Local cheesemakers honored at 2016 N.C. State Fair competition

THE BIG CHEESE: Marion-based English Farmstead Cheese (pictured) was one of two Western North Carolina cheesemakers to win awards at the N.C. State Fair's 2016 cheese competition.
THE BIG CHEESE: Marion-based English Farmstead Cheese (pictured) was one of two Western North Carolina cheesemakers to win awards at the N.C. State Fair's 2016 cheese competition. Photo by Tim Robison

The 2016 N.C. State Fair recently announced results from the annual cheese competition that took place Oct. 7 in Raleigh. Among the honorees were cheeses from two Western North Carolina creameries — Looking Glass Creamery of Fairview and English Farmstead Cheese of Marion.

Judges rated a total of 47 cheeses from eight creameries based on technical and aesthetic merits using the American Cheese Society’s point system. The scoring process deducts from a 100-point scale based on defects in qualities including aroma, flavor, texture and body, appearance and rind development. Entries receiving 93-100 points received first-place awards; scores of 86-92 points were awarded second place and 80-85 points earned third place. 

Looking Glass Creamery, now in its eighth year of operation, earned first-place ribbons for its Ellington semisoft goat’s milk cheese and its Drovers Road cheddar.  The creamery earned a second-place ribbon for its raw-milk, Alpine-style hard cheese, Bear Wallow. The awards put another feather in the cap of a growing company that has already garnered other awards, as well as national distribution with Williams-Sonoma. 

English Farmstead Cheese produces its small-batch cheeses from its Marion-based family farm that was founded in 1927. The creamery earned first placed ribbons for its Linville hard cheese and its soft and spreadable Fromage Blanc. It received second-place ribbons for its Ashford Cheddar, semisoft Buttercup cheese and flavored hard cheese, Rhododendron.

All cheeses from the contest are on display in the Education Building at the N.C. State Fair in Raleigh through Sunday, Oct. 23.  Many of the cheeses are also available for sampling and sale at the Got to Be NC Dairy Products tent between the Waterfall and the Jim Graham buildings at the fair.  

Looking Glass Creamery is open to visitors 1-5 p.m. Thursdays and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The creamery’s products are also available through its online shopEnglish Farmstead Cheese products are available at the farm store, which is open on Fridays and Saturdays. Visitors are encouraged to arrive early in the day for the best selection as demand is high.

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About Nick Wilson
Nick Wilson is a native of the Midwest who moved to Asheville in September of 2016 after eight years in Los Angeles. When he's not writing for Mountain Xpress, his energies are focused on better understanding himself and the rich wealth of history that the world has to offer.

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