15 Sep
2009
Posted in: Food
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Smile and Say Cheese! Finale

Part III: All is Right With the World as I Hit the Cheese Festival

(See Part I: Rookie Cheesemonger and Part II: The Cheddar Meltdown, for pre-story)

Returning back to my volunteering at the American Cheese Society Annual Conference after a bit of warm sunshine and a delicious crepe for lunch, I felt a surge of energy and almost bounded back to the table for my next assignment. I wasn’t the only one (it seems that most of the volunteers had signed up for the post-lunch shift) and our gaggle of would-be cheese mongers was soon assembled. Our new mission: to stock and the restaurant cheese sale, in which a portion of the Festival cheese (overstock) was set aside to sell to local chefs.

I am a marketer by trade, so I almost took it as a personal affront when, after we had carefully categorized all the cheeses onto their various tables (does a goat white cheddar cheese belong with other goats or with cheddar?), no one appeared at the sale to buy it. The one benefit of this melancholy, empty marketplace, however, was that we had plenty of time to shop ourselves–I went home with a grocery bag’s worth of top selections for a song. Most importantly, I also took home my free ticket to the Festival and another that I was able to purchase for a heavy discount with the receipt from my restaurant sale cheeses. Another stroke of luck, it turned out that Benjamin did not require a ticket, being a toddler. I went home feeling like a Viking returning from a highly successful plunder.

Where to start? With the Cheddars, of course.

Where to start? With the Cheddars, of course.

The following day we all ate lightly. We weren’t sure what was in store for us that evening. It turns out that we made the right choice. Entering the ballroom (yes, the Cheese Festival was in the honest-to-goodness Governor’s Ballroom) we saw nothing but plates and plates of cubed cheese as far as the eye could see. Each table held these huge platters, along with baguette rounds, crackers, berries, fruit and other related snacks. Wine vendors had set up free bars to sample their offerings, as did beer producers like Rogue. Chocolate samples were everywhere. It was like paradise…especially for a toddler. Benjamin’s favorite part of any grocery store outing has always been sampling and this was it in its most exuberant, never-ending form.

I have my cheese buzz going by this point. My shirt is even askew, for goodness sakes.

I have my cheese buzz going by this point. My shirt is even askew, for goodness sakes.

There is no other way to put it…we gorged ourselves. It was amazing and delicious. I have never eaten so much cheese in my life; needing to make some tough choices by the end, I had to eventually limit myself to only sampling award-winners. Once we were convinced we could eat no more, we slowly ambled through the main foyer and out the doors onto the street. The stars shining above had never reminded me so much of the holes on a slice of swiss cheese.

So, what do you think?