Local cheese has unexpected win at national conference

2014-08-03T00:00:00Z Local cheese has unexpected win at national conferenceBy Andi Berlin Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A Southern Arizona goat cheese beat out selections from across the country and took home a red ribbon at the American Cheese Society conference this weekend.

Fiore di Capra from rural Pomerene won second place in the marinated cheeses category for its Jalapeño-Garlic Marinated Chevre, a young log of goat cheese nestled in extra-virgin olive oil, herbs and pickled jalapeños.

The American Cheese Society conference, held this year in Sacramento, California, is the largest showcase of artisanal American cheeses in the country. Hundreds of creameries come together with retailers and distributors to attend seminars on a variety of topics.

The cheese festival is traditionally dominated by large cheese-producing states such as California, Wisconsin and Vermont, and Fiore di Capra chevre is the only Arizona cheese to win in recent memory.

It isn’t the first time the Southern Arizona creamery, run by Alethea Swift, has been recognized: Its chevre also won a Reserve Best in Show at the 2012 American Dairy Goat Association convention.

The 28-acre dairy farm outside of Benson began operations in 2004 and now houses 175 goats, producing over 20 varieties of fresh and ripened chevre, ricotta and feta. This is the first year it has made a submission to the conference.

In addition to selling cheese from her property, Swift is a vendor at the Sunday Heirloom Farmers Market at Rillito Park, 4502 N. First Ave. Her cheese can also be found at several Tucson restaurants including Blu — A Wine and Cheese Stop, 100 S. Avenida del Convento.

“This was definitely unexpected,” Swift said. “Next year, I’ll have to submit more.”

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