The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the nation’s largest indoor agricultural event, featuring 12,000 competitive exhibits. This year was a ribbon winning year for Revittle, Otterbein Acres, Clover Creek Cheese Cellar, Alpine Heritage Creamery, Yellow Springs Farm, and Little Antietam Goat Dairy with ten cheeses entered into the competition coming home with awards. This annual event showcases the quality and extent of Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry and the people who make it flourish. Aside from food and entertainment, the winter exposition offers the public an opportunity to get an up-close view of how our food goes from farm to fork, and learn about the diversity of Pennsylvania agriculture and the ingenuity of its people.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show cheese competition is open to Pennsylvanian producers, who may enter up to four cheeses to be judged on technical and aesthetic qualities in 20 categories. Cheeses are submitted in whole wheels or blocks, and judged on appearance and packaging; flavor and aroma; body and texture; and cheese-specific characteristics.
These categories are divided among three pairs of judges to allow the judging to run smoothly within one day. The technical judge begins with a maximum score of 65, and deducts points based on technical aspects of each cheese compared to an ideal cheese in the given category. The aesthetic judge begins at zero and adds points up to 35 based on the positive qualities of the cheese. These scores are then added together to create the final score of the cheese.
As guests visited the show they were given a tiny slice of Pennsylvania’s rich farming industry and as judges and visitors enjoyed a tiny slice of our registered cheeses the results came in loud and clear. You love us!
Otterbein Acres Shepherd’s Delight Tomme was a true Blue Ribbon Winner winning first in Class 13 - Cheese from Sheep Milk. A tomme type table cheese made from fresh, raw, whole sheep’s milk. Its seasoned appearance is due to the aging process, which ranges from 4 -12 months. The microflora in cave-aging creates the earthy rind. The “tomme-iness” or aroma is not unlike the cave it is aged in: Rustic, earthy, and loamy. The cheese is remarkable for its simplicity and essential place in the rhythms of everyday life. Its production recycles leftover milk and its flavor is satisfying and honest. Shepherd’s Delight Tomme is an exceptional, satisfying cheese, something to eat and enjoy on a daily basis.
Another award winning cheese was Otterbein Acres Shepherd’s Dream Romano. A romano type grateable cheese made from fresh, raw, whole sheep milk. The cheese is aged twenty months creating a smooth and delicious romano style becoming very sharp with age. Shepherd’s Dream works excellent as a table cheese. It can be grated over pasta, soups and salad or shaved onto cooked dishes and cream sauces. Hard cheeses, such as Shepherd’s Dream Romano, best pair with fruity wines like Riesling and Prosecco.
Also receiving high honors but in Class 19 - Mixed Milk - was Otterbein Acres Shepherd’s Alpine. Shepherd’s Alpine is a semi-aged cheese, which spills over with complex barnyard and toasted nut flavors. Made from a privately held recipe of sheep and goat milks, Shepherd’s Alpine is similar to a Beaufort with distinct sheep-goat character. Shepherd’s Alpine is aged for half a year. Never coated in a synthetic “paracoat” coating, never dipped in a hot polymer “wax” (Gouda), never cut off from oxygen by a vacuum bag, Shepherd’s Alpine moves from simple to complex while aging on wooden boards in a cool subterranean cheese cave.
Another Blue Ribbon Winner was Alpine Heritage Creamery Paradise Cheddar from Class 1 - Cheddar, Colby, and Monterey Jack from Cow Milk. Paradise Cheddar is an artisan cheese for those who prefer a bolder flavor. It is still a very smooth medium cheddar, but has a finish that bites back. Since the cheddar is aged more than 12 months, it is drier with a more crystalline texture. Alpine Heritage Creamery believes strongly in creating cheese the way nature intended, with organic happy cows and without heat treating the cheese. Paradise Cheddar is great with cured meats and as a sandwich cheese.
Receiving Best in Show - Clover Creek Cheese Cellar Royer Mountain Alpine was a popular favorite. Royer Mountain Alpine is a true alpine style cheese with flavors of parmesan and romano. This cellar-aged cheese is unique in that the aging process involves closely watching the temperature and turning the cheese weekly to produce a flavor that is full of zest and mountain breezes blowing through Clover Creek’s fresh green pastures. The aging process gives this cheese an Italian twist with a romano flavor.
Little Antietam Goat Dairy really had the ‘crème de la crème’ with their Little Antietam Fresh Chevre. This luscious, rich, and velvety chevre impressed the judges and the visitors with its exceptional flavor. This cheese is delicious by itself, in salads with fruits and nuts, chicken, or as a simple pairing to cleanse the tasting palate with white wines.
We are proud to deliver these award winning cheeses directly to your doorstep.
To learn more about Otterbein Acres read our blog post Introduction Otterbein Acres Farm.If you are interested in learning more about his cheese making process, check out our blog post For John Fisher, Making Cheese is a Journey not a Destination.