Cheeses from all over the world attracted large crowds to Pike Place Market during the weekend. Pike Place was closed to traffic and was filled with vendors offering exotic cheeses.
The regulars were at the Pike Place Market last Saturday: fish throwers, street performers and fresh food customers. Apart from business as usual, however, there were enough people to warrant the presence of multiple cars at the market. The occasion was the fourth annual Seattle Cheese Festival.
The festival started with a truckle (a barrel-shaped type of cheese) roll relay, expanded from past years, where an 18-pound, round cheese is raced from Rachel the Pig up and around Pine Street.
A dozen adults and children paraded down the street wearing polyester caps with Holstein horns — also a first for the event.
However, the real focus was on the food.
Plenty of cow’s milk-based items graced uniform blue tablecloths up and down the cobblestone road. Goat cheese was rather standard fare, too. What surprised some was the multitude of foods here made from sheep’s milk.
A featured item was Dutch Vintage Gouda. With just five ingredients, the makeup is simple, but somehow the taste is complex: crunchy, nutty and easy at the same time.
Stinky, soft spreads on spoons like bleu d’Auvergne and fourme d’Ambert sat on tables.
Mt. Townsend Creamery served special blends with rustic names like Trailhead, Cirrus and Seastack.
Willamette Valley Cheese Company brought organics and River Valley Cheese served yak and buffalo cheese. Fond O’ Foods imported its products from Germany, and Marin French Cheese boasted the title of the oldest continually operating cheese producer in the United States.
“I love the Dubliner cheese from Ireland,” said attendee Holly McRoberts. “[It’s] very creamy, very rich.”
At the Ritrovo Italian Regional Foods booth, Bill Erickson helped put slices of French bread in baskets.
“It’s good, small production, hard to find,” he said, then corrected himself, noting that the products can be found at specialty markets like DeLaurenti Specialty Food and Wine.
DeLaurenti was the main sponsor for the event. Besides selling cheese sampler boxes at $10 each, the company put on mozzarella and burrata-making demos, held a beer and wine garden at five tastes for $10, and presented cheese related recipes at various Seattle locations throughout the weekend.
“Everything just gets bigger and more organized every year,” said Matt Snyder, one of the owners of the DeLaurenti Café. He expressed plans to continue attending and supporting the event in the future.
In addition to the dairy products, on every surface were seedy breads and the non-alcoholic wine substitute Dry Soda flavored with lavender, lemongrass, kumquat and rhubarb with cane sugar to cleanse the palate.
The diverse selection of tastes, smells and textures delighted the senses and offered a break in the usual happenings at Seattle’s Pike Place Market.
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