Aug. 27, 2009
The cheese whiz
By Kim Dannies
I spent last weekend cheesing my way to a potential heart attack. First, I saw the delightful movie “Julie & Julia,” a must-see that is enhanced by smuggling in a wedge of ripe Brie. After the movie, I sated my lust for French food at a local café: Buttery escargots, paté de champagne, fromage de chèvre grille and fresh sardines did the trick.
Still breathing, my next event was a super cheese-studded party to celebrate Vermont Butter and Cheese Company’s 25 years in business. There were kudos and cheese curds flying around this festive reunion as slices of baguette, smeared with hand crafted Bonne Bouche, Coupole and Bijou chèvres, paraded on trays just begging me to pick them off, which I happily did. The Vermont Butter and Cheese Company is largely credited for creating the specialty cheese industry in Vermont and has won hundreds of blue ribbons in international competitions.
I spent the next day cheesing it up at the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival at Shelburne Farms. Dozens of Vermont artisanal cheese makers shared more than 100 varieties of handmade cow and sheep milk cheeses; my favorite of the day was a Cabot Clothbound Cheddar from Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro. I enjoyed a demonstration of cheese making and tasting by French native Marc Druart and cheese writer Max McCalman of New York City’s Artisanal restaurants. Another session was a sensory pairing of five cheeses with bacon and chocolate; pumpkin and caraway; salt, oil and honey; cranberry compote and pickled beets; dilly green beans and tomato; and cider butter with maple crunch popcorn. Try it sometime — crazy fun on the plate and on the palate. I was too cheesed out to handle the wine and beer pairings, but they sure looked appealing.
The festival was held in partnership with the University of Vermont’s cheese education program, the Vermont Institute for Artisanal Cheese (google “VIAC”), which provides weeklong classes in cheese techniques for anyone interested in cheese making as a hobby or possible business. The guest instructors are experts from all over the world.
This week I’ll be jogging around town munching rolls of Tums and rabbit food from my local farmers’ market. I can handle this regime as long as there is still a smidgeon of Chocolate Apple Mascarpone Cheesecake leftover in my fridge to bridge the gap. The recipe is available at butterandcheese.net.
Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.