It’s cheese week, baby! Yep, this is the one week of the year where I seem normal. That’s because starting today, I am amazingly surrounded by more than a thousand cheese geeks, all of whom this year are trekking from across North America and descending upon Montreal in Quebec, Canada for the American Cheese Society’s 28th Annual Conference & Competition.
Held in a different city every year, this is the first time the conference has been held in Canada. However, no matter the location, the faithful few gather each year to talk shop and witness the shock and awe of more than 1,650 artisan, farmstead, and specialty cheeses from Canada, U.S.A., and Mexico.
Today and tomorrow, the cheeses are being sorted and judged, and by the end of the week, they will all be sliced and served, giving attendees a rare chance to get an up-close-and-personal look, sniff and taste at thousands of artisanal cheeses, most not available on a national retail level, as they are crafted by small, farmstead and dairy artisans and sold locally.
My glorious week of cheese eating actually started a bit early this evening, as dinner in downtown Montreal featured the famous local dish of Poutine. What is Poutine, you ask? Oh, let me tell you. It’s a big bowl of home-made, hand-cut French fries, smothered in rich and smooth beef gravy like your mother used to make, topped by a glorious smattering of fresh cheese curds. Yes, cue the angel chorus. This heavenly dish is then placed in front of you in all its glory, beckoning you to ingest all of its 13,000 calories.
Damn I love Canada. Who doesn’t love a country that specializes in a dish combining the three basic food groups – potatoes, gravy and cheese? If the rest of the week goes as well as tonight, this may be the best ACS conference ever.
Stay tuned all week, as I’ll be blogging about cheese tours, cheese seminars and of course, the cheese awards ceremony where we’ll learn who takes home the coveted Best in Show trophy. For up-to-the-second news, follow all of us cheese geeks on Twitter by searching the #Cheese Society11 hashtag. Cheese geeks unite!