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Not So Cheesy Anymore

Roquefort is green-veined, crumbly and sharp in flavor. Roquefort is green-veined, crumbly and sharp in flavor.

Ever heard of a turophile? Over hundreds of acres of verdant pasture populated by happy, mooing cows, turophiles, or connoisseurs of cheese, are changing the quiet face of the dairy world. If wine tourism was the craze of this decade, could cheese trailing be far behind? Elevating cheese to the level of an art, cheese trails treat tourists to the fascinating processes that bring lovingly aged wheels of cheese to their tables.

With almost sacred attention to detail, cheesemakers in Vermont churn out a range of delightfully named cheeses. So while Bayley Hazen Blue is a creamy, blue-veined cheese, Crème Fraîche, made from goat’s milk, is the perfect accompaniment to wine.

In Vermont, the Cheese Council, an umbrella organization for the growing number of cheesemakers in the region, established the Vermont Cheese Trail. Their efforts have dramatically increased the number of visitors to cheese farms in the region and boosted the sale of artisanal cheeses to gourmet restaurants in the big cities.

1.    The Cellars at Jasper Hill helps smaller farmers market their cheese.1. The Cellars at Jasper Hill helps smaller farmers market their cheese.The farms are now dreaming big. Jasper Hill Farm began operations 12 years ago, hoping to create a business model that would rejuvenate the local dairy economy. Now, its pet project is Cellars, an aging facility that guides smaller dairy farmers through the cheese maturation process and helps them market their cheese. Elsewhere, across Vermont, cheese-making rooms are being refitted with Plexiglas panels so that visitors can watch farm workers go about the process of making cheese.

Loving cheese is such a serious pursuit that it merits an entire festival. In South Africa, an annual cheese festival spread over four mouth-watering days draws thousands of turophiles. Tourists and cheesemakers converge in a fairground-like atmosphere, to partake of exotic cheeses at the cheese emporium, experience a village-style cheese market, a milk factory, and participate in cooking workshops where celebrity chefs are invited to unleash a storm of activity.

Elsewhere, in the south of France, Roquefort, a salty ewe’s milk cheese veined with deep green mold, has become symbolic of the rich French gastronomic tradition. Geographically designated, Roquefort cheese is only produced in seven cellars located in the caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, which run through the Combalou plateau. Guided tours into the cellars show you how closely guarded the Roquefort secret is. Société, the most flamboyant of the cellars, even puts up a sound and light show celebrating the history of Roquefort cheese, and treats you to the glorious sight of 33,000 loaves of cheese ripening beneath limestone arches. Indeed, that’s manna in the form of cheese – what more could one ask for?

Traditional Swiss cheesemaking

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Last modified on Tuesday, 09 November 2010 19:11

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