According to event organizer and beer industry alum Lisa Miyashita, it’s a coincidence that the first year of her local cheese festival was the Seattle Cheese Festival’s last. But ask a local cheesemaker, and they’ll say it’s no accident: the previous festival, hosted by DeLaurenti in Pike Place Market, had become so crowded that small local producers who couldn’t afford to give away tens of thousands of samples knew to steer clear. Miyashita’s festival, now in its third year, has gained a reputation as a thinking person’s cheese festival—where attendees gather not just for samples, but for the chance to learn about and support the state’s burgeoning dairy industry.
Here are three ways you can partake in the dairy-thon.
Washington Artisan Cheesemakers Festival
September 27, 1–5pm
More than one-third of the state’s 60 artisan cheesemakers will bring their wares to the Seattle Design Center for this year’s festival. Around 80 cow, goat, and sheep cheeses and butters will be available for sampling alongside beers from Diamond Knot, Iron Horse, and Sound Brewery, wines from Diversion and Lobo Hills Winery, and a lineup of accompaniments from local purveyors like Boat Street Pickles and Simple and Crisp. Unlike the Seattle Cheese Festival, these cheeses come mostly from small in-state farms, and it shows: Vashon-based Kurtwood Farms’ Dinah’s Cheese tastes like the inside of the farm’s Douglas fir barn (in a good way), and the husband-and-wife team behind Bellingham’s Ring of Trees Farm claim to know all their sheep by name. Washington cheese maps will be available at the event, with information about each farm’s milk type, organic certification status, and a purchasing guide. Each $35 ticket is good for all cheese samples and three drink tokens.
Washington Artisan Cheese Seminar
September 27, 2–3pm
Cheesemonger Sheri LaVigne of the Calf and Kid in Melrose Market will lead an hourlong guided tasting and seminar about the animals and environment—and the people—behind some of Washington’s best cheeses. The 21-and-over seminar will also include local beer and wine pairings. Tickets are $40, or $35 if purchased with a festival ticket.
Stinkin’ Cheese Dinner at Trattoria Cuoco
September 23, 6:30pm
Tom Douglas’s South Lake Union fresh pasta restaurant is putting on a three-course dinner showcasing some of the Washington cheeses that will be available at the festival. The dinner will open with Gothberg Farms Chevre and roasted baby beets, and end with—what else?—a cheese course and wine pairings. The full menu and tickets for the $75 dinner are available online.