cheese's Bonne Bouche and Farm City for Kids' Tarentaise.  I recommend checking them out. The best of show went to Uplands Cheese Co's Extra Aged Pleasant Ridge Reserve.

Here's our finished table at the festival! 

To close, I'm going to show some photos of a few highlighted cheeses during the festival. Please check out their websites and explore your taste for artisinal American cheeses. You won't regret it.


Linda said...

The cheese table looks fabulous!! Is the event held in a different city each year?

September 9, 2010 at 10:31 PM
Alise said...

Doesn't it though? ACS will be in Montreal next year.

September 10, 2010 at 6:52 AM

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