The big “Cheese” at Bra is coming”…let the countdown begin

With the bi-annual “Cheese” festival in Bra, Italy fast approaching I went to visit one of my favourite cheese producers DeGust in Bressanone to see what they have in store for this year’s festival.

The eighth edition of “Cheese” takes place from the 16th to the 19th September at Bra, Piedmont and is once again presented by the City of Bra and Slow Food. With exhibitors coming from far and wide “Cheese” is truly a celebration of global expertise and unites producers from Italy with those from the rest of the world including the greats of Europe; France, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Holland and the UK, as well as producers from North America. The focus of this year’s event is France, a country that has long been at the helm of cheese production, and so expect to see many producers flying the flag and promoting the techniques honed by the French .

In total around 200 exhibitors will be setting up stalls in the streets and squares of Bra, offering their products for tasting and purchase. The festival is free entry  and a shuttle service will ferry visitors from the car parks to the historic town centre. In the Great Hall of Cheese, visitors can sample 150 cheeses from around the world, while choosing from 700 different wines. For bookable events like Taste Workshops, visit http://www.slowfood.it/cheese and choose your language from the options in the top right.

Having met the team from DeGust two years ago I’ve remained a fan of their cheeses so much so that I was curious to visit their store in Bressanone where they both produce and sell their cheeses. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Giorgio, a cheese artist currently training with DeGust, on a number of occasions and it was on his advice that I finally made the trip on my recent visit to Alto Adige and I was not to be disapppointed! The walk in cheese cabinet dominates the store and from the instant you set foot in the wonder that is the DeGust showroom you will feel compelled to do nothing else but eat cheese.

Owned and managed by the Baumgartner family, DeGust was launched in 1995 and is now recognised as one of the leaders in the cheese industry producing a range of quality artisan cheeses. Sourcing their milk from the local South Tyrol farmers, DeGust is passionate about the quality of their products and strives to use technology hand in hand with nature to guarantee the best tasting and most natural products possible. They use the origin of each pasture and each cow herd to create a unique cheese with a unique flavour thereby ensuring that the flavour and source of the milk has a direct influence on the final product.

What better way to test this philosophy then by tasting. As a lover of blue cheeses I was immediately drawn to two of DeGusts signature cheeses; CaRuBlù a blue with cacao and rum and Golden Gel ®  a blue matured with red grapes. In addition I also chose a creamy goats cheese Ziegenmünster which is akin to a Camembert but dare I say it even more smelly! And finally a couple of harder cheeses to balance out my cheese board.

The CaRuBlù is described as having a toasted leather flavour complimented by the chocolate crust and I instantly fell in love with its strong notes. I broke all the rules by tasting this first despite being told to leave the blues till last but such was the pull I couldn’t resist! The Golden Gel ® by contrast had a stronger and more bitter aftertaste due to the grapes giving it both a sweet and sour sensation as it melts in the mouth. The Ziegenmünster which comes from the Wilhelm dairy was however the resounding favourite with its pungent aroma and gooey interior. From the moment I unleashed it from its wrapper wafts of cheese compelled me to taste it and once I started it was hard to stop!

I do not know which cheeses DeGust plan to show at this year’s “Cheese” festival but I can guarantee a taste experience unlike no other. Whether you are a fan of subtle creamy cheeses or, like me, stronger more dominating flavours DeGust has it all and you can find them at stand B72.

Let the tasting begin!

Degust Kg/S.a.s. di Baumgartner Johann & Co.
Via Isarco 1, 39040, Bolzano (BZ), Trentino Alto Adige, Italia
tel: 0472 849873 | email: info@degust.com
Piazza Carlo Alberto – B72

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I am also proud to see that we have a number of exhibitors coming from the UK as I am a great fan of our British Cheddar, Red Leicester, Double Gloucester, Cheshire, Stilton and Wensleydale to name but a few. I find myself constantly asked by Italians what food and traditions come from the UK and good cheese is always high on my list.

Leading the British interests are;

Cornish Cheese Company Ltd Cheeswring Dairy Knowle Farm – UK Trade & Investment
Upton Crose, PL1458G, Liskeard , UK
tel: +353 (0)1579 362416 | email: enquiries@cornishcheese.co.uk
Piazza Roma – B171

Neal’s Yard Dairy – UK Trade & Investment
108 Druid Street, SEI2HH, London, UK
tel: +44 20 75007520 | email: jason@nealsyarddairy.co.uk
Piazza Roma – B159-B160-B161-B162

Pub Inglese – UK Trade & Investment
Europa Building, 450 Argyle Street, G2 8LH, Glasgow, UK
tel: 02 72300232 | email: valeria.notari@fco.gov.uk
Piazza Roma – B165 B166 B167 B168

The Fine Cheese Co. Ltd – UK Trade & Investment
29 & 31 Walcot Street, BA1 5BN, Bath, UK
Formaggio | tel: +44 1225 448748 | email: gabi@finecheese.co.uk
web: www.finecheese.co.uk
Piazza Roma – B169 B170

The Wensleydale Creamery – UK Trade & Investment
Wensleydale, DL8 3RN, Hawes, UK
tel: +44 01969 667664 | email: david.hartley@wensleydale.co.uk
Piazza Roma – B172

You can check out the full list of this year’s exhibitors by clicking on the link below to Slow Food:

http://cheese.slowfood.it/pagine/ita/espositori/espositori_cheese.lasso?-session=ch2011:5D21EF5E144a724E3Crqr395A70A

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