At the end of my cheese tasting post, I hinted at big news to come, and now it arrived: The reason I had the tasting party was to figure out which cheese to perfect … to enter it at the Fair!
During my cheese class, the instructor mentioned this cheese competition. I thought she was insane, but the seed was planted.
The competition was last Friday. Father’s day weekend was the cheese preparation. It did not go as smoothly as I’d hoped. When I flipped the cheese, a piece of one edge stuck to the mat and tore. I was disappointed, but it wasn’t bad enough for me to start over. But after it was finished, there was a fridge incident. I thought I had the cheese resting on a flat surface. It was not. It creased my cheese!
That was not going to work. I had a choice: Make another cheese that won’t age quite as much as I would like or don’t enter the fair at all. So I made another cheese.
This one also had a slight tear along the top.
None of my other test cheeses had done that, and now it was happening to both my competition cheeses. I think Murphy (or Sod, depending on your country of origin) played a role.
I finished it up, the cheese felt right, and all was well.
The entry form talked about the judging criteria of presentation and mentioned that garnishes can be used. I was stumped. Making things look pretty isn’t something I spend effort on, so I emailed the cheese instructor and owner of Curds and Wine. Within a half hour, she wrote me back! She told me the back history and controversy associated with the presentation scores – in her view (which I share), it is a cheese competition, not a pretty plate competition. But I wanted to score the best I could, so I bought a pretty disposable plate (disposable was required) and used her suggestion of a doily for a garnish.
Here was my fair entry.
Ms. M joined me on my big adventure. We met so many nice people that day. Some retired teachers gave Ms. M their extra ticket on the bus ride over from the parking lot, and I met another first time entrant as I turned in my cheese at the booth.
We had some time before the judging, and we were hungry, so we went out to the food stalls. We found a healthy place with vegan options … at the Fair. We were in shock.
We had a chance to visit the woodworking exhibit before going back to see the cheese competition. Ms. M found an award-winning entry from her best friend from high school!
We arrived back at the cheese competition during the judging. I was able to see the number of cheeses in each category. Soft cheeses don’t require the special cheese fridge and are easier to make, so there were around 20 entries – by far the largest number. Some categories, like bleu cheese and feta, only had four entries each.
Long story short, I didn’t take home a ribbon. It was never about that, though. What an Adventure Girl activity it was to put myself out there and try something new like this!
I had a glorious day, I’m mastering a new skill, and I love all the support I’ve received. I’m already starting to figure out what categories I should enter next year!
On our way out of the Fair (after petting the livestock), Ms. M spotted the outside of a house of horror that was too good to pass up.
This picture had to be taken! What a perfect end to a perfect day.
Has anyone ever entered a contest at the Fair? or What was your last activity that pushed your comfort zone?