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Return of the Mac

How could judging the SF Food Wars Mac and Cheese contest not be awesome? I did a lot of great events with my book, but I think this judging gig may have been the most fun. 16 macaroni and cheeses to taste? And the one vegan entry dropped out? What’s not to love? I’m from a casserole culture, and as casseroles go, I will say I like my tuna noodle casseroles a little better than my mac and cheeses, but it’s a pretty close fight. Being an, ahem, cheese professional, I suppose I should switch my allegiance publicly to mac and cheese, but often mac and cheese is functional, a way to clean out my fridge of all those cheese samples and odds and ends. Compared to other contests I’ve judged, this was a pretty loose: no score sheets, no comments, just eat and compare. Hey, you could even talk to other judges! Which was great because I was judging with Heidi Gibson from the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen and Tamara Palmer, “Resident Judge”. DSC00143 Anyways, I’d say that I would have been happy eating a full plate of almost any of the dishes served to me. When one is put in the position of judging, you have to make some distinctions that you would never make if you were eating at a friend’s house, or even a restaurant. Side by side, one dish being a little more bready, or a little too salty is much more obvious than in real life. After tasting them all, and then re-tasting some of our favorites though, we were pretty unified in our decision that the Boffo Cart “Vermont Cheese Forest” was our favorite. Here it is all nestled snuggly in its maple-sugar bacon nest: DSC00152. I will say that our 2nd place winner: Fowl Mouthed Ladies “Quack and Cheese” (with duck confit) stopped me in my tracks when I first tasted it. I would have been happy if this had been the winner as well. Our 3rd place winner: JazzyB’z Recipez “Pork Belly Mac” was really the most classic version we had, at least to us. I think Heidi was the one who suggested that if we did this again there could be prizes for classic vs. freestyle. The People’s Choice winner was one of our favorites too. SF Delicious Catering made “Smoked Up Mac” that came with habanero-infused olive oil on the side and little jalapenos on top. Super good: DSC00148 I really loved the pickled accompaniments with the runner-up People’s Choice award. I can’t figure out how to make a cent or euro symbol with my keyboard but they called it “The Crusty Vermonter” even though they admitted using mostly Velveeta after they won their award. Debbie Does Dinner’s Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheese is also worthy of mention for making the one I would most likely copy for home use. I don’t cook a lot of meat at home, but I do love some squash and hazelnuts! (People’s Choice Winner, People’s Choice Runner-up and the Butternut Squash cooker looking like she wants to kill me for taking her picture which I didn’t notice until I uploaded the pics at home) DSC00125 Here’s the Photographer’s Choice winner. It sure looked good: DSC00147 So anyways, an awesome time was had by all. If anyone out there is having cheese or cheese-oriented cooking contests, I’m available as a judge. Especially if there’s free beer. Look how happy Laurie is with her plate of food! DSC00140 Read the original post on Gordonzola’s blog.
cheesemonger Gordon Edgar is the author of Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge.

Great Cheeses from ACS 2012: Part 1

I am only mentioning cheeses that are new to me here because – as anyone there can attest – there were too many awesome cheeses for one person to blog about. My versions of these from past years are still pretty much valid, so check those out as well if you want. Here is a […] Read More..

American Cheese Society 2012: Judging

Whenever I get a chance to be a cheese judge at the American Cheese Society Conference, I grab it. I really do love it. I am honored to be asked – and that is part of it – but I love it mostly because it is pure cheese: just me, my mouth, and 1771 anonymous […] Read More..

Gordonzola’s Humble Suggestions for Getting the Most out of the Cheese Conference

I’ve lost track of how many ACS conferences I have attended. I pretty sure I have attended every one not on the East Coast since 1999. Almost universally, they have been awesome experiences that have taught me innumerable things about cheese and introduced me to people I otherwise might never have met. Back when I […] Read More..

New facebook page

I started a new facebook page because during vacation it dawned on me that I really wish I hadn’t given the “Cheesemonger” facebook page the name of my book. For one reason, it’ll be confusing when my next book comes out. For another, it’s embarrassing commenting on other people’s facebooks as “Cheesemonger: A Life on […] Read More..

When Cheese Goes Bad

There are times of the year I associate with bad cheese. Usually it is after a holiday, when a distributor has bought too much of something perishable that didn’t sell. Buyers are alerted to these deals with flyers titled things like “Hot Sheet”, “Killer Deals”, and “Margin Builders.” This is definitely risky buying for the […] Read More..