Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Katie Carter, cheesemonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway)
Winter is, by far, the busiest season for cheesemongers. Holidays and family gatherings call for great food and cheese is always invited. The quieter summer months, on the other hand, allow cheese professionals to visit farms and creameries, attend cheese conferences and food shows, and compete in cheese competitions.
Events like these elevate our appreciation and knowledge of handmade cheese and help propel cheese to higher levels through the sharing of ideas and information. To a cheese professional, there’s nothing better than geeking out with other pros and enjoying many new cheeses, all while pondering the future of cheese. We come back to the cheese counter refreshed, full of insight, and ready to take on the next busy season. Here are just three out of many events coming up soon.
This Saturday, hundreds of cheese professionals and lovers will flock to a cheese warehouse in Long Island City, NY for this annual cheesemonger competition. Cheesemongers from across the country (even a cheesemonger from Hawaii!) will compete for the title of best cheesemonger. Battles include an exam, crafting a “perfect bite”, and creating a beverage and cheese pairing on the fly.
This event, held by cheese importer Adam Moskowitz, is really more cheese insanity than a formal competition. It is a party, a friendly competition, and a celebration of the art of selling amazing cheese. And, yes, Your Cheesemonger will be there competing and mingling with her fellow mongers and makers. You can follow the competition on twitter @afinacheese or @larkin4life.
This all-day festival, held at the historic Shelburne Farm, features over 40 Vermont cheese producers, as well as other Vermont food artisans. In addition to sampling handcrafted cheese, guests can attend cooking and cheesemaking demos and sit in on a few cheese related workshops. Though I have never been, I am sure Vermont is an absolutely beautiful escape from the D.C. region’s sweltering summer heat.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the ACS Conference, a major milestone in American cheese. Cheese professionals from across the country come to attend workshops, seminars, and tastings during this four day cheese convention. There is also a cheese competition (last year there were over 1,700 entries), making this event the Oscars of the American artisanal cheese world. It culminates with a festival of cheese, a truly daunting yet delicious event.
These events are in no way limited to cheese professionals. Use them as an excuse to get out of town and elevate your foodie status from cheese lover to genuine curd nerd.
Katie Carter is Arlington’s first and only ACS Certified Cheese Professional. She has worked in the cheese industry for ten years as a cheesemaker, cheesemonger, and educator. She can be found on Twitter @AfinaCheese. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.