I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep up with all the cheeses in the world! I just don’t have time to check them all out, so I rely on the competitions to guide me. I haven’t gone wrong once by letting the judges screen my choices. So, I’m excited when the results of the American Cheese Society Judging & Competition (often called the “Oscars of Cheeses”) are announced* because I will be looking for those cheeses to taste when I go to the cheese store.
There are a lot of winners in many categories (for the list, click here), but the most prestigious awards are for “Best in Show.” This year, there were 1,843 entries and 5 Best in Show winners:
Little Mountain by Roelli Cheese in Shullsburg, Wisconsin
It will be interesting to see how quickly Roelli can get this cheese to market now that it has won first place. Apparently, there are only 1200 pounds of it already made and there are orders for it from hundreds of cheese stores! (So, if you see it on the shelf- buy it!)
About the cheese: It’s a Swiss-style, washed-rind Alpine cheese, made from raw cow’s milk in 15 pound wheels and aged for 6-14 months (the winning cheese was aged for 9 months).
Second Place – Tied
St. Malachi Reserve by The Farm at Doe Run in Coatesville, Pennsylvania
I have seen this called an “old soul” at a tender age because it acquires a lot of taste in only 3 months of aging.
About the cheese: It’s a Swiss-style, washed-rind Alpine cheese, made from pasteurized cow’s milk in 18-22 pound wheels and aged for 3 months.
Buff Blue by Bleating Heart Cheese in Tomales, California
This is the only blue cheese in the US made from raw water buffalo milk! There is a buffalo milk dairy 9 miles from the Bleating Heart Creamery and when they have extra milk in the winter, (when the gelato they make isn’t in demand) they sell it to the cheese maker who has been winning awards ever since she started making Buff Blue in 2014. So, it’s seasonal and sold out most of the time- if you see it, buy it at $40/pound!
About the cheese: It’s a natural rind, raw buffalo milk cheese in 3 pound wheels, aged for 3 months and more.
Third Place – Tied
Greensward by the Cellars at Jasper Hill and cave-finished by Murray’s Cheese in New York
We happen to have done an article about this cheese recently (click here) because it was recommended to us by a cheesemonger at Murray’s.
About the cheese: It’s a soft cheese, smear-ripened with a washed rind (in hard cider, yeast and salt) and wrapped in spruce cambium strips in 10 ounce wheels.
Jeff’s Select Gouda by the Caves of Faribault in Faribault, Minnesota
This is another collaborative cheese – made by Maple Leaf Cheese in Wisconsin and aged at the Caves of Faribault in Minnesota. The sandstone caves are warmer and more humid than temperature-controlled caves and this apparently works very well for these goudas.
About the cheese: It’s a natural rind gouda, (rubbed in annatto), made from pasteurized cow’s milk in 10 pound wheels.
Next year, for the first time, the next annual (34th) ACS Conference and Competition will be held in Denver, CO – July 26-29, 2017. Theme- “Cheese with Altitude.” Register to be an ACS member and watch for further info here.