Tales from Cheesecon

CheeseCon

Dear reader, as I type this I am trundling from Wisconsin to New York, via Philadelphia, with my little cheese valise in tow aboard Amtrak train #646. The work of a cheese courtesan is never done. She must hustle books, bites, and bright wisdom. Bear with me as I regale you with a few photos from last week’s journey to CheeseCon. There were so many highlights, I hardly know where to start. And I’m still not finished telling you about my recent trip to Vermont.

Here are some images to sustain us both. May you be lollygagging somewhere with a gooey round of Winnemere nearby. Perhaps you’ve heard, it won Best of Show last Saturday — making it the #1 American cheese. What a dream to think of this bark-bound washed-rind wonder from Jasper Hill in Vermont winning the jackpot. Do you know how pleased I am for that little stinker?

Highlights from Last Week

CheeseCon is always a chance to reconnect with old friends. I couldn’t wait to see my old pal Paul Lawler (a former cheesmonger and a former intern for Cricket Creek in MA) who is now developing goat cheeses for Cranberry Creek Farm in the Pocono Mountains. The minute I saw him, I made him crack open his suitcase and do a demo.

Paul Lawler with new cheeses

Paul Lawler cuts into his new gorgeous goat cheeses from Cranberry Creek (PA)

Since CheeseCon was in Madison, I finally got to eat at Forequarter where my old friends, the Hunter brothers, serve some of the best cured meats, craft cocktails, and inventive rurally wrangled cusisine. The blistered shiso peppers and served with Parm shavings were a revelation.

Dinner at ForequarterBlistered shiso peppers with Parm

At the great Feast of Cheese, I sampled some wild new beasties and was especially excited by some unusual goat cheese selections. Look, this goat log from Rivers Edge in Oregon is colored with anatto — who’d a thunk? And below it: the best goat Cheddar I’ve ever tasted (from Avalanche Cheese in Colorado). And it’s bandaged. My heart fluttered.

River Edge Chevre BeltaneAvalanche Reserve Goat Cheddar

Amid the cheese glitterati, I met some people I’ve written about over the last year — remember that “From Zingerman’s With Love” post, where I wrote about a cheesemonger named Chad who sent me a wedge of Charloe from Canal Junction in Ohio? At CheeseCon, I met Chad in the flesh, along with Charloe’s maker, Brian Schlatter. What a treat.

Chad Hayes of Zingerman's (L), Brian Schlatter of Canal Junction Cheese, and moi

Chad Hayes of Zingerman’s (L), Brian Schlatter of Canal Junction Cheese, and moi

I also got a kick out of meeting two cheesemonger bloggers in the flesh: Gordon Edgar of Gordonzola and Shannon Tallman. Shannon is a cheesemonger at the Whole Foods in Portland, Maine and she blogs at Edible Obsessions.

Shannon Tallman and Gordon Edgar

Shannon Tallman and Gordon Edgar

Such are the highlights of CheeseCon. A big thanks to my brother, Andre Darlington, for organizing multiple cheese book events. The Di Bruno clan and I had two great bashes — we sold out our 6-course cheese feast at Osteria Papavero and had a great crowd at our Square Wine book signing.

Dinner at Papavero in Madison

Dinner at Papavero in Madison

Emilio Mignucci and Matt Schenkle of Di Bruno Bros. with me at our Square Wine event

Emilio Mignucci and Matt Schenkle of Di Bruno Bros. with me at our Square Wine event

Curious about the Cheese Oscars that were awarded on Saturday? Here’s a list of winners — the best North American cheeses selected from more than 1800 entries.

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