GRATE CHEESE ESCAPES
The New Cheese Culture
Cheese Lovers Are Saying "Show Me The Whey"
Would you ever book an entire vacation around a food? What if I told you that food was… cheese? Okay, if you’re lactose intolerant than this may not be the Feel-Good Forecast for you. But cheese-lovers around the world, keep reading.
There are a handful of foods that make us feel good, but none as unique as cheese. Perhaps there really is something in the cheese that makes us happy (such as tyrosine) or maybe this comfort food brings us positive emotions because of the social connection around it... and that is really where our story begins.
Cheese has always been more than just a food, due to the very nature of how it’s made. For instance, in a little town in Switzerland for the last 37 years, people have gathered to celebrate the cows returning home from pasture. Alpine transhumance, or, procession of the cows, is a day-long celebration filled with yodeling, folk dancing, and of course, cheese. Beautiful cows with flowers in their hair and decorative cowbells put everyone in a good moooed.
And while Swiss cheese may be a favorite amongst many, every culture seems to have their own rituals and celebrations. People are seeking to explore different cultures through their cheeses in all its delicious forms:
Spain has manchego. Georgia has khachapuri. Greece has halloumi.
For your average American, those cheeses and dishes weren't on the kitchen table 20 years ago. Your basic brie might have been the center of the party... now look where we are!
So with our cheese horizon expanding, what does it all mean for the modern day curd enthusiast? You could try a different cheese from around the world every day for a year and still not cover them all. This access to the abundance of cheese has created cheese monsters around the world who will die trying though (hi there).
It’s hard to think of an experience that wouldn’t be made better without a little cheese...
When a restaurant puts in a mozzarella bar, it’s no longer just a restaurant.
When a cheese maker gives you a tour of their farm and presents a cheese pairing, it’s no longer just a shop.
When a hike ends with a fondue picnic, it’s no longer just an outdoor activity.
They become experiences worth seeking out.
Take mozzarella, an incredible yet simple cheese. Most restaurants will loop mozzarella in with the rest of their appetizers, maybe paired with some fresh sliced tomatoes. Delicious, right? But when Nancy Silverton was inspired to create a mozzarella bar, she changed the cheese game.
It was no longer just about presenting a delicious product, it was about the experience around it. At Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles, the mozzarella bar is the shining centerpiece of the dining experience. With a handful of seasonable mozzarella dishes assembled right in front of you, sometimes by the legendary Nancy herself, you get to enjoy mozzarella in a much more exciting way.
Not every food lends itself to this sort of immersion, but mozzarella cheese does. It is a blank canvas for intense flavors like anchovies, radicchio, fried rosemary, and black olive tapenade. This lead us to ponder, how else can we experience cheese in a more immersive and engaging way?
You have to be a romantic to invest yourself, your money, and your time in cheese.
- Anthony Bourdain
Hooked on a (Fromage) Feeling
Call Cheese Journeys for a Gouda Time
Would you rather take a cheddar odyssey in England, or explore the land of gouda (AKA Amsterdam)? With Cheese Journeys, you can do it all. Anna Juhl crafts cheese-focused experiences for the food enthusiasts who are so over the typical packaged food tour. With Anna and her talented team, you can spend anywhere from 4-11 days immersing yourself in the history and culture of all the top cheese destinations around the world.
In England, this looks like waking up in a luxurious 16th century farmhouse owned by the Montgomery family, world famous for their Cheddar cheese, and taking on the role of a local. Painting cheese in an 1000 year-old barn with natural light flooding in. Enjoying a ploughman’s lunch with Anna's traveling chefs. Learning about the British farmhouse cheese renaissance at Neal's Yard Dairy.
If you've ever found yourself enjoying cheese and saying "I could eat this everyday" then this might just be the experience for you. But it's not just about the cheese.
When you travel with Anna, she brings incredible people in the food & wine space together. Can you picture being wined & dined by 10-15 of the most legendary British cheesemakers? Anna prides her tours in their ability to connect likeminded, passionate people. Oftentimes during dinner or throughout their journey, Anna will encourage her travelers to tell their stories. She didn't say it, but I will: cheese lovers are the best kind of people! Anyone going on a Cheese Journey is going to be an interesting conversationalist with tales to tell.
And when you're attracting likeminded people, It's not uncommon for the travelers to create friendships that last long after the journey ends.
Anna's favorite part of her Cheese Journeys? When she gets to spend some time in the kitchen with her chefs. She loves learning from Chef Sylvain, a London-based chef, who welcomes rendezvous in the kitchen and opportunities to teach.
We both agreed that our everyday lives are truly enriched by taking home lessons learned from people during our travels. And that is a big part of the mission for Anna. So when it comes to recreating a cheese experience back home, the details matter. It's about having the right tablecloth, the authentic cheeseboard made in the Alps by a local craftsman, and bringing home what you've learned about cheese so you can relive it as frequently as you'd like.
If you have ever wondered what it's like to be treated like royalty, we imagine this is as close as it gets.
The Vermont Cheese Experience
Cheese Is The Answer, Who Cares What The Question Is?
On August 11, 2019, the sun will rise on 125 makers on the shores of Lake Champlain, at the breathtaking Shelburne Farms' 1400 acre working farm. Vermont is America's premium artisanal cheese sate with about 50 cheesemakers, enough to make it the state with the highest number of cheesemakers per capita! And many of them will be at the Vermont Cheesemaker Festival, a one-day celebration of all that is good and hole-y (pun intended).
Cheese lovers from all over New England (and up into Canada) travel to the region, making a weekend trip out of the occasion. You can even stay in one of the Shelburne Farm cottages or bungalows to make sure you don't miss a minute of the cheese goodness. Being surrounded by the magnificently made structures on the property allows festival attendees to get a real sense of the history of the farm and the family that owns it.
"We’ve been making cheese for thousands of years and people love a product in its most basic form. There's a certain level of craftsmanship and artistic ability required to turn something that could spoil into something astounding" - Tom Bivins, Executive Director of the Vermont Cheese Council
The festival lines up perfectly with Vermont's Open Farm Week, where you can get a get a behind-the-scenes look into Vermont's vibrant working agricultural landscape. Creamery Day (the Friday before the festival) is when creameries not typically open to the public are pulling back the curtain. A not-to-be-missed special opportunity for those who love to see the process and meet the makers!
And for those who also love a good craft brew, cider, or glass of what-have-you, Dig In Vermont has you covered. You can create your own experiential tour of Vermont that Saturday with the help of this brilliant agritourism driven website. We can't think of a better way to spend a summer weekend, soaking up the views of the Adirondacks while munching on some of Vermont's finest.
Special Note To The Hospitality & Tourism Professionals
Look to the local cheese makers in your region to collaborate in unique ways. Learn about the history of your local cheese culture and recreate the experience for your customers.