Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 531 : Vermont Cheese-cation Post # 3 - The Visual Tour

Wish you could have gone to the Vermont Cheesemakers Fest but just couldn't fit it into your busy summer travel schedule? Well folks don't worry, I'm here to provide you with the visuals and reviews to boot! Cheeses to check out, new developments, local Vermont produce and more!! Unfortunately I didn't get great shots of everything, but if I didn't get a shot of something that I think should be mentioned, just check at the bottom for my reviews. 

Spring Brook Farm's new cheese known as Reading. Semi-soft and pliable, great for melting purposes. Made with the same equipment utilized to make their award winning Tarentaise, one of my favorites. Reading, unlike Tarentaise is aged for approximately three months. It is creamy, almost sweet, with lightly toasted nutty notes. I imagine it would be great in pastas or grilled cheeses or served with some dried fruit and marcona almonds and a glass of light red wine. A must try if you like Tarentaise or Alpine Style cheeses.

Grafton Village Cheese's spread

And their new exciting release!!! Their first Raw Milk cheese aged at least sixty days known as Bismark. They also manufacture a truffle infused Bismark. This was the first time it was available for public consumption and boy was it wonderful! Nutty and caramelly with an excellent depth of flavor profile. This my friends is a sophisticated cheese and one most certainly worth seeking out. A Fromagical top pick!

Castleton Crackers - Handcrafted artisanal Vermont made flatbread crackers. They come in Middlebury Maple, Rutland Rye, Windham Wheat, Putney Pumpkin, and Richmond Rosemary. A great cracker for cheese -- flavorful and delish!

Vermont Butter and Cheese's spread -- one of the festival sponsors and a must try if you haven't ever had their Coupole, Cremont, Bijou, or Bonne Bouche. They also make a decadent butter and a soft spreadable creamy goat's milk cheese. We all know, Coupole is near and dear to my heart.

Baguettes anyone for your cheese?

Shelburne Farms Cheeses - the hosts of the fest at Coach Barn at Shelburne Farms. They had a tasting of their 1 year old, 2 year old, and 3 year old farmstead Cheddars -- a great way to educate people about the distinctions in flavor profile that develop from the aging process.

The Cellars at Jasper Hill -- cheese trading cards? Is this the way forward? Yes folks, it is their new thing! Small cards describing each of the cheeses in their lineup. Imagine what would happen if all the American artisanal farms had cheese trading cards, I'll trade you "Red Hawk" for "Piper's Pyramid"...

Cabot's 3 year reserve cheddar

The layout at Provisions International -- a wholesale purveyor of cheeses and other gourmet foods located in White River Junction. They ship up and down the East Coast and don't just have cheese but other fantastic edibles as well.

One of a view chocolatiers at the event -- chocolate and cheese, have you tried it? It's worth the shot if you haven't! Wondering how to pair it? Try a spicy dark chocolate with an aged goat's milk cheese or gingery-fruity chocolate with an aged nutty Alpine style cheese. Shoot me an email if you'd like more tips!

One of many local breweries present.

Westfield Farm in Hubbardston, MA - One of my top non-Vermont cheese picks! Their wasabi chevre is to die for! Spicy, tangy, citrusy, and everything wonderful. Also somewhat new to their lineup and definitely worth the indulgence is their calabrini which is a fresh creamy chevre infused with sundried tomato, basil, garlic, and olive oil. A classic combo done well, you cannot go wrong here. I like the boldness of cheese infusion choice on their part -- trying something a little different than the norm makes you stand out!

Homemade local artisanal dips and spreads...

Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company -- a newbie! They first started making cheese in January and released their first cheeses in June and they are already "tango-ing" with the big guns! Of my favorite cheeses they had on offer was their WindsorDale, made in the style of a traditional English farmhouse Wensleydale. Creamy and semi-soft with notes of green apples and honey and a bright herbaceous finish. Definitely a top pick especially because they felt like they had been around forever but were and are just getting their cheese "sea-legs."

Fat Toad Farm -- infused chevres, yes they are fantastic chevres but impossible to find to visit. 

And they also make homemade caramel...

One of the many local artisans...infused vinaigrettes made by "It's Arthur's Fault."

