Thursday morning at the American Cheese Society Conference started with opening activities that included Keynote Speaker, Author Odessa Piper, who was a proponent of eating local before it was fashionable. Odessa took us through her life’s journey which began by tending a garden in New Hampshire on a farm practicing sustainable agriculture before it was fashionable… as Spaulding Gray would say… “I see a theme forming here…” and included owning and running L’Etoile, a local Madison Restaurant that created its dishes around local meats, dairy, vegetables and fruits… making her one of the original American Locavores, long… wait for it… before it was fashionable…
While being entertained by Ms. Piper, we were treated to a breakfast that included a cheese plate sponsored by the Vermont Cheese Council and prepared by our Cheesemonger Friend, Leah McFadden, ACS CCP, one of our featured Mongers in our series, The Year of the Cheesemonger.
Not on the plate, but certainly part of the Vermont Cheese Palette, was butter from Allison Hooper and Bob Reese’s Vermont Creamery. Allison spent a summer working on a dairy farm in France where she learned to make European-style butter. And The Man certainly does swoon every time he has “real” butter… once you’ve had European-style butter… you can never go back. If only our American Dairymen would make more “real” butter…
One constant at the ACS Conference is the abundance of cheese; every meal includes cheese plates donated by various Cheese Guilds, Vendors or Retailers. You have to pace yourself… but when an especially inviting cheese plate sits in the middle of your table… pacing yourself flies out the door… such was the Vermont Cheese Plate:
From Cabot Creamery Cooperative was Vintage Choice Cheddar. Aged 24 months, this crumbly, full-flavored cheddar is sweet and nutty. You can always count on cheese from this 1200 farm cooperative to be a quality, approachable cheese that is not only kid-friendly, but respectable for adult cheese connoisseurs.
From the Cellars at Jasper Hill was a creamy, fruity washed rind, Willoughby, named after a popular lake in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Jasper Hill Farm began making this cheese following a fire that destroyed the Ploughgate Creamery in 2011. Willoughby won 1st Place in its class at this year’s ACS Conference.
Consider Bardwell contributed Pawlet, a natural rind cheese made with raw, Jersey Cow milk. I first tasted this cheese at the 2010 ACS Conference in Seattle. You can read Spaulding’s review by clicking here.
Grafton Village Cheddar provided their nutty and sweet 2 year cheddar. This tarty mellow cheese has more than a dozen awards under its belt and is Grafton Village’s “signature” cheddar.
Another raw milk on the plate was Neighborly Farms’ Sharp Cheddar. The Dimmick Family runs an organic farm free of chemicals, antibiotics, hormones and commercial fertilizers. Their farmstead cheddar is aged up to 18 months and is full-flavored lingering on the palette.
Another 2013 ACS Winner on the plate was Shelburne Farms’ Farmhouse 2 Year Cheddar which won 2nd Place in its class. Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit education organization whose mission is to cultivate a conservation ethic for a sustainable future. This cheese is made using raw milk from the farms’ pure-bred Brown Swiss cows. Grassy and full-flavored; very tasty.
The final cheese on this outstanding Vermont Cheese Plate was Reading, a Raclette-style cheese from Spring Book Farms. Creamy with just a hint of tang, this cheese is a perfect melting cheese. However, it held its own with the other fine cheeses on this plate.
All-in-all, it was a wonderfully cheesy way to begin the 2013 American Cheese Society Conference. Had Spaulding been there, I’m sure he would have awarded this cheese plate 4 Paws… cause that’s all he’s got…