Tag Archives: sequatchie cove

Southern Artisan Cheese Fest

I was in Nashville last weekend for the Southern Artisan Cheese Fest. Combined with my trip to Raleigh, NC for the American Cheese Society Conference, it just solidified my view that the South is one of the most exciting regions for new cheese in the country right now.

I’ve mentioned some Southern cheeses before… while judging this year I gave the Sequatchie Cove Dancing Fern my vote for Best of Show, I wrote about Sweet Grass in my book… but overall there was just a tremendous amount of good cheese. Many of these are too small production to even think about trying to get in SF, but you Southerners should take heart. You can add cheese to your local food culture along with biscuits, grits and sorghum.*

Besides those cheesemakers, there were so many more: Prodigal Farm, Caromont Farms, Homestead Heritage, Nature’s Harmony, Goat Lady Dairy, Looking Glass Creamery, and Noble Springs Dairy all stood out in my mind and I know that I am forgetting half the cheeses I tasted. It was a long day and I actually didn’t even get a chance to hit the booths until everyone was packing up. Don’t be mad if I left you off, just make a comment that you were there. Is there a master list of cheesemaker attendees somewhere?

And special mention to Bonnyclabber Cheese Co. for 1. Having totally unique cheese (raw milk acid-coagulated and pasteurized yogurt-coagulated)and 2. Introducing me to Sandor Ellix Katz whose books I’ve read and who shares my publisher but whom I had never gotten a chance to meet.

I did a little reading for the makers, mongers, and VIPs the night before the Fest and then sold books and did a class during the Fest. I also acted as the unofficial greeter in my position next to the paper plates in the first bank of tables. See:

I, of course, forgot to take pictures of any of the cheeses. Duh. I am such a blogger circa 2002. Sorry.**

Anyways, I thought the Fest was great, especially for an event of this magnitude in only its second year. No lines for the beer and wine(!!!), some lines for the food, but really only for some parts of the Fest. And, bottom line, it was awesome because the cheese and the other food was great. Kathleen, of the Bloomy Rind, did an awesome job as well as all the other volunteers.

The funniest thing? The event was in a space usually used for a flea market but Kathleen had rented it for the day for the Fest. About a half hour before SACF started someone came up to us, looked around, and asked, “Where are all the poor people who are usually here?” “They’ll be back tomorrow,” someone answered. Not everyone loves a Cheese Fest.

And hey, did you guys know Nashville has a Parthenon? Yeah, no joke. They even built it, they didn’t just steal it from Greece like some other countries I could mention. Of course the only people who didn’t mock me for going to see it were the senior citizens.


*I love the sorghum options at so many of the restaurants. Mostly because Laurie is from a long line of Texas sorghum farmers and makes at least $20 a year from the one that she owns a share in. I’m all for sorghum becoming hip and expensive! Help a small (absentee) farmer out!

** Check out pictures here

Great Cheeses from ACS 2012: Part 1


I am only mentioning cheeses that are new to me here because – as anyone there can attest – there were too many awesome cheeses for one person to blog about. My versions of these from past years are still pretty much valid, so check those out as well if you want.

Here is a list of things that got my attention at ACS 2012.

Ist runner up Best of Show
Valley Shepherd — Crema de Blue
Cleary this cheese was ripped apart by the judges in the best possible way.

I had never heard of this cheese or cheese company before the judging. I love it that a cheese like this can be recognized in a competition this big. It speaks well to the competition and shows how important a blind judging is to reward less well-known cheeses. Crema de Blue is – like the Flagsheep – a mixed milk cheese, sheep and cow. As the name would imply it is rich and creamy with a very well-balanced blue flavor, assertive, but not overpowering the milkiness of the cheese. I love natural rinded blues! Again, wish I could get my hands on this one.

2nd runner up Best of Show
Emmi Roth USA — Roth Grand Cru Surchoix

This is kind of a previous Best in Show winner. Under a slightly different name (“Roth Kase — Grand Cru Gruyère Surchoix”) this same basic cheese won it all in 1999. Since Emmi owns a company with actual name-controlled Gruyere in Switzerland (as well as Cypress Grove Chevre in California), they are moving away from calling their Wisconsin version by that name, which I do think is admirable. Whatever they called it, they make one of the most solid alpine-style cheeses in the country. They even imported those cheese flipping robots (which one is not allowed to photograph in their warehouse!) which are just about the coolest cheese thing ever.

Sequatchie Cove Farm — Dancing Fern

This is the one cheese I voted for in my personal top 3 which didn’t make the Best of Show/Runners up list. This is the best American version of a Reblochon that I have ever tasted. Reblochon is, for the most part, illegal in the US because it is made with raw milk and aged less than 60 days. The imported pasteurized versions just do not satisfy. While I often buy a larger format, legally-raw-milk version made in France, it is great to see one made closer to home… and from a farmstead, pasture-based dairy no less!

Made in Tennessee, this is just one of the amazing Southern cheeses that are super hard to get outside the South. I am so glad the ACS decided to go to Raleigh this year (even though it was the 2nd straight year on the East Coast) because it really let those of us who live far away get exposed to great cheese we may not know about otherwise. (And hey, I’ll be back in the South in October for the Southern Artisan Cheese Festival in Nashville! Tickets go on sale this week)

If you are local, we actually have some of this cheese in the store right now… but probably not for long.