Monday, August 9, 2010

You should go cheese tasting.

I am not a cheese person, but because I am so into the local food thing, I thought it would be a good experience to visit a cheese and maple syrup farm while in Vermont. I read that Sugarbush Farm of Woodstock, VT did free tastings and educational tours, and more than anything, I just wanted to understand the difference between each grade of Maple Syrup...

I got much more than I bargained for-- as in, I tasted fourteen cheeses (I skipped the 15th-- a blue), plus all four grades of syrup. The tasting was free and amazingly informative. I am discovering more and more that I am a food nerd, fascinated by the details of cheese preservation and the science of creating maple syrup (seriously gallons of tree sap go into just the drizzle on your pancakes!).

Here is the deal on the grades of Maple Syrup:

Fancy -- very sweet, thin, with delicate maple flavor
Medium Amber -- smooth, maple flavor, acclaimed as "most popular"
Dark Amber -- like the medium, but more serious, a little heavier
Grade B -- intensely flavored of maple, most commonly used in cooking

If I can help it, I will never purchase anything other than pure maple syrup ever again. The taste and the authenticity of the real stuff is absolutely worth it.

And so, we tasted, we purchased, Gabe met some farm animals, and I am pleased to say I have a pint of Medium Amber pure maple syrup in our pantry for our pancakes and some Mountain Jack, Sage, Maple & Hickory Smoked, and Aged Cheddar cheeses in the fridge. Gabriel even tasted his first cheese today, a little sampling of Mountain Jack-- (the VT version of Monterey Jack) he gobbled it like wild.

I find myself reminded that even your most 'unfavorite' foods are delicious when they are fresh and locally prepared. I highly encourage you to look around your area and find local food treasures to explore. And if you go to VT, please stop in at Sugarbush and try their cheeses and syrup. As for me, I'll be looking for some NJ cheese that stands up to the batch we brought home from the Green Mountains.


  1. I love grade b. We use it all the time :) Sugarbush is great, right??? Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Catching up on your blog... loved this post. "I find myself reminded that even your most 'unfavorite' foods are delicious when they are fresh and locally prepared" -- so true! When I was in Ecuador, I remember eating tons of tilapia. Not my favorite fish by any stretch, but the way they prepared it, flame grilled and doused in local spices, it was superb. Hard to beat local, carefully crafted foods -- from simple ingredients like maple syrup or milk to complete dishes!