by Dan Hogan
How could fine cheese, wine, and bread be any better? If they are award-winning Texas cheeses, artisan bread and fine wine provided free at Dallas’ Celebration Restaurant, they can! Several Texas cheese makers competed at the American Cheese Society’s August 2011 conference and brought home well-deserved awards. Mozzarella Company’s Paula Lambert hosted the Dallas event to showcase the Texas ACS champion cheeses on Thursday, October 27.
Mozzarella Company, Dallas, TX
Paula Lambert founded Mozzarella Company in Dallas in 1982 when artisan cheese making in the US was a rarity. In the ensuing years, her cheeses have won many awards and inspired her two books on cheese and cooking: The Cheese Lover’s Cookbook and Guide and Cheese, Glorious Cheese. Her Pecan Praline Mascarpone on Empire Bakery’s Raisin Pumpernickel was divine.
Four of Paula’s cheeses won awards in their categories at the American Cheese Society competition: Goat Ricotta won 1st place, Hoja Santa (Herbal Goat) won 1st place, Pecan Praline Mascarpone Torta won 1st place, and Queso Blanco with Chile and Epazote won 3rd place.
The American Cheese Society was founded in 1983 and holds its yearly conference and cheese judging in early August, each year at a different city. ACS encourages cheese makers, cheese buyers, distributors and enthusiasts from all of the Americas to join and attend the yearly meetings. This year was ACS’ first conference held outside the US at Montreal, Canada from August 3-6, 2011. The judging covered 1,676 cheeses and cultured milk products from 258 different companies in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Managing logistics to deliver 1600+ cheeses across the border while maintaining detailed records on the cheeses was a challenging task. You can see the categories and all winners at the ACS website.
Texas was well-represented with several of our artisan cheese makers winning awards. In addition to the Mozzarella Company, the following cheese makers won awards and were represented at the Dallas event:
(Photo courtesy the American Cheese Society)
Brazos Valley Cheese, Waco, TX
Brazos Valley Cheese won first place and second place with two Bries, Eden and Brie respectively. Their Cheddar won a 3rd place.
Brazos Valley Cheese is made just north of Waco near Elm Mott at the Homestead Heritage Traditional Crafts Village. Many traditional products and crafts are displayed and sold at their visitors’ center. They have a blacksmith who crafted parts for their spectacular new cheese-aging cave.
Eagle Mountain Farmhouse Cheese, Granbury, TX
Dave and Matt Eagle of Eagle Mountain Farmhouse Cheese won first place for their Birdville Reserve Gouda. Heavy traffic delayed Matt Eagle’s arrival until most of the other cheese makers were shutting down but his Gouda and award- winning Birdville Reserve proved worth the wait. Matt’s father, Dave Eagle, founded Eagle Mountain Cheese two years ago in Granbury and is already producing blue-ribbon winning cheese.
Latte Da Dairy, Flower Mound, TX
Dr. Anne C. Jones of Latte Da Dairy won second place for her Goat Cheese Truffles. Dr. Jones had conflicting commitment Thursday but Latte Da Dairy’s locally made farmstead cheeses and chocolate truffles were well presented by Sue Hanley, an assistant cheese maker at Latte Da.
Pure Luck Farm and Dairy, Dripping Springs, TX
Amelia Sweethardt of Pure Luck Farm won a second place for her Goat Blue, Hopelessly Blue and a second place for her Chevre, Basket Molded Chevre. Amelia’s cheeses are hard to get in the DFW area, but are often available at Scardello Artisan Cheese in Dallas and local stores near Dripping Springs.
Three Happy Cows, Dallas, TX
ACS judges other fermented dairy products such as yoghurt in the competition. Three Happy Cows’ Edgar Diaz won second and third place for Blueberry Drinkable Yoghurt and Plain Drinkable Yoghurt respectively. Edgar has been making yoghurt and cheese for 32 years; 25 years in his native Medellin, Colombia, and the last seven years here in Dallas.
All of these cheeses are frequently available at Scardello Artisan Cheese and some can be found at other fine groceries in our area. Scardello’s co-owner Rich Rogers attended and is pictured here with many of the cheese makers in this group photo. A few weeks back at the Barn Aid benefit in Balch Springs, Rich presented several cheeses from this award-winning group along with cheese from another local farmstead cheese maker and former ACS award winner, Veldhuizen Cheese.
Left to right: Ben and Amelia Sweethardt of Pure Luck, Marc Kuehl of Brazos Valley, Sue Hanley of Latte Da, Edgar Diaz of Three Cows, Rich Rogers of Scardello Artisan Cheese, Paula Lambert of Mozzarella Company and Rebeccah Durkin of Brazos Valley.
How can cheese, wine and bread get any better? Find out by attending next year’s celebration of Texas cheeses!
Dan Hogan is a local Software Engineer at his day job and an avid home cheese maker and member of the ACS.