Colleen and I are mourning the fact that neither of us are attending the American Cheese Society Annual Conference this year. Alas, thousands of miles (and dollars) separate us from cheese nirvana in Sacramento. But while we’ll be following along with conference shenanigans via social media this week, I’ll also be consoling myself with a very large wheel of Blue Earth, the latest cheesy creation of my friend Keith Adams, founder of Minnesota-based Alemar Cheese Company.

Though Keith announced earlier this year that he would be relocating to California to focus on English-style Cheddars, he hasn’t stopped tinkering in the Alemar creamery. After experimenting with large-format versions of his signature Bent River Camembert for quite some time, he decided to adapt the recipe and cultures to make a Brie-like cheese, in part, to appeal to the stubborn people he meets at the farmers market and cheese tastings who only want Brie. But there’s no reason why you can’t love both kinds of cheese, and after my first bite of Blue Earth, I knew I would be purchasing both regularly from now on.

Can I make a confession? Brie – even the good imported varieties from France – often isn’t my first pick for a cheeseboard, which may be shocking considering my well-established fondness for bloomy-rind cheeses. Though I love the creamy, buttery texture and mouthfeel of Brie, often I detect a yucky morning breath-like flavor upon the finish. Luckily, Blue Earth offers nothing of the sort. Instead, you savor the rich, deep flavors of pure cream, fresh grass and thickly churned butter. In fact, I substituted thick swipes of Blue Earth for butter on the soft pretzel I ate for lunch yesterday, and damn, if that wasn’t satisfying.

Blue Earth’s silky smooth paste and rich flavor make this cheese automatically bubbly-worthy, alongside a fruit plate of grapes, sweet apples (I found out the hard way that tarter varieties clash with the cheese’s natural sugars) and some neutral water crackers or baguette slices. It may not be the same as experiencing the ACS Festival of Cheese, but I won’t be crying while I have my Blue Earth cheese course to enjoy.

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I came back from CheeseMania NYC — aka the Cheesemonger Invitational + summer Fancy Food Show — and suddenly it was already July. Which means we’re just days away from the sixth annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival, held July 20 at Shelburne Farms on the shore of Lake Champlain.

The historic coach barn will welcome 40 cheesemakers from Vermont and neighboring states, as well as locally-crafted beer and spirits to refresh the taste buds of the expected sell-out crowd.

vermont cheesemakers festival 2013 | cheeseandchampagne.com

vermont cheesemakers | cheeseandchampagne.com

(pictured, top: Michael Lee, Twig Farm; Domenico Marchitelli, Maplebrook Farm, making burrata; Allison Hooper, Vermont Creamery, Vermont Shepherd and Consider Bardwell panel on seasonality of cheese.
bottom: Mark Fischer, Woodcock Farm; Chris Gray, Consider Bardwell; Sebastian von Trapp, Von Trapp Farmstead.)

Cooking demonstrations and workshops such as “A Vertical Tasting” of cow, sheep and goat cheeses are included in the $50 ticket price. Visit the website for more details and to purchase your tickets today.

Fodor’s recently named the Festival one of the top 10 best summer food festivals in the US, and for good reason. It’s the one event of the year where you can taste cheese with some of the country’s finest cheesemakers — do the names Jasper Hill, Vermont Creamery, Consider Bardwell or Grafton Village ring a bell? — and do it all on perhaps the most scenic farm in the country.

See you there?

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Jacobs & Brichford’s Ameribella, Indiana

July 1, 2014

I was going to post about Ameribella last month, but how could we not feature such a patriotically named cheese on Independence Day week? Especially a cheese as powerful and pungent as this – if the American troops couldn’t banish the British on their own, surely this cheese could have done the job. Despite hailing [...]

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Eataly NY Monger is the new Queen of Cheese #CMI2014

June 30, 2014

Last night in the stinkiest warehouse in Long Island City, NY, the 5th annual Cheesemonger Invitational tested the endurance, skill and showmanship of 48 mongers to declare a new champion. After daytime preliminaries, the event opened for the cheese-loving public to taste the competitors’ “perfect bites.” Judges awarded three best bites with extra credit going [...]

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Let’s Talk About Wood {#SaveOurCheese Update}

June 13, 2014

Thank goodness for Congress. How often do you hear that? Here’s the deal. If you follow us — or Forbes, the New York Times, or NPR — on social media, you probably heard about the seemingly out-of-the-blue FDA declaration late last week that wood was not an acceptable surface on which to age cheese. This [...]

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Ticklemore, England

June 3, 2014

So I’ve had a bit of blogging hiatus lately, and I wish I had a better excuse for why, but the truth is I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been to the cheese shop! Oy, sad on so many levels. I rectified that late last week, though, and restocked my drawer with some dairy [...]

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Mango, Cucumber and Smoked Feta Salad

May 24, 2014

Grilling this holiday weekend? Here’s a salad to pair with whatever’s on the grill — a salad inspired by the classic Greek salad, but with a twist. We’ve swapped out the tomatoes (not quite in season yet) for juicy sweet mangoes. And we’ve upgraded the feta with a smoked feta from Vermont’s Maplebrook Farm. Maplebrook’s [...]

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Prodigal Farm Seeks Aged Goat (Cheese)

May 16, 2014

It’s been too long since I’ve sampled the goat cheeses of North Carolina’s Prodigal Farm — not since ACS 2012 visited Raleigh — but you can help change that by supporting their Kickstarter campaign to build an addition to their farmstead dairy. The new addition will provide space to brine and age their goat cheeses, [...]

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Grilled Cheese and Egg Creams at GCDC

May 7, 2014

Grilled Cheese Month has come to an end, and you’re all out of creative sandwich ideas? You’re in luck, DC’s newest cheese bar is now open. GCDC, as their name implies, focuses on grilled cheese sandwiches, turned out rapid fire from their state-of-the-art convection ovens. I took the curd kids down for lunch during their [...]

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Minnesota Cheesemaker Moving to Northern California

April 8, 2014

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Alemar Cheese Company and its founder/cheesemaker, Keith Adams. From devouring (ahem, we mean delicately snacking on) his soft-ripened Bent River and beer-washed Good Thunder to toasting a lively ACS experience, we’ve always had a good time chatting with Keith and talking about the future of artisan cheesemaking. [...]

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