Thousands compete, few reign triumphant, and one walks away as the supreme victor. Their weapon of choice? Cheese.
I’m talking about the 1,892 competitors in the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, of course. The biennial competition was held in Milwaukee, Wisc., this year, from March 17–19. With 90 different contest classes to compete in, dairy makers of all kinds have an opportunity to walk away with a medal. Yogurt, butter, and cheese are all closely judged and celebrated. I believe this is confirmation that heaven is indeed a place on earth.
The heavyweight champ, weighing in with an impressive 98.896 points out of a possible 100, was Guggisberg Sugarcreek’s Premium Swiss cheese wheel. The Millersburg, Ohio, company was named the U.S. Champion of the entire contest.
BelGioioso, a culture favorite, also snatched some hard-earned first place prizes. In the soft & semi-soft mixed milk cheeses category, their crumbly sheep’s milk gorgonzola stole the show. In the aged provolone category, they won with their Sharp Provolone Mandarino, which also won a first place prize in 2011. Let it be known for anyone making pasta in the near future that BelGioioso also won first place in the Parmesan category with their American Grana. Want to try out some of these award-winning cheeses? Culture has some recipe suggestions, like a twist on classic Italian antipasto.
Vermont Creamery cleaned up house in the goat cheese categories. The company won second and third place in the soft goat’s milk cheeses category after showcasing a creamy goat cheese and a fresh goat cheese. They also won second place in the surface (mold) ripened soft goat’s milk cheeses category with a Coupole. In the soft cheese category, Vermont Creamery’s Fresh Cheese team took second place with mascarpone. The biggest win for the company, a first place spot in the flavored soft goat’s milk cheeses category, was won with their fresh goat cheese crumbles, flavored by apricot and thyme. If that gets your taste buds going, you’re going to love this Vermont Creamery Three Cream Cake.
For those interested in ripened or stinky cheese, look no further than the Jasper Hill Farm prize winners. Their Harbison, a soft-ripened cheese with vegetal, woodsy, and mustardy notes, took first place in the soft-ripened cheeses category. A special joint-venture cheese called the Greensward CaveMaster Reserve, created by both Murray’s Cheese and Jasper Hill Farm staff, came in first place in the smear ripened soft-cheeses category.
Litehouse Foods Artisan Reserve line also showed what it was made of in the gorgonzola category. The company won first place with its Double Creme Gorgonzola, full of creamy single-source milk. If you like the sound of that, check out the recipe culture posted for Litehouse Caramelized Pear and Gorgonzola Tarts.
To test out more prize-winning cheeses, check out the culture recipe library.