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Cream of the Crop

Side Dishes: Vermont cheeses pick up awards at ACS

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Though they didn’t match last year’s haul, Vermont cheeses made a not-too-shabby showing in Montréal over the weekend, picking up 26 awards at the American Cheese Society’s 2011 conference and competition.

Two creamy concoctions from Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery — Crème Fraîche and Fromage Frais — took home first-in-class awards, and the company garnered 10 accolades overall.

Other winners included Manchester and Rupert cheeses from Consider Bardwell Farm; cheddars from Cabot Creamery Cooperative and Grafton Village Cheese; burrata from Maplebrook Farm; Inspiration from Stowe’s Mt. Mansfield Creamery; and various fromages from Thistle Hill Farm, Spring Brook Farm, Bonnieview Farm and Neighborly Farms of Vermont.

Vermont was shut out of the Best in Show category for the first time in three years, however; the top honor went to Rogue River Blue from Oregon’s Rogue Creamery.

Basking in the warmth of an ACS nod were the ladies of Plainfield’s Willow Moon Farm, whose plain feta — in its first competition ever — tied with VBCC for third-in-class. “We’re pretty excited,” says Kim Ingraham, Willow Moon’s cheese maker.

Unfortunately, Ingraham and her mom, Sharon Peck, couldn’t travel to Montréal because of the lingering effects of this spring’s devastating flood. “Between resources and time, we haven’t been able to do much extracurricular,” Ingraham says. The flood waters claimed several animals and acres of pasture, and cheese production went slack for a while as they dealt with the debris.

Also wiped out was Willow Moon’s entire stock of aged raw-milk Tomme — several hundred pounds’ worth — which Ingraham says they would have entered in this year’s competition. “[The flood] has affected pretty much every part of our business.”

Here’s looking to Raleigh, N.C., where ACS members will meet (and compete) next summer.

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