Tanglewood Food & Wine Classic Recap

Dear Tanglewood Food & Wine Classic,
Thanks for the wonderful memories!

I had skirted around the Berkshires of western Massachusetts before, and I have probably flown over them a number of times, but this was my first real immersion into the area. It is easy to see why many people make the annual pilgrimage from many miles away. The region reminds me of the Ozarks: similar topography and roads, surprisingly similar vegetation and houses. The residents were welcoming, with many of them volunteering to make the Classic a success.


We arrived in Lenox a little too early for check-in so we spent most of the midday using the Cranwell Resort’s spa facilities; it was easy to see why our townhouse was not vacated early: one would want to prolong a stay as long as possible.
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Cheeses of Massachusetts

Massachusetts has a long tradition of cheesemaking; nearly four hundred years of it, so they should have it down by now. The first Massachusetts cheese I recall tasting was Hubbardston Farm’s Classic Blue, an external blue mold goat cheese, invented by Lettie Kilmoyer. The next Massachusetts cheese I remember tasting was Great Hill Blue. That was about it, both of them excellent, but whatever else was being crafted there had to compete with another state to make its way into New York City. Cheese has been produced in Massachusetts for all this time but it is often overlooked because of what has been happening in Vermont.

My good friend and former colleague, Sarah Jennings, returned to Massachusetts after working with us in New York, and now she is on the advisory board of the Massachusetts Cheese Guild. When I was asked to present cheese at this weekend’s Tanglewood Wine & Food Classic I went to Sarah for some direction. Sure, I could find many other old and new favorites, from neighboring states or farther away, but I thought this would be a great opportunity to try some of the “local” cheeses, ones I may not have had before.

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ACS Wrap Up

The 31st American Cheese Society conference has come to an end. If these annual meetings could last a few days longer it might be easier to take part in all the highlights–and spend more time with friends you only get to see once a year. But if the amount of work going in to executing the conference is taken into consideration, a shorter version might make more sense.

American Cheese Society Logo
American Cheese Society

Each year’s conference seems to get better than the last; this places pressure on future conference organizers. How they manage to cram all the various highlights into a tight 72-hour agenda must be the greatest challenge. Before the keynote address gets the ball rolling the organizing committee has to set aside a day to administer the Certified Cheese Professional exam. If it took place during the formal conference the candidates would miss important meetings, sessions and other opportunities. This adds a day to the agenda: the afternoon before the start of the conference for the exam itself, and preparing for it the full morning before: allowing time to set up the registration area, giving the proctors their assignments and instructions, and outfitting the exam room with electrical outlets, microphone and monitors, as well as loading the exam software into the rental laptops.
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