I’m not teaching a class right now, but I don’t think that necessarily means that my prattling need cease. Especially in light of this past weekend’s exciting news from the Golden State’s capital — the results of the 2014 American Cheese Society competition! I’m a fairly regular reader of both print and online news media, so imagine my surprise at finding an email from Murray’s promoting a collection of “Blue Ribbon Beauties” from the 2014 ACS Competition. Surely such a spectacle, in so splendid a city as Sacramento, would have attracted the notice of the international press? I scanned last week’s Economist* and searched the NY Times archive, but there was no mention of this year’s competition anywhere. In fact, the most recent NYT mention of the ACS competition was back in 2012, in a short piece by Florence Fabricant (whose byline I’m always glad to see, mostly due to residual fondness for Sonmi-451). The winner that year was Flagsheep, made by Beecher’s of Seattle; they had recently opened an outpost in New York City, which probably explains why the Grey Lady deemed the ACS results worthy of inclusion that year.
In any case, the Times was not the only news outlet to neglect this important event. The first item in a Google News search for “acs winners 2014” is this stupid article about a contest to win tickets to The Expendables 3. In fact, the only helpful result from that search was this article from something called PerishableNews.com, which as you might expect is “an outlet for news about all the perishable categories typically featured in a retail store: Bakery, Dairy, Deli, Floral, Meat & Poultry, Produce, Seafood”. Needless to say, the site is now my homepage. (Though what’s the significance of a homepage these days, anyway? I always just have a bunch of tabs open already. Choosing a homepage has become a largely symbolic gesture, like naming a president pro tem of the Senate (besides the whole 4th-in-line-to-the-Presidency thing) or burning an ex-lover’s clothes (shoulda donated them homie).)
A search of the Sacramento Bee‘s archive reveals that they did publish the results, so maybe Google is more to blame for those lackluster results than the media itself. Looks like the L.A. Times has gotten in on the action, too, which is good to see. In any case, the results are thus:
BEST IN SHOW:
Tarentaise Reserve (Farms for City Kids Foundation, VT)
Point Reyes Blue (Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, CA)
3RD PLACE (tie):
Aged Gouda (Oakdale Cheese and Specialties, CA)
Eden (Sprout Creek Farms, NY)
Take a look at the winners in all categories here. That’s not an offer, it’s an instruction.
I have two takeaways from this year’s competition. First, maybe you noticed the name of that cheesemaking outfit that produced the Tarentaise seems a bit unusual. Well, the overall operation is Spring Brook Farm, who run the Farms for City Kids Foundation, an admirable (if unimaginatively named) urban-outreach project that gives young city people the opportunity to fulfill their cheesy dreams. Since these little squirts were responsible for making the champion cheese, they get the credit. I’d link to the FfCKF site, but Google tells me it might be hacked. This victory is no doubt a great moment for the young men and women who worked so hard to make a delicious cheese (and of course for the Spring Brook Farms experts who presumably did most of the real cheesemaster work). It also has to be tough on all the other cheesemakers in the competition, who just got whooped by a bunch of city slickers. Yikes. The second thing I have to point out is that Sprout Creek Farm is located in Poughkeepsie, NY, which is my hometown. If any of my diligent readers ever feel like visiting the home of the (tied for) third best cheese in America, holler at me and we’ll make a trip of it. We can hit up all the classic PK spots — my mom’s house, Rudy’s Rutabaga Palace, the quarry. Sky’s the limit.
*I didn’t really check The Economist for an article about the ACS Competition. I’m not a goddamn moron.