Review: The 2018 Great Northeast Cheese Fest at Flushing Town Hall

Cover image Lively Run Goat Dairy’s Cayuga blue cheese © Meg for WhereNYC

An impressive display of amazing cheeses greeted guests at the historical Flushing Town Hall. 24 booths of different cheesemakers from the Northeast showcased some amazing cheeses.

While American cheese was once the laughing stock of the global cheese industry, artisanal makers, particularly from the East Coast have put their own stamp on an old tradition.

Call Me Caramel… cheese caramel? © Meg for WhereNYC

The Flushing Town Hall was like a cheese cathedral with the main event upstairs: a feeding frenzy of cheese heaven. There were classic flavors and seemingly strange combinations that oddly worked like cheese and caramel.

CheeseGrotto cheese storage – don’t eat the cheese! © Meg for WhereNYC

Besides cheese, there were local finger foods, booze, healthy drinks, and various other things to enjoy at this incredible event. Upon check-in, all guests were given 3 pieces of white beans to put in the jars of their 3 favorite booths.

Personal favorites included Merion Park Cheese Company and Nettle Meadow.

Mr. & Mrs. Tatar from Merion Park Cheese © Meg for WhereNYC

Newcomer Merion Park Cheese, an urban cheese maker located outside of Philly, made its debut at the cheese fest, proudly presenting their two cheeses: Martha Street and Cynwyd Knoll. The Martha Street washed-rind cheese had a nice beer flavor to it, and even if you prefer other alcoholic drinks than beer (like myself), the tomme cheese and beer taste really worked together. Owner, Mr. Tatar, explained that instead of adding water, they add farmhouse ale to the cheese during the cheese making process. Although it was the first cheese booth that I visited, the Martha Street cheese and the creamy, garlic flavor of Cynwyd Knoll immediately became two of my favorites and I placed a bean in Merion Park’s jar. Their cheeses proved so popular, they rapidly sold out of Cynwyd Knoll, and I happily bought their Martha Street cheese.

mmm.. citrus kunik from Nettle Meadow © Meg for WhereNYC

Nettle Meadow‘s holiday cheeses included their Citrus Kunik with orange liqueur. “The citrus takes off the zing of the cheese,” explained one of the lovely ladies at the booth. What is kunik? It is an Eskimo word meaning “snow and kiss.”  It “has a goat kick to it,” one of the ladies added. Nettle Meadow’s other cheeses included: Partridge Mountain (cow cheese), Three Sisters (three-mild ripened cow cheese), and various cheese spreads such as Pfeffernusse Fromage Frais, which was surprisingly sweet (just the right amount) because of maple syrup added to the flavor, and was absolutely delicious. Very satisfied, my friend and I placed our beans in their jar as well.

local beer from Mikkeller Brewing © Meg for WhereNYC

Between cheese tastings, we chose a spot of liquid refreshment.  Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice, a women-owned family operated business, Mikkeller Brewing from Flushing, Queens, and Tea and Milk’s unusual combination of Oolong tea and their signature cream helped refresh the palette after tasting so many  delicious cheeses. Mikkeller Brewing Company’s dessert beer, the Hibiscus Pale Ale, was surprisingly dry and slightly tart. As for Tea and Milk’s cream and Oolong tea combination, I found myself scraping my plastic cup to get the last drop of cream. “Would you like more cream?” the friendly people at the booth asked me, and I laughed embarrassingly.

a cheesy crowd at the cheese fest © Meg for WhereNYC

There were the familiar freebies which greeted guests on the second floor, as the Yelp booth handed out Yelp-printed chopsticks (Ok, is this because we were in Flushing, or because I am Asian?).

The second floor was definitely poppin’ with live music from the grand piano and finger foods in addition to the cheese booths. An adorable little boy from Little Bird Kitchen was carrying a tray around with their ‘hot & sweet’ chocolates and nuts. “Please vote for us,” the boy said as he walked around in front of his family’s booth. His tray had chocolates and nuts with jalapeños added to the flavor, which surprisingly went well together. The peppery taste came at the end after the sweetness faded off. It was definitely a perfect combination of hot and sweet.

a sweet boy serving hot & sweet treats from Little Bird Kitchen © Meg for WhereNYC

The Royal Underground restaurant and whiskey club, which just opened on December 14th in Astoria, was there as well, dishing out goat cheese croquettes. Next to the Royal Underground, chef Roberto Caporuscio from Kesté Pizza & Vino served fresh mozzarella.

The Royal Underground serving goat cheese croquettes © Meg for WhereNYC

 

fresh mozzarella served by a lovely chef © Meg for WhereNYC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As my friend and I were getting cheesed-out, we happily took a bottle of free Galvanina Natural Mineral Water.

When the winners Nettle Meadow and The Royal Underground were announced, we left the cheese festival with a full stomach and loads of cheesy thoughts.

For more information on upcoming events, please visit Epicurean Events.