10 Aug
Posted in: Food
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Smile and Say Cheese! Part I

Part 1: Rookie Cheesemonger

I have stumbled upon a universal truth…that the one week where you would have lots to blog about, you will, by definition not have time to do so. So begins my multi-part blog post on my recent “experience du fromage.”

Who has two thumbs and loves cheese? (That's right, THIS girl.)

Who has two thumbs and loves cheese? (That's right, THIS girl.)

It is an understatement to say that I love cheese, as would it be to say that at least a few of the extra pounds I carry on me were not, at one time, a butter or cheese product. So, imagine my piggy joy at learning the American Cheese Society was holding its annual conference and Cheese Festival here in Austin for the first time, and they needed volunteers who would, in exchange for helping, get a free ticket to the normally $75/head Festival itself.

That is how I found myself, last Thursday morning, swearing like a sailor, as I ran late (very late) to my agreed-upon work time. I would have been only a few minutes late, but driving to the end of the block only to see my dog running around in a neighbor’s yard (she had obviously made a doggie jail break out of the backyard) did nothing to aid my quest to make up the time in the car. Not an auspicious start…not to mention I had no time to look for parking so I ended up screeching into the Hilton garage, almost-unjustifiable expense be damned.

The ladies at check-in were pleasant and after handing me my volunteer t-shirt (modeled in picture above), helped me find my team, who had been working in the hotel kitchen, sorting glorious piles of unmarked cheeses into piles and onto various carts. On the other end of the counter, a few were cutting blue cheese up and plating them onto for the Society’s conference lunch.

The ACS Best in Show...Rogue River Blue

The ACS Best in Show...Rogue River Blue

I had never seen so much cheese in my life. There were over 1,300 entries into the Festival, and many cheesemakers sent large wheels or half a dozen packages of each entry, so that there would be enough for the judges to sample and also for the Festival itself.

Introductions were made and it was very telling. Everyone either worked for Whole Foods, Central Market or Spec’s…me being the exception was some source of wonderment. “You’re here because you just like cheese?” Yes. Yes I am.

(Part II coming tomorrow.)

So, what do you think?