ACS 2011 — Day 1

Click here to view Caitlin Hunter’s album of her first day at the conference experiences.

Our day began with an early morning walk down Rue Bleury to get to the Palais by 7am so that Kevin could get tickets for Thursday’s limited seating tasting events, and I could get some coffee. CHECK. We were a bit early to be seated for breakfast in the auditorium, but they were already serving croissant, eggs, fried meat, and potato squares in the hallway outside, so we helped ourselves. We were joined by a cheery salesman from the outfit that imports Coombes Cheddar from England here for his first ACS conference from his base in Chicago. I mentioned that Alison and I had visited Salisbury, England recently and his face lit up: “That’s very near where I grew up!” Just by chance, in my notebook, I still had a few labels of the meat pies we bought at the Salisbury farmers market when we were visiting: Bridport Gourmet Pies (Dorset Fidget, and Pork & Blue Vinney Pie) and he did a double-take: “My goodness, these are from my hometown!” So, you never know what you’ll run into at an ACS convention, as long as you keep introducing yourself.

Once we headed into the auditorium we were spotted by a part of the Maine crew, and we joined their table. We discovered that the tables added a selection of cheeses from that morning’s sponsor (the Vermont Dairy Council) to breakfast, so I happily sampled through that, though I remembered I had to be careful and pace myself. Unfortunately, Caitlin had not had the same thought — “I’m already cheesed out!” she said to Brad at one point as she contemplated another dab of the Winnemere.

Continue reading

ACS 2011 — Arrival

Click here to view Caitin Hunter’s photo album of her trip to the Abbey cheeses of Quebec.


Made good time to Montreal — 6.75 hours including a half-hour stop for lunch — and checked-in to my and Kevin’s Craig’s List apt rental. Good price, includes parking, but bare bones. As Kevin points out, “we’re going to spend about seven or eight hours here a day, max. What more do we need?”

Excellent attitude.

ER and KB enjoy lunch by the highway.

ER and KB enjoy lunch by the highway.

We walked the seven blocks downhill (therefore *uphill home*) to the Palais du Congress convention hall to register for the conference, and then split up so that Kevin could attend the reception for first-time attendees.
Continue reading

ACS 2011 — The Journey Begins


I packed up my competition entries and shipped them off last week. CHECK. I’ve confirmed my lodging in Montreal. CHECK. I’ve moved my cows from the lower pasture to the upper pasture where they should have more than enough to much on until I get back. CHECK. I’ve Googled to find the best poutine in Montreal. CHECK.

I still need to pack and gas up the car. Otherwise I think I’m ready to go. Tomorrow I pick up Kevin Burnsteel (cheesemaker at Pineland Farms Creamery) in Augusta and we will be on our way to the American Cheese Society conference in Montreal, which actually began today (Tuesday) when all the competition entries will be judged (though ribbons will not be publicly awarded until the ceremonies Friday night). Other activities begin Wednesday with a series of guided tours of Montreal and Canadian cheese highlights. Kevin and I won’t arrive until those tours have completed, but we plan to be there for the opening keynote on Thursday morning, after which it will be three days of non-stop cheese talk culminating in the Festival of Cheese on Saturday night when we all have a chance to try all 1300+ cheeses that were entered in the competition from all over North America, at which point most of us will actually be cheesed-out.

I will be doing my best (depending on the connectivity I find with my laptop and mobile phone) to update those of you who weren’t able to attend the conference here on the Guild web site, as well as on the new Guild Twitter feed: @MECheeseGuild, which will be the first place we announce any Maine ribbon winners at the competition awards on Friday night. Good luck to all who entered!