Every year cheese makers, mongers, and the similarly cheese-obsessed gather somewhere in the country for three solid days of cheese talk and revelry.
This year the American Cheese Society Conference was held in beautiful Burlington, Vermont.
Days at the conference are filled with sessions. This year's theme was "Achieving Sustainability," and the subject was explored on many levels: on the farm, in business, and throughout the country.
At night, we had opportunities to explore the area. It's hard not to be jealous of Vermonters, not only because they have a lively cheese culture (ha! cheese pun), but because it's just so lovely there. But then again, come February . . .
The first night we attended a mixer in the "Breeding Barn" at Shelburne Farms. A working dairy farm that doubles as an education center, Shelburne's buildings date back to the late 19th century.
With Stuart Veldhuizen, we explored the old barns and fields. Stuart recreated for us a day in the life of a dairy farmer at the turn of the previous century.
The next night was a cruise around Lake Champlain where we were pleasantly wind-whipped alongside Paula Lambert.
The final night was the "Festival of Cheese" where all of the 1200-plus cheese entries are put out for tasting. Needless to say, it's a little obscene, all that cheese, but it was great to see the Texas cheesemakers enjoying their awards (together they took home 13!).
Award-winner Amelia Sweethardt from Pure Luck Dairy with her husband, Ben.
And great to watch this lady carve cheese into sculpture.