The American Cheese Society Competition was founded in 1983 and includes roughly 1,400 members. Society members include farmers; specialty and artisan cheese-makers; acedemics; enthusiasts; marketing and distribution specialists; food writers and cookbook authors; and specialty foods retailers from the US, Canada and Europe.
In addition to enjoying and distributing cheeses, members of the Society work with the federal government concerning issues that involve accepted standards and practices in the production of cheese and fermented dairy products. So, each year the Society hosts an annual conference and a world-renowned cheese competition which culminates in the Festival of Cheese. The ACS Competition in Chicago ended last week, but the pungent aroma is still wafting around the streets.
Cheeses from everywhere are at the competition each year with over 1,100 different types present this year. Over 500 cheese-makers peddled their wares after the competition so if you are a cheese-lover you should check out next year’s festival. These cheeses are the best in the business and can be purchased in bulk at bargain basement prices.
This year the First Place Best-In-Show</strong went to the second place of last year, a Snow White Goat Cheddar from Carr Valley Cheese Company out of Wisconsin (of course!). This creamy white Goat Cheddar Cheese is made in 38 lbs wheels and cave aged for 6 months. No wonder it was chosen. Because I didn’t make it to the Festival this year, I am debating weather or not I should order a chunk of this best-in-show cheese from the Carr Valley Cheese Company Website. If I do, I am sure you will hear about it. However, Carr Valley Cheese did not just take the top prize, oh no, they also received 16 other ribbons, including 3rd runner-up Best in Show for their Cave Aged Marisa.
Meadow Creek Dairy out of southern Virginia took the Second Place Best-In-Show with their Grayson Cheese. This same cheese also took the first place Farmstead award. The Farmstead Cheese category, which is limited to cheeses produced from the milk of a single farm, is a favorite among small local dairies. According to their website, <a href= “http://meadowcreekdairy.com/JML/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=16&Itemid=30”>Meadow Creek describes their Grayson cheese as reminiscent of the Italian Taleggio or French Livarot, but with [their] rich Jersey milk and a longer aging time. A soft finely textured cheese, very rich and beefy with a pungent aroma and a nutty sweet overtone. It is surface ripened with a thin reddish-orange washed rind. Sounds good to me! To bad they only ship wholesale, although that hasn’t stopped me before…
Carr Valley’s Cave Aged Marisa took home the Third Place Best in Show ribbon. This natural-rind variety gets its complex, sweet and slightly rambunctious flavors from open-air cave aging. It took 1st Place in its class at the 2005 ACS Competition and was a Blue Ribbon prize winner at the 2005 Wisconsin State Fair and took 2nd Place in its class at the World Cheese Competition. After reading about all this cheese, looking longingly at the succulent photos, and after scarfing down what little bit of German Brie that was left in my fridge, I can’t help but know that I am going to order some of these cheeses. If you are like me and would like to pick up this cheese to try as well, hop on over to the Carr Valley website and pick up a chunk.
Myself, as well as everyone here at Tasty Planner, would like to congratulate all the winners of this year’s ACS Competition, including Carr Valley and Meadow Creek Dairy, and good luck to all that plan on entering next year!
Well that wraps up the top three cheeses according to the ACS. You can find all the winners of the various other categories by checking out the finalists PDF from the ACS website or by clicking here. Now that you’re in the mood though, check out these cheese recipes from Tasty Planner. Happy Cooking!