Showing posts with label Cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cheese. Show all posts

Monday, September 7, 2015

Slow Cheese 2013 ~ Bra Italy

Slow Cheese may be the most tasteful festival on Earth. A cornerstone of the Slow Food movement, this biennial event, next scheduled for September 18-21, 2015, takes place at its headquarters in Bra, Italy. Aside from travel and lodging expenses, this sumptuous celebration is free and open to the public. Slow Cheese 2013 was my last stop on a month long self-guided tour of Italy’s Emilia Romagna and Piedmonte regions and it nearly convinced me to cancel my return flight and take up residence there.

Started in 1997 when Slow Food founder, Carlo Petrini, first brought together a small band of local dairy farmers, attendance is now approaching the 200,000 mark. Hotel accommodation in the region is at a premium and usually booked several years in advance. For that reason and the fact that I love to mingle in local atmosphere, I stayed in a modestly priced Turin hotel about thirty miles from Bra and took the train back and forth. Round trip was 15 Euros and lasted about an hour each way with stops at every village along the route. Since trains run at thirty minute intervals throughout the day, I took breaks to explore these villages on my return trip. Trofarello, Vallongo, Morello, Oselle, Carmagnola, Bandito, and even Alba down the line from Bra, all have a place in my mindscape now.

My first trip to Bra was the day before the festival opened and I recommend doing this if at all possible. It is an opportunity to enjoy this delicate village for its own sake as its ancient cobblestone streets are still relatively empty of outsiders. And it is thrilling to observe the focused intensity that brings this enormous festival together from all parts of the world, often with less than a day of on site construction.

Bra, Italy

Preparation Day

Chaos turns to ecstasy overnight. Mishaps become happy accidents in a way that only the Italians have mastered.  Most notable for me was locating a pairing workshop I purchased as an additional event. As a side note, all the special workshops are affordable and rewarding.

This particular workshop was a high profile vertical tasting of Parmesan cheeses ranging in age from six months to ten years, paired with French champagnes aged three to fifteen years. Not finding the venue on the official Slow Cheese map, I went to a Help tent where the guides, after extensive consultation among themselves, realized that the venue hadn't been included on the map. Va bene! They quickly improvised a sketched addition to my map and I came away with a personal experience of Italian perspective.

Slow Cheese is a distillation of all that is essential to human culture.  Those with the good fortune of being there know what a sensuous treasure that is.

Slow Cheese 2013

Saturday, March 7, 2015

March Goes Rogue

Mount McLoughlin overlooking Central Point
The Month of March has hosted notable celebrations since early Roman times.  Today its most popular association is with Saint Patrick, drawing crowds on March 17th to Dublin, Boston, and even Butte, Montana.

But the tastiest mid-March party on the planet has been quietly growing near the Rogue River in southern Oregon for more than a decade with roots extending into the 1930's when Rogue Creamery founder, Tom Vella, held annual community picnics in Central Point on the company grounds.

Rogue Creamery Shop in Central Point
David Gremmels and Cary Bryant purchased Rogue Creamery from the Vella Family in 2002 and re-established Tom's tradition of public celebrations.  Starting with a few years of informal gatherings in their cheese "make" room, David and Cary went on to organize the first Oregon Cheese Festival in 2005.

Tillamook Cheesemongers go Incognito!
A year after launching the Festival, David and Cary helped to form the Oregon Cheese Guild which is now responsible for producing the event. Under its guidance, the Oregon Cheese Festival has grown to over 4,000 visitors from an original 100 and delivers an affordable, unforgettable touch of magic for all age and interest levels.

Click to Open Menu PDF
Click to Open Poster PDF
The 2015 Oregon Cheese Festival happens on Saturday, March 14th at the Rogue River Creamery in Central Point, Oregon.  General Admission is $15 and includes a full day of tasting, entertainment, and fun-to-swallow education. Those 12 years old and under are welcome free of charge.

Located at 311 North Front Street (HWY 99) in Central Point, events take place in two heated tents covering over 15,000 square feet.  It's a big, warm, and wonderful party.

A Cheesemakers Dinner (menu), benefiting the non profit 501 (c) (6) Oregon Cheesemaker Guild, is scheduled on Friday, March 13th, from 6:15 P.M. – 9:00 P.M, at the Inn at the Commons in Medford, OR. Each course highlights a cheese made by one of the Festival's artisans, paired with a local wine or beer. Master of Ceremonies for the dinner, John Greeley of Gourmet Foods International, will also present pairing and appreciation classes, free with Festival Admission on Saturday. (Festival Details and Registration.)

Mid-March at the Rogue will certainly deliver a Touch of Heaven, if not a Pot of Gold.  Attending your first Oregon Cheese Festival will mark the beginning of an annual affair!

2014 Photos and Video
Rogue Creamery's Oregon Blue
Official Rogue Creamery Truck
Outstanding Rogue River Blue
Culture Magazine Table
Antique Milk Bottles
Oregon Bee Store
Clear Creek Pear Brandy
Judges - Lassa Skinner & Janet Fletcher 
Oregon Olive Mill
Sarah Marcus & Jim Hoffman - Briar Rose Creamery
Peggy Smith & Sue Conley - Cowgirl Creamery
Allison & Don Hooper - Vermont Creamery
Curds and Whey Goat Cheese
Rogue River Brewing
Handmade Cheese Plates