Well, I vote we start an annual Academy Awards Ceremony of Cheese. The creative folks at Fromagination gave me the idea, with their weekly newsletter touting this year's "The Cheese Oscars," so I'm running with their idea and making a few categories of my own. Of course all the winners are from Wisconsin. Deal with it, people.
And the winners are:
Outstanding Performance by a Goat Milk Cheese: Snow White Goat, Carr Valley. This cheese won Best of Show at the 2008 American Cheese Society Conference and FINALLY put Wisconsin goat cheeses on the map. Hallelujah.
Best New World Adaptation: Dunbarton Blue, Roelli Cheese. This cheese is a cheddar blue style and is quite possibly the best new cheese I tasted in 2008. Watch for Chris Roelli to become the new rock star of cheese in 2009.
Outstanding Achievement in Affinage: Lil Will's Big Cheese, Bleu Mont Dairy. Made from the milk produced during the high grazing season in southwest Wisconsin at Uplands Cheese and then aged to perfection in Willi Lehner's underground cave, this cheese is the epitome of Wisconsin terroir. It's also really expensive. At almost $40 a pound, eat slowly.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Uplands Cheese. Mike and Carol Gingrich are responsible for showcasing Wisconsin's dairy Renaissance, when in 2001, their one and only Wisconsin artisan cheese won Best in Show at the American Cheese Society. The American and foreign press suddenly discovered Wisconsin was - and is - more than a cheddarhead state (although we make a damn fine cheddar as well).
Best Supporting Cracker: Potter's Toasted Sesame. Crafted in Madison, Wis., and using nearly all Wisconsin ingredients, Potter's Crackers are the best artisan cracker you'll find. Period. Available in nearly 100 seasonal flavors, the classic Toasted Sesame is still my favorite. Pair it with a slice of Marieke's Fenugreek Gouda and welcome to culinary heaven.
There, all done. And you didn't even have to spend four hours at your television to see who won! Now I just need to craft a Cheese Oscar Statue, and we'll be all set.