In super layman's terms, the annual American Cheese Society competition is run much like a dog show. Cheesemakers enter their cheeses into certain categories based off recipe or style (ie "breed"). Each class has the potential for a first, second, and third place winner. And it's no small feat. There were over 100 categories. From there, all the first place winners are brought back out for the Best of Show judging and tasting. That's right; those judges gotta taste back through 100 blue ribbon winners to try to pick a Best of Show. It's an amazing thing to watch and, if you're judging or volunteering, taste! Since a select few are allowed this behind-the-scenes access, we've got the next best thing for you. Come to cheese class this Thursday 9/15 in the evening when we'll be tasting through 7 recent Best of Show winning cheeses. We've never done this class before, and we're excited to do it with past President Christine Hyatt co-presenting with John. Click here for ticket details.
Is everyone still just as excited as we are about the UT game this past weekend?? WOW!!! We are looking forward to seeing how great they do this season. GO TEXAS!! This week in the shop we are going to enjoy the last week of our Texas Peach Chipotle Chèvre made right outside of Austin in Blanco, Texas by CKC Farms. This cheese has the perfect balance of sweetness with chunks of Texas peaches from Fredericksburg in it and finishes nicely with just a touch of heat. Put this on one of our Easy Tiger baguettes for a great breakfast, or you can just eat it out of the container....we won't judge....it's that delicious! We also recently stuffed some into peppadew peppers and wrapped them in speck. Heaven. Step up your tailgate game folks! See everyone soon!!
Our popular monthly Date Night is next Friday. Now that folks are getting back into the fall routine, grab a sitter - whether for the dogs or the kids - and grab a loved one. Then come to our cheese-y date night; one ticket gets you two seats to share a cheese and pairings tray, a charcuterie board, and dessert bites. You can BYOB for $4 or buy our suggested wine and beer pairings from the cheese shop prior to the tasting. Check out here for more details.
Cast Your Vote...
Hey Austinites! There are two big polls open right now, one for the Austin Chronicle (due Mon 9/12) and one for Austin Monthly (due 10/9). If you love us and love what we do, vote for us! Recognition from these contests helps small businesses like ours get attention and get foot traffic. We often find these polls tricky because our concept doesn't really "fit in" anywhere. We're not a restaurant; we're not an artisan. We don't craft cheese; we craft stories... and the experience of tasting artisanal foods!
So if you enjoy coming into a shop that encourages you to taste everything and provides cut-to-order service, help us claim a spot in the polls. We'd appreciate your vote for "Service" in the Austin Chronicle Food & Drink category and for "Grocery Store" in the Austin Monthly Shopping category. (We know that's a stretch, but there's no category that artisanal food shops or small specialty shops even fit into.) We're proud of what we do and honored to serve you. Thank you to the Austin Chronicle and Austin Monthly for creating these polls, shining a light on many of Austin's great gems and supporting local folks and businesses.
Culinary Scholarships for Women
The Austin Chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier International is offering two scholarships for local women who are pursuing full-time culinary coursework in a culinary arts program for professional development. Click here for more details, noting that the application deadline is Oct 1.
The opportunities don't end there. On Sunday, October 23rd from 5-8pm, come to the gorgeous Barr Mansion to rub elbows, grab bites, and sip libations with some of the food and wine industry's leading women, members of the Austin chapter of Les Dames D'Escoffier. This annual fundraiser aims to raise awareness, money, and support for women in the culinary industry, as well as provide grants to those looking to get into it. Save the date now, and stay tuned for ticket purchasing info.
Casie's Adopt-an-Alp Conclusion and Final Thoughts
This week, we're catching up on Day 6 of Casie's trip to the Swiss Alps to study the process of transhumance, that is, moving the cows up the mountainside in progressive stages for diverse foliage and grazing, resulting in a delicious milk that's turned into mountain cheeses in traditional (challenging and laborious!) ways: "We woke with the sun that morning and drove out to Alp Imbrig. We pulled up to the farm as the sun was breaking over the butte and despite the early hour Ruedi Jordi, the cheesemaker, had already exuberantly gathered the cows (which *may* have almost accidentally trampled me) from the high meadows, milked them and was starting to make cheese over the fire pit in his kitchen. We awed at his industriousness whilst still wiping the sleep from our eyes. His wife, Margrit, served us the most amazing breakfast of biscuits with raw butter and hash and ham and eggs from the chicken coop 5 feet outside the door. We lingered for hours over pots of coffee and then loaded our bags in the van and spiraled down a mountain for the very last time. We pointed the van towards Geneva and early the next morning my new friends boarded planes and our alpine adventures came to a hug-filled, teary-eyed close."
"Adopt an Alp is a program created by Swiss-born-now-Florida-
resident Caroline Hostettler to spread awareness of the century old traditions of Swiss cheesemakers, mainly that of transhumance (the seasonal movement of a herd up and down the mountains as the pastures at different altitudes become lush and full of wildflowers). It is a unique and arduous process born originally of necessity and continued for generations because of the highest quality of cheese this method produces. To see the work that goes into every wheel of cheese absolutely changed my perspective on a product that I so very much took for granted. Since starting in the world of cheese I knew that making cheese wasn't easy, but it wasn't until I nursed the blisters on my feet, heard the anxiety in the voice of the next generation, held the granddaughter of a cheesemaker on my lap, and breathed air so thin I wasn't sure there was enough atmosphere above me to keep my feet connected to the ground that I truly got what tradition really means. When I came back to work, I stepped in the walk in fridge and looked around at every piece of cheese in the business, big and small and I saw more than just tasty bites. I saw the love and the work and the worry of all of our cheesemakers. I felt honored to represent all of our cheesemakers. I stepped out of the walk in and I looked at my team. I felt proud and grateful to stand beside all of them and to get to be the voices who tells the stories of our cheesemakers to all of you."