A Pacific Northwest heat wave blew in at just the right time this year, gracing the 4th annual Seattle Cheese festival with gorgeous sunny skies and warm temperatures. The Puget Sound area broke multiple heat records on Saturday as the high reached 90 degrees, returning to a more temperate 74 on Sunday. While the heavens delivered a great weekend for attendees, the challenge for cheese folks was keeping the cheese from wilting. I overheard more than a few people suggest nachos and grilled cheese as a practical solution for all of the product melting in the sun....nevertheless, cheese revelers came out in force as they have in previous years and enjoyed the range of domestic and international cheeses there from far and wide.
Some things haven't changed: attendees walked the road that runs through Pike Place Market, sampling cheese brought in by distributors, domestic artisan cheesemakers and others. In the wine tent, folks could sample wines along with cheeses and explore pairings; seminars featured cheese luminaries such as Jeff Roberts, Daphne Zepos and Peggy Smith. The great thing about the Seattle Cheese Festival is that there's something for everyone from the cheese novice to the cheese aficionado...it's a big cheese party that everyone's invited to, not just people in the know, or foodies, or cheese professionals.
Some things changed just a bit: this year, the truckle rolling event was more complex, consisting of a relay wherein teams rolled their truckles down a course, then handed off (or perhaps 'paddled off') the truckle to the next team member. The chef team took honors this time, beating out three other teams for the top prize in the fast paced event, sort of a combination rugby scrum and Keystone Cops episode. Another popular attraction was the live mozzarella making demo held at the chef's stage.
The Seattle Cheese Festival is a fun experience...it can be crowded, but simply plan to go early or later toward the end of the day and you've pretty much solved that problem. I think that festivals are harbingers of the future growth and popularity of the focus of the celebration...based on the increasingly popular and well attended Seattle Cheese Festival, it's fair to say that artisan cheese is continuing to occupy the minds of folks interested in sustainably made artisan foods.