In the last decade artisan cheesemaking has become an integral part of the North Carolina scene. To mention a few local cheesemakers: Three Graces Dairy, Spinning Spider Creamery, English Farmstead Cheese, and Looking Glass Creamery will all be there. Other cheesemakers from the surrounding area are coming too: such as Charleston Artisan Cheese House, Buffalo Creek Farm and Creamery located in Germanton, N.C., and Boone Creek Creamery, from Lexington, Kentucky. At this festival one can learn about cheese made from cow, goat, and sheep milks in a multitude of styles and then paired with amazing breads, meats, jams and mustards for a tasters delight. Guest vendors, such as Lusty Monk Mustard, Garnet Gals Local Jams and Jellies, and Farmer Jane Soaps will be selling their products.
This year for the first time there will be a family tent. Adults are encouraged to bring young people to the fest to learn more about cheese and the animals that bring us milk. Children and their parents can try their hand at making butter, challenge each other at Tic-Tac-Cheese, join the Big Cheese word-search tournament, and even participate in a scavenger hunt. There will be a Farm Corral where youngsters can learn about the animals that bring us milk for fabulous cheese! Of course there will be kids and calves for all to see. Goat milking at the Kid Corral will be at 1 pm., 2 pm., 3 pm and a goat-milk soap making demonstration will be at 1 pm.
From 1:00-3:00 pm. some of the WNC Cheese Trail member restaurants will enter the Cookin ‘ with Cheese competition. Competitors include Ambrozia, Corner Kitchen Catering, and Hickory Nut Gap Farm. By purchasing a tasting ticket, you can be a judge. The People’s Choice winner will be announced at 3:45 pm. The contest runs from 1–3 pm. Judges do not have to be present the entire time of the contest but need to cast their votes before 3 pm. In addition, pairing the cheeses with Wine, Beer and Cider will all be discussed at other ticketed events throughout the afternoon. Experts in the field will be on hand to guide you to find the perfect pairing for your favorite beverage.
Free workshops are being held all afternoon. At 12:30 Cheesemonger Brenton Vasconcellos from 5 Walnut Cheese Bar will teach about the components of milk, how culture played a role in the discovery of cheese, and culture’s function in current-day cheese production. At 1:30 Lindsey Menendez of Copper Cauldron Cheese Company will give an overview of the process of making homemade mozzarella in the comfort of your own kitchen. Or perhaps a Charcuterie 101 class with Meredith Leigh would be of interest? Meredith wrote The Ethical Meat Handbook, a holistic manifesto that describes how we might endeavor to get good meat on our plates, and empower ourselves to own more of the process. Her latest book, Pure Charcuterie, makes a case for meat preservation. At 2:30 Jim Barham, who has been successfully making cheese at home for ten years from Cheddar to Reblochon, will show you what you need — and what you don’t need — to make great cheese at home . There will be time for Q&A, and Jim will also share information on creating your own home cheese cave!
This festival is an opportunity to learn about the local artisan cheesemakers who are now making a mark on Western North Carolina. The industry is growing here—perhaps to become a state like Vermont and Wisconsin, who are known for their delicious cheeses. More and more varieties of cheese with wonderful flavors are being produced in the area. You can find many of these local vendors at a farmers markets throughout the week. However, the Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest this Sunday gathers them together all in one place for you to compare and enjoy. Do buy a ticket for a festive afternoon online at www.mountaincheesefest.com. A word to the wise, no pets are allowed.