Cheese on the Show Floor

David | Blog | October, 02 2011 | No Comment

Last month I had the chance to conduct a wine and cheese tasting followed by a beer and cheese tasting at a trade show in Atlanta.  We went with five great U.S. artisan cheeses paired with five American wines the first day, and five American craft beers the following day. The tastings were conducted in a cooking demonstration area, right on the trade show floor in the mid-afternoon.

Saison De Lente was a big hit at our recent tasting.

The lineup included multi-award winners like Pleasant Ridge Reserve, and Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, style-standards like Rogue Creamery’s Caveman Blue and Allagash White, and upstarts like  Saison de Lente from the Brewery, and Cigar City’s Jai-Alai. In selecting wines we quizzed the cheesemakers and other experts on what varietals to pair with.

The occasion was the International Dairy Show, organized by International Dairy Foods Association., the Washington-based trade group representing companies like Dean Foods, Dannon, Nestle Ice Cream (Dreyer’s, Edy’s, and Ben and Jerry’s), and Sargento Cheese, as well as numerous local and regional dairy companies.  Managers from those companies walk the floor, where their suppliers (equipment, ingredients and packaging), display their own goods and services.

Many of these folks know a great deal about cheese, and like audiences anywhere, many among them are intrigued by the idea of putting complex flavors together to see what happens.

The wine and cheese pairings were well received. If I recall, the Clothbound Cheddar and Pinot Noir combo might have received the most nods.  I think a couple participants called it a 4.5 or 5 out of 5.  The beer pairing session drew a slightly larger crowd and maybe a few more oohs and ahhs. Belle Chevre’s Honey Breakfast Chevre, paired with Allagash White was a 5 of 5 consensus. Same for the Pleasant Ridge with Saison De Lente. I loved the Caveman with a Taylor LBV Port, but many of the participants found the cheese to be too salty. I thought it was spot on.

All-in-all it was really great to do these kinds of tastings for this kind of audience, and in this setting. It was also great catching up with the folks at the IDFA with whom I have had a long and pleasant relationship through my trade magazine activities covering the dairy business.

Speaking of events and cheese (and beer), on Saturday October 8, folks in Portland, Ore., will celebrate all things cheese with The Wedge. organized by the Oregon Cheese Guild, the farmer’s market-style event will be held in front of the Green Dragon Bistro & Brewpub, located at 928 SE 9th Ave. in Southeast Portland, between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is a suggested donation of $5 which helps support to Oregon Cheese Guild. During the fest, SE 9th Avenue will be blocked off between Belmont and Yamhill to provide space for up to 35 cheesemakers, including Northwest participants from Fraga Farm Goat Cheese, Rivers Edge Chevre, Rogue Creamery, Tillamook Cheese, Tumalo Farms, Willamette Valley Cheese Company, and more. Rogue Ales, which never misses an opportunity to mix great cheese and great beer, is one of the event sponsors. Cheese and Cheers won’t be there this year, but perhaps in 2012.

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