On April 29, hundreds of foodies filled Seattle’s McCaw Hall for the Emerald City’s inaugural Cheese and Meat Festival. Celebrating local cheese and charcuterie, two afternoon tasting sessions offered unlimited samples of some of the best Washington cheese, meats and accompaniments. All attendees were handled their own mini charcuterie board and encouraged to build their own tasting experience.
How does one build the perfect cheese and meat pairing? According to the festival’s handouts, it begins with pairing contrasting flavors. A smokey cheddar cheese would go well with an unsmoked meat such as prosciutto, while a soft creamy cheese like brie would go well with an acidic dry-cured salami. In addition to flavor, also consider visual colors. Meat and cheese typically don’t have the most vibrant colors, so add accompaniments such as olives, dried fruits, or cornichons. Finally, top off your meat and cheese pairing with a beverage. Since meat and cheese are very rich and bold, choose a drink with high acidity such as a tart cider, crisp lager, or red wine to cleanse the palate.
In terms of cheese, some standouts were definitely the garlic thai chevre from The Farmstead Creamery, fior di latte from Ferndale Farmstead, and an incredible Whatcom blue cheese from Twin Sisters Creamery. Meat-wise, Uli’s Famous Sausage had a flavorful dry cured sausage made of cheese and fruit, and Friday Harbor House of Jerky peddled a unique Cajun blend alligator jerky. Local beer brewers and wineries were also on hand as a means of showcasing various cheese, meat, and drink pairings. As an added bonus, the festival also partnered with Food Lifeline so that proceeds from ticket sales went toward a good cause.
The Cheese and Meat Festival also takes place in nearby Victoria and Vancouver, B.C. where local Canadian cheeses and meats can be sampled.
Suzi Pratt is an internationally published Seattle event and food photographer. Her photos appear regularly in Eater and Getty Images. She is also a prolific blogger who teaches others how to start a photography business.