2008 ACS Conference Blog: Away We Go!

We woke up in Brockville, Ontario and my Dad took a walk while I re-iced the cheese. I had some re-frozen ice packs to insert, along with ice from the ubiquitous motel ice machine. I also had a digital temp gauge stuck in one of the boxes to monitor how fast it was warming. Yesterday it started at 37 degrees F and didn’t change even after I crossed the CAN border, so I switched the probe to the other box, which was at 39 degrees F in Montreal and then to Brockville. In the morning it was still at 39 degrees F. I added ice and re-frozen paks to all the boxes, and then put the big boxes in the trunk under a sleeping bag. The biggest box stayed at 39 degrees F through the day, even when we stopped for lunch and couldn’t find shade, so we covered the trunk with a white cloth anchored by the boxes of brochures that Jennifer provided.


The day started overcast, but the sun came out for real by 11am, and stayed out until we reached our stopping point. This seemed especiallhy brutal as we inched over the Point Huron, MI bridge and customs crossing, but the temp gauge was solid at 39 degrees F the whole time. At the border I was terrified that the border agent would see the wire for the gauge sticking out of the box and immediately call the Marines in, but he didn’t — he had more of a problem with the boxes of brochures…!?! (He said, “you know, using an international bridge for commerce could make you liable for stiff duty fees…” but he let us go with ‘just a warning’ — ouch.)

When we stopped in East Lansing, MI the probe read 41 degrees F. I re-iced everything before we retired — this room didn’t have a refrigerator in it, but they provided a tiny one when I asked. Still I could fit about nine of the smaller paks in the little freezer section overnight. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember that even though they were flexible when I put them in the tiny freezer compartment, they were very stiff when I tried to take them out. It took quite a bit of manipulation to wiggle them all out, but I did, and then iced everything else. Those extra plastic bags that Cathe had offered when I picked up the cheese really came in handy. I made sure to park on the south side of the motel building so that any morning sun would be blocked.

2008 ACS Conference Blog: Pick Up And Go

The Maine Cheese Guild has sent Eric Rector to represent them at the 2008 ACS conference and competition, to be held July 23rd – 26th in Chicago, Illinois.

At last year’s conference, held in Burlington, VT, many Maine cheesemakers attended the seminars, classes, and other knowledge diffusion events at the conference. In addition, MCG members won 17 awards in the largest US cheese competition every held. We very much hope to build on that experience and success this year.

Eric left a week early to also deliver many of this year’s competition entries from the Guild; below is a semi-regular entry of his experience.


After tying up loose-ends around the farm, and delivering a last batch of yogurt (until I return) to the Belfast Coop, I arrived at The State of Maine Cheese Co. on schedule at 8:30am, with a cheerful greeting by Cathe Morril, who had helpfully agreed to serve as a drop-point for the competition entries. We sorted through the boxes of entries, I cataloged all of them against their packing lists, and made sure to pack them so they could be easily “re-iced” but not soaked in the process, and compact enough to fit into my 2001 VW Jetta, along with all my other stuff. At 9:00am on the dot I pulled out of Cathe’s parking lot (after admiring her new sign), and I was off.

Route 17 through Augusta, to Wintrop, left in Jay, right in W. Paris, and another right in Bethel to get onto Route 2. Gorham, St. Johnsbury, and then Derby Line before I entered Quebec. Eventually I made it to Montreal where I picked up my father at the airport (he found a cheap flight to join me on the drive). We left Montreal and got about 100 miles down the St. Lawrence River before stopping at Brockville, Ontario for dinner and the night. Our motel offered a refrigerator (to refreeze ice packs), and an industrial size ice machine (for more cooling) to keep the cheese in good shape.

Our dinner (on a roof-top patio) featured blooming thunderstorm clouds to the east over the river, sparked by the occasional bolt of lightning over northern New York, lit in the dying light of the sunset behind us. Our big day of driving lay ahead tomorrow, but we enjoyed the show while it lasted. Unfortunately, neither of us remembered to bring our camera! Next time…

Trip To France Planned

Janet’s Agriculture Tour to France was planned for early spring 2009, but has been re-scheduled for 2010; check in with at the Guild web site for more information about dates and updated itineraries.

Maine Cheese Guild France Trip Proposal:

February 22 – March 3, 2009
Day 1 – Sunday 22nd Feb – Depart from Logan Airport to catch our overnight flight to Paris. Relax with
In flight meal service and entertainment.
Day 2 – Monday 23rd Feb Arrive Paris, and transfer to hotel in Paris city center “the City of Lights” is truly one of the world’s great cities. Although it has a population of over 10 million, the historic core of the city is largely untouched by modern development. Its broad boulevards and wide open spaces create stunning vistas punctuated by world famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe.
This afternoon there will be a guided panoramic sightseeing tour of the city including the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysees, Place de la Concorde and Notre Dame Cathedral. Welcome dinner tonight. O/N PARIS (D)
Day 3 – Tuesday 24th Feb Early departure from hotel this morning to visit Rungis Market in the south of Paris, the largest wholesale market in France. It has a surface area of 320 hectares and employs 15,000 to facilitate the flow of millions of tons of produce, meat, cheese, poultry and even flowers. Rungis is a distribution point of food not only for France but for many European countries. France produces more than 250 different cheeses – the selection is endless. There will be a guided tour of the market followed by breakfast with a chance to sample some the local produce being sold.
Afterwards continue heading south passing through the rural regions of Isle de France and Champagne en route to Burgundy with a visit featuring a number of well known cheese makes including Brie and Coloumiers. Lunch included at a Ferme Auberge.
This afternoon continue south visiting en route a dairy farm producing a number of specialty cheeses of this region – St Florentin and Soumaintrain
Arrive later to this afternoon in Dijon. Famed for its spicy mustard produced here, Dijon is the ancient capital of Burgundy. The region, of course, is renowned for its fabulous wine and cheese. Dijon is the perfect place to enjoy these delicacies along with its many fine buildings and old world charm.