Putney Winery -- Vermont's fruit winery -- they infuse blueberries, rhubarb, cassis, cranberries and more into their wines. If you go the sweet route with wines, definitely check them out, you won't be disappointed!

Root Cellar Preserves -- pickles and more! A Fromagical pick is their cranberry beets! The tartness of the cranberries is combined with the earthy, vegetal alive qualities of the beets on the backdrop of the brine-y qualities of pickling. Root Cellars served them with Fat Toad Farm's Chevre on a mini toast -- yum! Ever thought of pairing pickles with cheese? If not, you should try, a sweet and spicy pickle with an aged cheddar, you will be surprised!

Boston Post Dairy's Goudas -- Looking for a simple, crowd pleasing cheese, good for the five year olds, sixty five year olds, and the thirty-something foodies? Well then grab their Goat's Milk Sharp Tomme, I guarantee it will delight each and everyone of your guests. Another Fromagical pick for a great straightforward and simple cheese choice! 

The local jams, fresh fruit preserved into jars, can't go wrong here with some fresh chevre and a nice French Baguette.

Perhaps like this one?

Really Fromagical? This doesn't look too exciting! But fret not, it is Champlain Valley Creamery's first release of their own homemade queso fresco. What is Queso Fresco you might be wondering? As per the translation, it is a fresh cheese that tends to be white, creamy, soft, milk, and lactic. Traditionally found in Spain, Central and South America. It is easy to make and what better time for Champlain Valley to debut their new queso fresco than the cheesemakers fest? 

Bonnieview Farm's Mossend Blue -- Fromagical's blue cheese pick for the day; granted I love Bayley Hazen Blue from the Cellars at Jasper Hill but Mossend has a raw piquance that just delights! One hundred percent sheep's milk cheese aged for two years -- it can convert the blue cheese nay-sayers. 

Another Vermont winery on display, unfortunately the line was too long, to taste, but hopefully when I go on my Vermont winery weekend, I will. I love the fact that Vermont wineries utilized American soil specific cold weather grapes developed in Minnesota...stay tuned later in the week for a longer explanation of this...and a reveal of my favorite Vermont winery.

Narragansett Creamery -- another non-Vermont creamery but boy do they make the best Mozzarella in Rhode Island in my opinion -- it just melts in your mouth. Their Atwell's Gold, a firm aged cow's milk cheese is totally crave-able too. A huge crowd lingered around their stand -- showing that they were a true crowd pleaser!

Vermont Ice Wines -- remember that statement about cold weather grapes a little while back? Doesn't it make sense that we find a proliferation of ice wines. A treat if you like the sweet route :)

Olivia's Croutons -- looking for homemade croutons? Look no further!

Tarentaise, previously mentioned, and utterly fantastic. I especially admire farms that work with children and the folks behind the Tarentaise production, Thistle Hill and Spring Brook, most certainly do! Why not help underprivileged and developmentally challenged children through the issues by teaching them how to live off the land and work with their hands, right?

A view of the entry tent

 And now a few other top picks, yes Fromagical loved a lot of cheeses documented with pictures as her top picks but here are three others I think you should know about:

1. Willow Hill's Summer Tomme - Bloomy rind sheep's milk cheese that has been coated with the farm's own personal mix of herbs to provide the consumer with the perfect balance of milky creamy unctuousness and the fresh, green vegetal herbaceous-ness. Sometimes cheeses coated in herbs become either too much about the cheese or too much about the herbs and here it is the perfect happy medium!

2. Blue Ledge Farm Crottina -- looking for a great and straight-forward bloomy rind goat's milk cheese imbued with the terroir of its origin? Then Blue Ledge's Crottina is a great choice!

3. Sage Farm Goat Dairy's Sterling -- Valencay cheesemaking styles meet the down to earth innovation of Vermont cheesemaking, a definite must!

Overall a great way to learn about new cheese developments; see where cheesemakers have been in the past year; and well make good cheese-y connections! A great time was had by all!

I'm hoping to get a list of cheeses offered at the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival that you can also find in New York city for my interested and curious Fromagical readers as I know you might not want to order a cheese online and wait for its arrival, you might just want the instant gratification. 

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