Vermont Cheesemakers Festival
Hot, stormy weather threatened the early hours of the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival, but fortunately, the sun came out for a great event. Our cheesemakers Sam Bevet, Katherine Howe, our intern Mike Murphy, Tom Gardner and I were at our Shelburne Farms table in shifts throughout the day, sharing our product, process, and place with more than 1,700 cheese enthusiasts.
It was very satisfying for guests to be able to immediately connect our product to not just the people who craft it, but to the working landscape on which the whole operation rests. Our “sun-to-cheese” story was right before their eyes – from the Brown Swiss cows pastured near the road, to the cheddar being sampled.
A personal highlight for me (and other Cheese Fest participants) was sharing the story of one wheel of washed-rind cheddar that we were sampling for the crowd.
Early this year, as an R&D experiment, we had sent a small cheddar wheel that we made last summer to our friends at Sugarhouse Creamery in Upper Jay, NY. After initially brine-washing the wheel, Creamery cheesemakers Margot, Alex, and Casey washed the cheese in a local beer from Au Sable Brewing Company, and aged the wheel for six months. The result was divine. The cheese featured a brilliant, orange-yellow interior with a bright clean flavor and a gorgeous peachy-colored rind coated with a spider web of white mold. It was definitely a big hit at the Festival. And it’s fun to work creatively with other folks equally committed to making a great product.
There were so many artisans serving up such beautifully crafted cheese, complementary food items, and beverages. It’s hard to single any out. But for myself, I thoroughly enjoyed a fantastic cherry port preserve from Vicky and Joe of Blake Hill Preserves (we carry some of their products in our catalog). I also enjoyed a new (unlabeled) bottling of Vermont cider from friends David and Colin at Shacksbury Cider, and a chance conversation with Joan from Effie’s Homemade about possibly developing a cheddar cracker for us.
It was a pleasure to meet the makers and be a part of this year’s Cheese Fest in my new capacity as Cheese Sales Manager at the Farm. The Farm is such a perfect place to showcase Vermont-grown and Vermont-crafted food products like our own. (If you’re in doubt, check out this blog “How Vermont has become the ‘Napa Valley’ of Cheese Making,” as it gushes about Shelburne Farms).
As founding members of the Vermont Cheese Council, who bring you the Cheese Fest each year, Shelburne Farms is committed to the Festival’s “Vermont-grown” message, and proud of the success and recognition it’s received.
So save the date for next year’s 8th annual Cheese Fest: July 17, 2016! See you there!