This weekend brought one of the cheesiest events of the year: the American Cheese Society Competition Awards and Festival of Cheese, aka, Cheese-a-topia. This annual event is a turophile’s dream which includes tastings, cheese making classes, guest speakers and a judging competition that is like the Oscars of Cheese for American cheesemakers. This year, the cheeses were judged on both technical and aesthetic merits by 30 distinguished judges, including Portland’s own Steve Jones of Cheese Bar.
Cheese-a-topia 2010 was held in Seattle, a fitting location given that the Pacific Northwest has become a hotbed for artisan cheesemakers over this past decade. Out of the 1,462 cheeses and cultured dairy products presented by 225 producers from 34 states, our Northwestern dairy queens and kings took home a whopping 42 awards for lactic excellence.
A big, cheesy congratulations to the three PFM vendors who represented in the winners’ circle! Lisa Jacobs of Jacob’s Creamery placed for her luscious creme fraiche. Nabbing three awards, including first place for their cheddar flavored with Morimoto Soba Ale, was the venerable Rogue Creamery. And taking home an impressive five awards was Willamette Valley Cheese Co., who wowed in several categories, including “original recipe sheep’s milk,” for which their Perrydale took home first prize.
Even if you don’t know your cheddar from your camembert from your castelmagno, please stop by the market to sample some of these award-winning cheeses–not to mention the dozens of other excellent cheeses available from our local artisans. Whether on a cracker, sprinkled over a salad, melted between two slices of bread or bubbling atop a pizza, these cheeses are simply delicious. And you don’t need a panel of judges to tell you that.