Connecticut Cheese & Wine Festival at Hopkins Vineyard Offers a Taste of Local Flavors
The first annual CT Cheese & Wine Festival is being held today from 11-5 at Hopkins Vineyard in New Preston. The event is co-hosted by Hopkins Vineyard and Artisan Food Store of Southbury and is a family-friendly celebration of artisanal food products including award-winning cheeses and wines from CT.
Come for a Taste of Local Flavors
Guests can taste artisan farmstead cheeses from Beltane Farm, Cato Corner Farm, Ladies of Levita Road Farm, and Woodbridge Farm and meet the farmers and cheese makers. Artisan farmstead cheese is made in small batches, by hand, and each cheese reflects the style and skill of the cheese maker. Farmstead cheeses are unique in that they are made exclusively from the milk from the farm.
Connecticut cheese are very high quality and are made in a wide range of styles. Goat’s milk cheeses from Beltane Farm and raw cow’s milk cheeses from Cato Corner Farm illustrate just how diverse Connecticut’s cheeses are.
Beltane Farm’s award-winning creamy and mild fresh goat’s milk cheese (chevre) is pasteurized and comes plain or rolled in a variety of fresh and dry herbs. It’s wonderful just spread on a cracker or artisan bread, but add some local artisan honey, some seasonal fruit, and sparkling wine from Hopkins Vineyard, and you’ve created a beautiful and festive beginning or ending course to a meal fit for a special occasion or the holidays.
Today at the festival, guests can learn firsthand from Certified Sommelier Sally Camm of Artisan Food Store of Southbury how to pair wine and cheese. Plus award winning chef Arik Bensimon of Napa & Co. in Stamford and chef Dan Kardos of Harvest Supper in New Canaan will be teaching guests how to prepare appetizers using the artisan foods available for sampling and sale at the event.
Beltane Farm also makes a Danse de la Lune (moon dance), a French style, soft-ripened goat’s milk cheese that’s hand-shaped to resemble a moon. It’s dense and creamy with complex flavors and pairs well with fine wines.
Mark Gilman, the cheese maker from Cato Corner Farm, crafts unique, world class raw cow’s milk cheeses on his family-owned farm in Colchester. Saveur Magazine and Slow Food USA named their Hooligan a top American cheese and it won a gold medal from Gallo Family Vineyard. These are true artisan farmstead cheeses, made by hand from raw milk from their cows that are pasture-raised without growth hormones, sub-therapeutic antibiotics, or animal-based feeds. Raw milk cheeses must be aged for a minimum of two months by law and some are aged many more, all the while being cared for in their underground cave until they reach peak flavor.
Hooligan is Cato Corner Farm’s signature “stinky” cheese. This ripe washed-rind cheese has a soft creamy interior and is delicious at room temperature or melted in a sandwich. Try pairing this cheese with Tulip Polar honey from Red Bee Honey.
Bridgid’s Abbey is Cato Corner Farm’s best selling cheese, probably because its rich and buttery taste plus smooth and creamy consistency appeal to just about every palate. This is a versatile cheese that can be enjoyed any time of day. Try Bridgid’s Abbey as a snack or appetizer paired with raspberry or blueberry honey form Red Bee Honey, in a sandwich, or melted over your favorite vegetable.
These cheeses and artisan foods can be purchased at the event, ordered from Artisan Made’s online store or purchased at their Artisan Food Store in Southbury. They are also available at farmers’ markets, fine cheese shops like Fairfield Cheese Company in Fairfield and Caseus in New Haven. Fine boutique wines from Hopkins Vineyard, Jones Winery and Walker Road Vineyard have won local, regional and national wine awards and are delicious paired with the cheeses or enjoyed with a meal. These wines can be purchased at the event, directly from the vineyards, and at fine wine stores.
The Connecticut Cheese & Wine Festival 2010 is co-hosted by Hopkins Vineyard and Artisan Food Store of Southbury, CT and tickets are $10. This event is one day only – Saturday October 16, 2010 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Hopkins Vineyard, 25 Hopkins Rd in New Preston, CT. Bring the whole family to sample over 60 different cheeses, local wines, plus specialty foods including jams, honeys, maple syrups and baked goods. Bring the kids to not only enjoy the food, but also face painting, hay rides and live music. Please call Artisan Food Store at 203-262-9390 for more information.