Gooey melted cheese elevates a croque-monsieur sandwich. American Meltdown will be grilling cheese sandwiches in its food truck Sunday at the Much Ado About Cheese festival. Michael Tercha TNS
Gooey melted cheese elevates a croque-monsieur sandwich. American Meltdown will be grilling cheese sandwiches in its food truck Sunday at the Much Ado About Cheese festival. Michael Tercha TNS

Durham County

Sweet baby cheeses! It’s gonna be a ‘Gouda’ festival Sunday in Durham

By Tammy Grubb

tgrubb@heraldsun.com

November 10, 2017 11:57 AM

DURHAM

Cheese, glorious cheese, so scrumptious and luscious – and it’s coming by the pounds to Foster Street on Sunday, Nov. 12.

The biggest cheese party in town will bring American Meltdown food truck and restaurant, The Rickhouse and Mason Inc. Events together with a collection of Triangle area cheese producers.

Much Ado About Cheese, the state’s annual cheese festival, will feature Elodie Farms, Paradox Farm, Calico Farmstead, Scratch Bakery and others, including Boxcarr Farms, Goat Lady Dairy and Prodigal Farm – all winners of the American Cheese Society’s annual competition.

American Meltdown’s foodtruck also will be there preparing gourmet grilled cheeses on demand and offering free samples.

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“At the beginning of the day, Much Ado About Cheese is a party celebrating all good things about cheese; in the end, it’s a community event with the perks of what the region’s dairies bring to our tables every day,” organizers said. “Come meet them, chat with them about their passions and take home some of the most fresh and best-tasting cheeses, breads and wines available in our neighborhood.”

The festival runs from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at The Rickhouse, 609 Foster St. in Durham. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.

The American Cheese Society, with more than 1,700 members nationwide, notes the art of cheesemaking is a way for farmers “to protect their livelihood, support local economies, add diversity to the nation’s diet, and preserve long-standing methods and traditions.”

Cheese led the specialty food sales market in 2015 with more than $4 billion spent on local artisan, farmstead and specialty cheeses – a 15 percent increase from 2013, the ACS reported last year. Roughly 21 percent of the nation’s local cheesemakers live in the South and 58 percent produce less than 20,000 pounds of cheese a year, the report shows. Southern cheesemakers have been in business for an average of 13 years.

Roughly 66 percent of American cheesemakers are dairy farmers, many raising their cows and goats using organic, GMO-free and hormone-free practices. Roughly 92 percent of locally produced cheese is sold in the United States directly to retailers, restaurants and customers.

The ACS includes 24 North Carolina cheesemakers among its nearly 900 certified cheese-making professionals nationwide.

And if that isn’t enough to inspire your passion for cheese, consider these 2016 studies that found cheese may improve your cardiovascular health.

Early evidence uncovered in the first study, released last year by Penn State University, indicates that milk proteins and dairy fat increase blood flow in the body and improve blood pressure. The researchers, who were funded by Dairy Management Inc., theorized that dairy also canceled out high sodium levels in cheese.

A separate, Italian study found that eating aged cheeses, such as Parmesan, can help people live longer and lower their risk of heart failure. The study focused on a common dietary compound called spermidine that’s found in many foods, including legumes and whole grains.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

If you go

The annual Much Ado About Cheese festival will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12, at The Rickhouse, 609 Foster St. in Durham. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. More information online at bit.ly/2hkFCZI.