Saturday night my boyfriend and I had the chance to attend a 25th birthday celebration for Vermont Butter & Cheese Company at Shelburne Vineyard in Shelburne, VT. I’ve been enjoying their products for a couple of years now and appreciate their values so I was honored to be able to celebrate their birthday. Considering that American artisan cheese is considered by many to still be in its infancy it’s incredible they’ve been making their delicious cheeses for so long.
The party spread centered on the reason for the celebration: 25 years of great cheese. There were lavish tables of Vermont Butter & Cheese products like Bonne Bouche, a French-style cheese with an ash-coated rind and Fresh Crottin, a young goat cheese with a slight citrus flavor. I also especially enjoyed dipping freshly made biscotti into their buttery mascarpone. The array of products in my local Whole Foods is pretty limited so I enjoyed being able to sample the whole line including one simply labeled ‘New Cheese Experiment.’ There were also a great many cheeses, condiments, charcuterie, and other accompaniments provided by artisans from Vermont and beyond.
In addition, there were appetizers made from recipes in the upcoming In a Cheesemaker’s Kitchen, a cookbook by Vermont Butter & Cheese founder Allison Hooper. (I bought a copy at the Festival so I’m certain you’ll be seeing some of her creations around this blog sometime soon.) We enjoyed everything from devil’s food cupcakes with mascarpone to a crudite platter with a trio of cheese-based dipping sauces. My personal favorite appetizer was Flammelkeuche “French Tarte Flambee,” a recipe created by Chef Raymond Ost of Sandrine’s Bistro in Cambridge, MA. It consisted of a flatbread-like crust topped with cheese, caramelized onions, and bacon. It was one of those dishes that could have easily been pedestrian, but the quality of the ingredients made it better than the sum of its parts.
Accompanying the selection of cheese and cheese-centric appetizers were wines from the Vineyard, each with pairing suggestions. I sampled three of the four offerings and decided that I most liked the NuMondo. It was a smooth, pleasantly fruity red wine without a lot of tannins so it paired well with the cheese and appetizers without overpowering their flavors. My visits to Alexis Bailly in Minnesota have taught me that great wine can come from unexpected places and the Shelburne Vineyard wines continued that believe. I’ve often heard the phrase “What grows together goes together” and that seemed to be true of the local wine and cheese at the event.
When we weren’t nibbling we were taking in thoughtful speeches from the spouses of the founders and then the founders’ themselves. Hearing them muse on the growth of their company, and the Vermont artisan cheese movement at large, tugged at my desire to shed the trappings of a corporate life for cheese making. I often find the more I hear from cheese makers the more I can relate and hear my own aspirations and passions in their words. Maybe someday?
All in all the night was pretty fantastic. We watched the sunset over vineyard, sampled great cheese in the company of its makers, and celebrated one of the pioneers in American artisan cheese. Thanks to everyone at Vermont Butter & Cheese Company for all the hospitality.
The only thing that could possibly be as good was what was set to follow the next day: The Vermont Cheesemakers Festival. Stay tuned for my next post for a recap of the Festival and some of the great cheese-related tips I picked up.