The One Where I Ate 2,000 Cheeses (almost)

Imagine you’re in a place where cheese is served for breakfast, lunch and snacks. Where you are surrounded by paintings of cheese, cheese books, and even cheese t-shirts, with over 2,000 cheeses just waiting to be tasted. Now picture heaven… is it all that different?  

There are some moments in your life when you ask yourself, “How did I get here?”

The American Cheese Society is a four day conference all about….. cheese. Believe it or not, it’s true, and it is part of my job to attend.

Working in the cheese world has brought me all over the country, from NYC, to San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Denver and Vermont. One of the many marvels of cheese is that it is very indicative of the places where it is made. At every ACS conference, local producers share with you their cheese and the artisanal wonders of whatever city you are visiting. There are lectures, tastings and interactive classes all geared towards those of us in the world of cheese. One of the highlights is always the amazing “Meet the Makers” event. We were able to meet up with some of our favorite cheese friends, taste new cheeses and chat with the makers of your favorites, like Flory’s Truckle and Shelburne Cheddar. I tasted some fantastic cheeses that we will be rolling into the shop in the upcoming months, even a cheese from Indiana that tastes like BUTTERED PASTA (we can’t wait).

Then there is the “Festival of Cheese” where you can taste all 2,000+ cheeses that were entered into the competition. At first, you walk in and don’t know where to start, but soon you start wandering your way to the island of magical blues, the cloud of creamy dreamy bloomies, smooth goudas, stanky washed rinds, cheddars and burratas galore. You can grab a glass of wine or a cold beer and walk around for hours eating cheese on tables adorned with all the best cheese buddies like crackers, olives, pickles, fruit, even toffee brittle.

The Best in Show cheese this year was…….HARBISON from the Cellars at Jasper Hill in Greensboro, VT. I was not at all surprised. Last year, it cracked the top 3 and even though I am lucky enough to hang out with this cheese every day , there is still something so incredibly special about it. It is so ooey and gooey, meaty and smoky, woodsy and mushroomy. What more could you want in a cheese?. It is one of those cheeses that is a showstopper and one that has inspired many of our creative pairings. Might we even suggest some black truffle potato chips or some cajun flavored tots for dipping? If you want to get a little crazy, next time you have french fries, cut the top off and dip into a Harbison. (I may or may not have also dunked some McNuggets in it one night after one too many Nightshift Brews).Truly, the possibilities are endless. Thanks for the memories ACS!

- Julianne