Day 4 – Wednesday 25th Feb Depart Dijon this morning and continue south traveling through the famous Cote D’Or (Gold Coast) wine producing region on Burgundy. En route make a stop at a vineyard for a tour of the winery and wine-tasting. A lunch stop will be made in the town of Beaune, an important wine producing centre. The town still retains its defensive city walls as well as many other attractive medieval features. This afternoon continue south through Charolles region of Burgundy where there will be a visit to a goat farm which produces goat cheeses such as Le Charolais and L’Alexou. O/N Clermont Ferrand (BD)

Day 5 – Thursday 26th Feb Today there will be a full day program visiting a number of cheese producers in the Auvergne region. Lunch included today.

Visit Laiterie de la Montagne in St Nectaire which produces a number of cheeses typical to this area including St Nectaire, Cantal and Fourme d’Ambert. Visit Gaec de Joli Bois, a farm with Montbeliarde Cattle (known as the cheese maker breed in France) also producing St Nectaire Cheese. O/N Clermont Ferrand (BL)

Day 6 – Friday 27th Feb Depart the Auvergne today and head north towards the Loire Valley. The Loire is France’s longest river stretching east to west for over 600 miles. The mild climate and fertile alluvial soil make this a region well suited for growing fruit, vines and vegetables. In addition the region is home to a unique concentration of chateaux, some of the most extravagant and stunning examples of Renaissance and Baroque architecture to be found in all of Europe. Today we visit La Fromagerie Jacquin, which makes a large range of cheese from both cow and goat’s milk.

This afternoon there will be a visit to the Chateau of Chenonceaux. With its elegant arches spanning the river Cher, Chenonceaux is for many the most visually appealing of all chateaux along the Loire valley.


Day 7 – Saturday 28th Feb Depart the Loire Valley this morning and continue journey north to Normandy, a region of patchwork fields, lush rolling pastures, dairy cattle and apple orchards. Visit Graindorge cheese factory in Livarot maker of some of the best known cheese brands of this region including Camembert, Livarot and Pont L’Eveque. Lunch included today. Arrive in Caen mid-afternoon with the rest of the day free for independent sightseeing and shopping. O/N CAEN (BLD)

Day 8 – Sunday 1st March This morning there will be an opportunity to visit St Pierre Farmer’s Market in Caen with over 400 stalls to browse. Afterwards depart for an excursion to Mont Saint Michel, the great monastery island-fortress that seems to rise out of the sea from the vast Bay of Mont St Michel. This is one of the most famous sights of all France. We tour the little town and visit the medieval Abbey, built atop the rocky hillside.


Day 9 – Monday 2nd March Depart Caen for a visit to a farm growing apples for the production of cider and calvados including an opportunity for tasting.

Continue to Rouen, the city infamous for being where Joan of Arc was burnt on the cross in 1431. Although badly bombed during the war, the city has been carefully restored and is one of the most attractive cities of northern France, featuring a magnificent medieval cathedral.

On arrival there will be free time for lunch and an opportunity for some independent sightseeing and shopping. Depart this afternoon for Paris.

There will be a farewell dinner cruise tonight on the Bateaux Mouches. With most of the major monuments illuminated at night, cruising along the Seine in a glass topped boat is a great way to enjoy Paris in its most romantic setting. FYI – This will be a highlight of the trip, creating memories you will never forget. O/N PARIS (BD)

Day 10 – Tuesday 3rd March Depart for airport to return to Boston

Tour Includes:

Round trip air from Boston to Paris

8 hotel nights based on sharing twin room (3/4*)

8 breakfasts 7 dinners and 3 lunches (As indicated by BLD on the itinerary)

Coach services for duration of tour as specified on itinerary

Guided sightseeing of: Paris, Mont Saint Michel

Entrances to: Chenonceau, Mont Saint Michel

All farm and technical visits

Guided tour of Rungis market (including breakfast)

Wine tasting (Cote d’Or) & Calvados tasting (Normandy)

Services of Stita tour manager

Tips and gratuities for included services

Baggage handling in hotels, 1 piece per person

Not Included:

Transportation to Logan Airport – Suggest Concord Trailways from Portland

Gratuities for driver, escort and local guides

Any other meals not listed in itinerary and any personal expenses.

Prices Per Person:

Double Occupancy $3215.00 = $550.00 Single Supplement


TO MAKE RESERVATIONS: A deposit of $500.00 per person is due with Reservation Form by July 15. The balance will be due no later than November 17, 2008. We will contact you prior to that date to reconfirm the final payment in the event there is an increase due to a fuel surcharge by the airline.


We reserve the right to cancel if minimum passengers (25) are not booked, or to assess a surcharge with the group’s approval. If our agency cancels the trip, your deposit is fully refundable. If you cancel after deposit and prior to final payment, $100.00 pp is non refundable. No refund after final payment. Therefore, we strongly urge you to purchase cancellation insurance for your protection. Please check if you want insurance on the reservation form and a form will be forwarded to you.


Dube Carlson Wagonlit Travel is acting only as an agent for the passenger and therefore accepts no responsibility for any delayed departures or arrivals, missed connections, loss or damage, or injury to person or property. Dube Travel and STITA Tours reserve the right to change the itinerary and substitute arrangements of any equal value, if in their opinion circumstances warrant change.

SPACE IS LIMITED – Send your Reservation and Deposit Soon!