Hello from Montreal. If you have seen any of my tweets from the last day or so you will know that I have had the honour of being on the jury for the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. The event takes place every two years and is organized by The Dairy Farmers of Canada (so it is all cow’s milk cheese). Cheesemakers across Canada can enter.
Here I am (kind of blurry) standing in front of two (of 4 total) tables which were being prepared for the Washed Rind category. See how goofy happy I look! You would not believe how many lovely cheeses we were surrounded by. And smelled of by the end of the afternoon.
This is a bit of a better view. Recognize anything? We taste everything blind so have no idea which cheese has won until the results are tallied up.
Above are some of my co-jury members very seriously tasting cheese. We all want to respect the work the cheese makers have put in so we do out best to be objective and analytical—as well as look for that “WOW” factor (amongst over 200 cheeses!).
Today we judged from 9 until about 4:30 and covered two cheddar categories (defined by age), washed rinds, fresh cheeses, semi-soft cheese and blue.
In a funny way though blue would seem the most challenging category (for palate fatigue) young cheddars are also tough–they are mild and subtle and you must really concentrate to not miss flavour and nuance when tasting many at a time.
I will write no more as we’ll all be going out to dinner soon (what? we had a 2 hour break after 7 hours of cheese eating, time to eat.) Tomorrow we finish choosing the category champions and ultimately decide on the Grand Prix winner.
Will write more about the experience hopefully for Swallow and perhaps even for the Globe.
Meanwhile, I just sit here and think, “How cool is this!” (But also, “no I don’t want yogurt for breakfast or no cream in my tea please.”)