A Trip Up North: The Vermont Cheesemakers Festival

Vermont Cheesemakers Festival - 2013

It was the perfect day yesterday at Shelburne Farms for the 5th annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival. Forty plus cheesemakers from around the state of Vermont, as well as a few from New Hampshire and Massachusetts, gathered for an afternoon of tasting and talking – and, happily, we did a lot of both!

Tasting Cheese with Sage Farm Goat Dairy

Tasting Cheese with Sage Farm Goat Dairy

Tripp, Meredith, Kyra, and I – mongers all – spent the afternoon saying “hi” to many of our old friends, including Larry from Spring Brook Farm, the team from Jasper Hill Farm, Michael Lee of Twig Farm, Anne of Boston Post Dairy, Molly from Sage Farm Goat Dairy, Suzy and the team from Cricket Creek Farm and Allison Hooper of Vermont Butter & Cheese. In addition to cheesemakers, there were other small producers there as well – it was so nice, for example, to see Louisa from Big Picture Farm. Louisa and Lucas’ beautiful goat milk caramels have just the right amount of sweetness for a pick-me-up during this marathon of an event. We also saw Elaine from Red Kite Candy, and are looking forward to having her come down for an in-store tasting – her enthusiasm and smile are infectious (while her caramels are positively addictive)!

Big Picture Farm - Goat Milk Caramels

Afternoon pick-me-up: goat milk caramels from Big Picture Farm

We got to try the new batch of Vermont Shepherd (coming to the shop soon – as is a batch of Mossend Blue from Bonnieview Farm!), and we sampled Jasper Hill’s new alpine style cheese, Alpha Tolman – fingers crossed we can snag a small amount of this rich, nutty, and complex cheese around the holidays. We traded jokes and laughter with Stan and his daughter Shelby of Mount Mansfield Creamery, checked in with our friends at Culture magazine, and cooled off on the beautiful shores of Lake Champlain. We also had the opportunity to make some new friends too – come fall, look out for some new arrivals on cheese counter!

Woodcock Farm - Summer Snow and Weston Wheel

Woodcock Farm’s Summer Snow and Weston Wheel

Perhaps the most exciting part of this trip was that we were able to pick up a really hard-to-come-by cheese from Woodcock Farm. We got new batches of Weston Wheel, as well as Summer Snow. Summer Snow is a soft ripened sheep’s milk cheese made in small batches and, unless we pick it up from the farm, we can’t get it! We’re really excited to have been able to pick up a small amount of this delicate, soft and gooey sheep cheese, allowing us to share a bit of our marvelous experience in Vermont with everyone back home.

Driving back late last night, with a large, beautiful moon hanging over the rolling hills of Vermont, us cheesemongers reflected on our day and came to the following conclusion: the small producers we talked with at the festival have such passion and spirit, exhibiting a love and care for their work that is synonymous with the mission and spirit of Formaggio Kitchen. We are so proud to be able to represent them and their vision by carrying their products, bringing the delicious fruits of their hard work to folks’ tables. Next time you’re in the shop – please ask us for a taste of Vermont – we would love to share!

Sarah Spira is the domestic cheese buyer and a cheesemonger at Formaggio Kitchen South End.