A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the cheesemonger smack down, called “The Best Bite”. Two dozen of the Northern California’s best cheesemongers were given a block of artisan cheese from one of the festival participants. They had to create a sumptuous bite using a taste of that cheese with other ingredients that enhanced and highlighted the best qualities of their cheese. Bites ranged from the over the top – chocolate covered potato chip with creamy goat cheese, topped with bacon shards and chili pepper jam – to the outrageous – chunks of fried pork rind topped with Bellwether’s Carmody cheese and a dab of apricot jam – to the sublime – a simple slice of dry salami with a small cube of white cheddar topped by a sun dried tomato. Guests circled the room, sampling and sipping wine, beer and cider to wash down the cheesy creations. In the middle was a long table groaning with wedges, bites and bits of each cheese in it’s pure form served with crackers. I dove in and tried each bite with gusto until I suddenly realized that my body couldn’t take anymore…..but it sure was fun while it lasted! Until next year, Artisan Cheese Festival!