Friday, December 12, 2014

Spreading the Curd in Montana

Regan deVictoria and Cheese!
When I suggested Gordon Edgar's book “Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge” as a summer reading selection at the Butte-Silver Bow Public Library, I never imagined it would lead to a small scale artisan cheese festival.

An Overflow Crowd Attended
Regan deVictoria, the library’s programming manager, ran with the suggestion. And on August 16th, Butte hosted the largest celebration of handmade cheese ever held in Montana.More than eighty people (double the expected number) enjoyed nearly four hours of curd related talk, tasting and making in the main lobby of the public library.

Matt Moore ~ Cheesemaking
The event opened with a local home cheesemaker, Matt Moore, demonstrating a mozzarella make. Matt started by saying he became a cheesemaker after reading a book he got at the library, Ricki Carroll’s Home Cheese Making. Matt has been up to his elbows in curd ever since. Some type of cheese sandwich accompanies his toddler son’s every meal.

Close Up of a Tasting Tray
Next the crowd indulged in tasting twenty-two cheeses that I brought from the American Cheese Society Conference sale in Madison, WI.

For many people in the audience, it was the first time they had tasted goat or sheep milk cheeses. Regan herself is now a goat cheese evangelist. With cheese taste and talk still swirling on their tongues, the audience then become absorbed in an hour long conversation, storytelling and QA session with Gordon Edgar.

We connected with Gordon through Skype as he sat in his San Francisco apartment and felt entirely at home with him, as though we were all in the same room.

Live Skype Session with Gordon
Thanks to the effort of many good people, the entire event worked like magic. On a Friday night in an historic hard rock mining town, an admiration for handmade food was reborn.

Twenty-two Handmade Cheeses
Cheese geeks and tech geeks together in the open ferment of a public library became the perfect recipe for enchantment.

Samples Included a First Place Blue