The seminar was really well put together in terms of the educational aspect, and I felt I gained important knowledge in every area of the cheese world that would be important to someone in my position. On top of that it afforded me the opportunity to meet some important (and very interesting) people in the industry, some of whom I've since done business with.
However, great educational and business opportunity aside, my absolutely favorite part about cheese school was the chance to try approximately 80 different cheeses in 3 days. That's truly heaven for a cheese junkie like me! What were my favorite cheeses, you ask? Here are my top 3:
1. L'Amuse Gouda: A wonderfully nutty, caramel flavored aged Gouda that would pair nicely with espresso. This special cheese starts out as a 2-month old wheel from Beemster and is lovingly nurtured and matured to perfection over a 2 year period by Betty Koster of Framagerie l'Amuse.
2. Cone de Port Aubry: The attack on this semi-hard goat's milk cheese is reminiscent of sea-salt, followed by a milky, mushroomy flavor. The rind provides a peppery note at the end. Absolute perfection, we're looking forward to adding this one to our case in the fall of 2009!
3. Cabbot Clothbound Cheddar: The first thing I noticed about this cheddar is its delightful aroma which brings to mind freshly cut grass and pineapple. The skillful maturation of this cheese at Jasper Hill Farm gives it its parmesan-like texture and the bursting flavor crystals which are enough to send any cheese junkie over the edge. This is a delicious cheese with a great story (see my upcoming post - an interview with Jack Deen of Jasper Hill). Cabot Clothbound made its debut at our store in June at our 50th anniversary party and was a huge success!
All in all, my 3 days at cheese school were some of the most memorable in my career to-date...