Cheese makers gather for Vermont festival

On July 20, 2014, 40 different cheese makers will gather to display their artisanal cheeses at the Vermont Cheese Makers Festival in front of a sold-out crowd. Students of a culinary arts program online may recognize a few of these rock stars of the dairy world. These artisans continue to choose Vermont as the place to flaunt their newest and tastiest fermentation because of the state’s dedication to the process.

Vermont features its own cheese trail, much like the Appalachian trail that divides the state. Developed by the Vermont Cheese Council, the trail allows any visitor to make the rounds of its 47 members. The trail is divided into categories based on whether the cheese is made with cow, goat or sheep’s milk. This trio of products will be on full display in the “Vertical Tasting” portion of the Cheese Makers Festival. Here the differences between the young and aged cheeses will be explored. The Vermont Cheese Council says of its event leaders, “aging cheese requires the wisdom of experience and our panelists are at the top of their game.”

Worship-worthy cheese
The cheese festival features workshops and celebrity talks that will address not only how to make cheese, but how to incorporate the product and its byproduct into cooking. One event, titled “Beyond the Curd” will tackle the varieties of ways to use whey, butter, buttermilk and cream. Other events include “European vs. Vermont” and “Cooking with Chocolate and Cheese,” which is run by the Vermont chocolate company, Lake Champlain Chocolates. The New York Times stated that the cheese festival displays its delicacies with pairings of wine, cider and local craft beer.

The festival is a high note for the cheese makers of the Vermont area, who recently underwent an FDA regulation scare.

Cheese rules
The FDA began investigating cheese makers in New York, who, as is traditional, age their cheese on wood. The FDA, concerned that the food is being aged on a porous surface, flustered many Vermont cheese makers. Vermont Public Radio asked one state representative, Peter Welch about the scare,

“This is the mother of all bad ideas”, he told the source.

The FDA did not continue to pursue the case, but made a statement that they were continuing to investigate the sanitary levels of wood.

At this year’s festival, participants of the cheese festival will still be able to display their wood-aged products.

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