|Samples of Wisconsin sheep's milk cheeses|
While last year's inaugural event resulted in long lines and too little cheddar for the sampling, this year's Minnesota Cheesefest at the Minnesota State Fair grounds was quite the opposite.
This year the lines were few and far between as cheese fans freely milled about, sampling and chatting with cheese makers and fellow cheese enthusiasts. There were also workshops to attend, such as the session on cheese pairings led by sommelier Leslee Miller of Amusee Wines.
Cheese-maker Keith Adams, owner of Alemar Cheese, described his journey from 9 to 5 job into the world of cheesemaking as growing "from a notion to an obsession." His Bent River Camembert-style softened into an alluring ivory colored swath, spread atop a slice of baguette. The buttery richness comes from the Cedar Summit milk used to make it. Also up for sampling was Alemar's newer variety called Good Thunder, which has a sherbet-hued rind washed in Surly Bender. It's got a distinctive stank on it that serious cheese aficionados will appreciate.
|If you insist...|
While cheese was the star, there were several supporting players who won the hearts and stomachs of attendees. Foxy Falafel's truck was on hand serving gluten-free cheese curds, tossed with a few fronds of fresh dill, fried, and served with a golden pool of local honey. Michelle Gayer's the Salty Tart bakery was on hand with piles of her crusty loaves of bread and a heavenly apple gallette, made from an impossible number of layers of ever-so-sweet buttery pastry. It's a confection that puts that cronut business to shame and serves as a nice reminder that some classics don't need to be messed with.
|Pure gold from the prairies |
Ames Farm shared all their varieties of beautiful honeys. HeathGlen had her sweet and savory jams and spreads. Her raspberry Chambord spread seemed to beg for a pairing with that Bent River cheese, while her zesty green tomato chutney played nicely with the Shepherd's Way Shepherd's Hope cheese.
This event had a sample for every cheese lover. There were ranch flavored cheese curds, "squeaky" Juusto cheese infused with Nueske's bacon and heated on a griddle, and Rochdale butter so rich and fresh it was best enjoyed on crackers, not wasted on cooking. There was something for every lactose lover in the land. After a stumble the first year, it seems the Minnesota Cheesefest has hit its stride.