Monday, July 26, 2010

Day One Sixty Six - VT Catch-up Part Two - Vermont Cheesemaker's Festival

The 2nd annual Vermont Cheesemaker's Festival was held at the Coach Barn at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne Vermont and featured fifty cheesemakers, twenty different wineries and breweries, and fifteen artisanal food purveyours along with tasting seminars, cooking shows, cheesemaking demos and farm tours. As I learned, last year's festival attracted one thousand visitors and this year's sold a whopping fifteen hundred tickets. Keep in mind this is not a large space, it's not like having a cheese festival at the Jacob Javitz center in Manhattan.

Luckily as a cheese blogger, we were able to arrive an hour early to the festivities so that I could snap the shots you will soon see and so that we could actually chat with the cheesemakers. When we left, about an hour into the actual event, there were lines ten to fifteen people deep for each station, making for, if you ask me, an extremely unpleasant experience!

What were my favorites??!

Wine wise which is way easier than cheese wise:

1. Shelburne Vineyard's Pinot Gris - Crisp, acidic, and citrus-y, this is an extremely versatile wine easily served with seafood, cheese, salads, fruit, desserts and more. Easy drinking without sacrificing taste or small production or extravagant pricing. This wine rang in at $15 a bottle.

2. Boyden Valley's Cowtipper - No they don't tip cows at this vineyard, but I'm sure the name caught your attention as it did mine! Also a crisp white wine, this was fruity, light, and refreshing! It is made of Le Crescent grapes and fermented in stainless steel. Reminiscent of a variation on a Riesling mixed with a Sauvignon Blanc, this was Vermont terroir bottled into a wine -- full of apricot and pear notes, its hard to go wrong when having a glass of this!

Cheese wise:

Although everything was delish, there were a few cheeses that I had not had before that were standouts. In the "I've had you before, I love you category" were:

1. All Vermont Butter and cheese cheeses - Coupole, Bijou, Bonne Bouche, & Cremont - Too much to describe here! America meets the Loire Valley -- these cheeses are excellent examples of the craft of American cheese making, each more delish than the last. Coupole, Bijou and Bonne Bouche are all goat's milk cheeses and Cremont is their new cow and goat's milk double cream cheese that is milky, luscious and decadent. Coupole and Bijou are aged goat's milk cheeses and bonne bouche is an ash ripened goat's milk cheese. I'd have to say that the VBC cheeses are among my favorites coming out of Vermont, that's for sure!

2. Jasper Hill Farm's Bayley Hazen Blue - A raw cow's milk blue that's been aged for four to six months, this is a drier and crumbly blue that has all the pungency you are used to with a nice dosage of Vermont terroir in each bite, along with a faint chocolaty, nutty finish. One of my go-to blues, always reliable and a crowd pleasing cheese.

3. Consider Bardwell Farm's Manchester - Although I know I've discussed this cheese before, to refresh your memory it is an aged goat's milk tomme named for the town of Manchester, the gateway to the Green Mountains. It is what you want out of an aged goat milk tomme - firm, lactic, grassy with a faint hay note, creamy but light.

4. Spring Brook Farm/Thistle Hill's Tarentaise - check out Day One Sixty Four to learn about this guy.

5. Twig Farm's Goat Tomme - Another goat milk tomme that is delish and full of those classic goaty notes!

6. Dancing Cow's Bouree - Aged for at least eighty days, this washed rind cow's milk cheese is a party in your mouth. Named after the French peasant dance with rapid foot movements, this cheese sure has a dynamic flavor profile -- full of creamy, milky notes yet with some smokey, earthy tones as well. Worth a try for something new!

New Discoveries!

1. Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home's Fresh Chevre - Wow was this cheese amazing! Yes it is just a simple straight forward chevre, but when done right like this it just knocks your socks off! You can tell that these goats are taken care of as their milk lends itself to a great chevre. This cheese has a depth to it that makes you want to keep going back for more!

2. Narragansett Creamery's Atwell's Gold - Although I remember Narragansett's booth from the previous year's cheese fest, I most certainly did not remember Atwell's Gold and it sure is memorable. A large block of aged cow's milk cheese made in an Italian style, this was a nutty, buttery morsel of goodness. It sure puts Rhode Island on the map for cheese.

3. Lazy Lady Farm's Mixed Emotion - I know Lazy Lady's cheeses -- always fantastic, they are certainly made with love and care. However I had never had Mixed Emotion which is a mixed milk (cow and goat) cheese with a natural herbacious rind, this cheese is only available from June till December. It is farmy, barnyardy, herbal, grassy and all around fantastic!

4. Nettle Meadow's Honey Lavender Fromage Blanc - As you all know, I love Nettle Meadow Farm's cheeses such as the Kunik made in Upstate New York, however I had never had their honey lavender fromage blanc and boy and oh boy have I been missing out! This was to die for! Perfectly made fromage blanc with hits of honey for sweetness and lavender for that herbal floral twist. Great for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and desserts!

There are tons of other cheeses I loved but I think that's a good recap, now check out some pics from the festival! It will make you want to go next year, I'm sure!

More pics to follow over the course of the week folks :)

Check back a little later for this week's Marriage Mondays star, Vermont Butter and Cheese's Bijou

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Rebecca for enjoying Atwell's Gold. I'm a cheesemaker at Narragansett Creamery and we're so proud of that cheese! Happy eating!


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