Eh hem...where did I leave off...oh yes...cheesefest, day 3...
Day 3 - The Cheescars: After pealing myself out of bed, I was lucky enough to find a seat in what was ultimately my favorite session of the conference, Affinage. The definition of the word can be controversial, but refers to the process of caring for & aging cheese to it's optimal state. Traditionally, this is done in caves to provide the most ideal & consistent temperature, humidity & air flow. An amazing panel was on hand to discuss the topic! Herve Mons, world renowned affineur of Meilleur Ouviere de France, Mateo Kehler of the Cellars at Jasper Hill in Vermont, & Ihsan Gurdal of Fromaggio Kitchen. Over lunch, we received an update from the ACS board members and in the afternoon I attend yet another seminar. Though I did grab a few curds of info on the block market of cheese, The Politics of American Cheese was sort of a snore. So, maybe take a nap, and I will save you the reading.
Meanwhile, the Hilton was a tizzy in anticipation of the awards show, or as I like to call it, The Cheescars. First, Second, & Third place awards are given for a variety of categories (soft ripened, washed rind, blue, cheddar...and many more) and the 2009 Best in Show is announced at the end & the crowd goes wild. Like the Oscars for cheesemakers, hence Cheesecars (for those of you that are a little behind schedule). The 2nd place award for best in show, sort of like best supporting cheeser, went to Cowgirl Creamery of California for their Red Hawk (woot woot!) and this years top honor in cheese goes to (are you as nervous as I was?!?)...Rogue Creamery of Oregon for Rogue River Blue! Cue Stevie..."isn't she looovely, isn't she wooondeeerful..." Post ceremony everyone was invited to Stubb's for some famous Texas BBQ & Wisconsin beer. No dairy this meal...probably a good thing.
Day 4 - The Final Final: One last day of sessions with the American Cheese Society & then off to the airport to meet up with me Mum (yes, my mother booked a flight last minute to join the fun...the stories are sure to be quite entertaining) for some cheese in the UK.
My day 4 sessions were on building grass roots momentum (cheesers tweet!) from a wonderful panel of cheese buzz builders & for the final final, I tasted & paired local Texas beer & cheese. YEE HAW! I will remember this as the day I feel in love with Pure Luck Grade A Dairy's Hopelessly Blue. I also had the pleasure of meeting Ben, who lives on & helps run the farm & cheese making outfit with his wife, Amelia, & it's clear that a lot of love goes into making this delightful treat. Unfortunately for me, this beautiful farmstead cheese does not make it far from Austin, but I am hopeful that my dear new friend Greg will be sending me some once I return to SF. Yes? Greg? Are you there? I need it.
After all that American cheese & Texas-style ruckus, I head to the airport...next stop, London...well Dallas first actually, where I will continue to seemingly endless search for a respectable airport meal, then London.