Rain and bad weather could not keep cheese lovers away. One hundred thousand people made their way to Bra, Italy for Cheese 2005. This biennial event is organized by Slow Food and the City of Bra. It is the leading international meeting for small cheese producers and aims to promote consumer awareness of artisan dairy products. Everything from cheese preserved in goat skin to yak cheese was featured this year.
The event featured cheese tastings (usually accompanied by wine), education and shopping. About 12,000 people went to the Great Hall of Cheese and tasted 157 cheeses washed down with 30,000 glasses of wine. Approximately 1,000 different wines were available at this year’s event.
This year goat cheese was the featured item and a special area was set up to showcase goat cheese products from all over the world. The House of Goat Cheese had 105 products from 20 countries that were sampled by 5,200 people.
Representatives from Armenia spoke about the goat cheese they produce that is matured in clay and preserved for winter. A journalist from Beirut impressed the audience with Darfiyeh, a raw goat’s milk cheese preserved with layers of ricotta in a goat skin, washed, sewn and salted on the inside.
With the help of a number of foundations, non-profit organizations and two young Italian cheese makers, a dairy built at a school for nomad children in Tibet now produces Yak cheese.
A new Slow Food Presidium has been set up to protect Fiore Sardo, a cheese that has been produced since before the Roman conquest of Sardinia. In Sardinia, about thirty breeders still use artisan methods to produce small quantities of the cheese mainly from the milk of native Sardinian sheep.
Be on the lookout for other events hosted by the Slow Food organization in your local community or in cities you plan to visit.