ACS 2006

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This weekend the American Cheese Society held its 23rd Annual Conference in Portland, OR. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it, but it sounds like the conference was a rousing success. According to David Grotenstein, chair of the ACS Competition Committee, this year's conference saw "record, sell-out crowds...and...an unprecedented number of entries for our annual Judging and Competition. 157 producers from 28 states (and two provinces) entered an astounding 941 cheeses, almost 200 more than last year's record 749."

The Best in Show award, given last year to Uplands Cheese Company's Pleasant Ridge Reserve, went to Vermont's Cabot Creamery for their Clothbound Cheddar. Made at Cabot's production facility from the pasteurized milk of a single herd of cows, the cheese is then aged for 10-18 months by Mateo Kehler in the cellars at Jasper Hill Farm. Here's a nice article that talks about the partnership.

The states of California and Wisconsin dominated the competition, with California receiving 16 blue ribbons, and Wisconsin 15. Vermont can also stand proud with 8 blue ribbons, not counting Cabot's Best in Show. The state also took home the prize for Best Farmstead Cheese Aged Longer Than 90 Days--that award went to Thistle Hill Farm's Tarentaise. California's Fiscalini Farms also did well, picking up two blue ribbons for their Bandage Wrap Cheddar Mature and two third place ribbons for their Caraway and Garlic flavored Cheddars.

Next year's conference will be held in Burlington, VT, and I'm hoping I will be able to make it up there. If the trends seen this year continue to next year, there will be over 1100 cheeses entered in the competition. It will be a Festival of Cheese of historic proportions!

If any of you readers were at this year's conference, please post a comment and let us know how it was!

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