Monday, June 20, 2005

warwick cheese festival pt1

So after my mandarin class , we headed off to the annual Warwick cheese festival, we being; myself, Val, and Sean. I think we all had these visions of some haut-gastro event; bespecatcled european men with foulards and big noses, nibbling discerningly on artisanal raw milk curds. Well.... when we got to Warwick they were gearing up for the parade.. yes a cheese parade. Actually it seemed like an excuse for the town to party, and everyone was out on their remarkably similar lawn chairs drinking beer in the main street. The parade was pretty much what you would expect, some local industry and shops, some tractors, a marching band, some big horses, and some really cute dwarf ponies drawing their own miniture sized wagon.. to die for. Oh and two giant mascot type swans... I have no clue what the swans were all about, they might have had something to do with the large fiberglass bull that followed, but by then we had lost intrest and were wandering towards the cheese.
We had been told at the cheese factory that there was only junk food available so we hunkered down to a nasty cheese burger and an even nastier poutine. I did discover that vinegar and black pepper make poutine much more interesting, for me at least. We later found the SAQ bistro which kind of pissed us off.
The cheese festival itself was, I guess a little bit of a let down for us, due in large part to the atmosphere. There were however some really interesting products, which we can divide into three categories:
1) alcohol (wine, cidre, beer.. beer was a popular one)
2) cheese (I should hope so)
3) other (fudge, emu and all its derived products, emu eggs are beautiful by the way, and other stuff)

There were two sections, an outside tent and an off season hockey arena, both full of people hawking their products. You had to buy tickets (20 for 5$, this, after the 12$ admission fee) and then trade them in for the product samples. 10 minutes after having been told that 20 would be more than enough, I was back in line for 20 more.
The general atmosphere was pretty raucus. People were pushing and trying to get in line for beer and cheese, the problem being that no lines actually existed so it was pretty much luck of the draw. Most of the stalls were puny, and the people staffing them were chatty and nice, which in these circumstances really didn't speed things up. After 2 hours of josteling for the chance at a toothpick or two of cheese I was, a) cheesed out, b) just fed up. That, and a few really nasty products, and we just traded our tickets in for more beer and stopped. Somewhere between the emu and the nasty cheese we lost Val, so me and Sean just sat in one place, and tried to spot the gay people. For some reason this is always fun.
More posts on products later.. including a cheese I found just beyond nasty, a surprisingly good late harvest wine from (gasp) Laval, and some pictures that Sean was kind enough to take.

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