It is high time I wrote about the Quart Cheese Festival! It is always the same day every year, August 14, conveniently timed to be the day before day of national holiday, so that all participants can recover from their overdose of cheese and indulgence of wine.
It is in the Alpine village of Quart (pronouced ‘Carr’ by the locals’, way up on the mountian, on the trounds of an ancient castle. Unfortunately, this year it was raining cats and dogs- or shall I say Fontina and Moscato- which led us to be wet and cold, but still very enthusiastic. I managed to convince my cheese-hating husband along, but don’t be too concerned for him, as there was plenty of local wine for him to drink!
Upon entering the castle gate, we got to buy our tickets. A ticket is approximately a euro each, and a glass of wine costs two tickets, and a cheese tasting one. I got the 9 ticket package, which included the COOLEST ‘necklace’ ever.
As you can see, it isn’t just for looking stylish. It consists of a cheese board, a wine glass that has a base that slides into the board, and a nice cheese knife, which also fits into the wooden board. It is finished off with a lovely cord through the end of the cheese board to easily fasciliate wine and cheese tasting. It is simply brilliant, I tell you!
Now, I was expecting a glass of wine to be the normal amount, which is to say, not so much. But, no no no no no. They fill up that sucker. And, I expected the cheese tasting to be just that… a taste of cheese. But again, no way. You get a monster hunk of farmsted, artisan cheese with equally big hunks of of homemade brown bread. Alternatively, if you don’t like your cheese solo or with it’s best friend, bread, you can get something made with cheese like patate fondute (potatoes with a fontina cheese sauce).
I thought 9 tickets wouldn’t be enough, and that I could taste every cheese there. However, I was quite mistaken, as there is a limted amount of cheese that even the biggest cheese head can inject before feeling a bit cheesy around the edges. I tasted a nice variety of local cheeses and wines, wandered around the inside and outside of the castle, got to learn about how polenta is made (and meet the cows!), and had a lovely time! I highly recommend this event to anyone who happens to pass in or near Aosta on August 14 of any given year.
Oh dear, I almost forgot about the French Cheese Monks. Ok, not strictly Italian Alpine, but still relatively nearby and peculiar. They are French monks who make DEVINE brie cheese (I bought a round and brought it home), and wear the best cheese hats I have ever seen.