For the Love of Cheese

I love cheese.  One of the best things about moving to the Cincy area is the residents LOVE their cheeses.  If you walk into a grocery store, it is very common to find hundreds of varieties of cheese.  Cheese is it’s own segment of the food pyramid in the Midwestern (or at least my) diet.  The folks at The University of Michigan and Mount Sinai - St. Lukes hospital are right…cheese is addictive!

In an effort to learn more about my new community, I’ve been purchasing deals on Groupon and Living Social.  When I saw tickets for Cincinnati Cheese Festival, I knew I had to attend.  I felt like Charlie Bucket, but instead of chocolate I’d get samples of cheese! 

This is a picture of us before the cheese binge.  The festival had over 300 cheeses featured.  Selecting which ones to sample was hard work! 
Fortunately, most of the cheeses we sampled were also for sale.

One my first and favorite dishes and cheeses was this queso pasta that had mexican queso and a blend of cheddars. 
After a quick snapshot, we headed to the Christian Moerlien Brewery warehouse where we had the opportunity to sample hundreds of cheeses.

Chris enjoyed his gouda...

while I enjoyed a bite of gorgonzola.  Apparently gorgonzola is the gateway cheese to blue cheese.  Before that evening, I had never heard of a cheese as being referred to as a "gateway cheese".
In addition to the cheese tasting, there was a "grilled cheese meltdown".

Eight different teams competed in a grilled cheese "meltdown" (competition).  At that point, I wished I hadn't taken so many samples before trying the sandwiches.
Initially, I thought this whiskey rye bread, English cheddar, and caramelized onion masterpiece was going to be my favorite sandwich.

That was until I tried this waffle grilled cheese sandwich from Taste of Belgium.   The combination of waffle, Grafton Village Two Year Aged Cheddar, Roth Grand Cru Gruyere, and McCall's Irish Cheddar was divine.  I wish I could eat one every Sunday morning.  I wasn't the only taster who enjoyed this sandwich.  The crowd voted this sandwich best in show!
After eating all of this cheese, I was STUFFED!  I needed to slow down and pace myself.  I made Chris my cheese screener, and only tried cheeses he thought I would enjoy.  

I was able to find room for the blue cheese stuffed olives from Kroger.  They were amazing!   I'm really happy I was able to pick a few up today.  
After moseying around the brewery area, we headed to another cheese tent!  This area had live entertainment.

We enjoyed rocking out to the tunes of Blue Caboose.

The cheese of the evening was a one year old Mimolette.  The creamy, buttery cheese was divine!!

By the end of the evening, I felt like I had a solid brick of cheese in my stomach.  We made up for our cheese drought in China in one evening.  If you are interested in attending next year’s Cincinnati Cheese Festival, please click here.

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¡Viva México!