Connecticut's Arethusa Farm Europa Cheese Just Crowned Best In The US

Move over Westminster Kennel Club, you may have an army of cute dogs to show off, but when it comes to food competitions, the cheese world has Arethusa Farm Europa, the country's new best cheese. While people turn out in droves to cheer on man's best friend, what we really want to see when we're sitting in the stands of a stadium is a lineup of man's best dairy products. Some people have Pomeranians, we have parmesan. And be honest, how many awards competitions turn out winners you can actually go out and buy? How many give you something you can spread over crusty bread or melt on a burger? Exactly.

The United States Championship Cheese Contest has been around for a while, judging the best cheeses in the country since 1981. The two-and-a-half-day event is hosted by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association and judges cheese from over a hundred different classes. While there are other great cheese shows out there, like the international World Cheese Awards, the Championship Cheese Contest is a fantastic showcase for purely American products. Looking through winners' past and present is definitive proof that American cheeses have moved far beyond the years of bland industrial varieties and embraced a whole range of styles and flavors. While the competitors are diverse, this year's winner comes from a perennially popular style and is just waiting for some crackers and beer.

Europa is a Gouda-style cheese from Arethusa Farms

With an impressive score of 98.739 out of 100, an aged Gouda named Europa from Arethusa Farm Dairy in Bantam, Connecticut, is 2023's U.S. cheese champion. In a press release, The United States Championship Cheese Contest said a team of 42 judges awarded the crown to Europa over 2,249 other entries. The cheese submissions came from almost 200 different dairies and 35 different states. The winning farm, Arethusa Dairy, has an award-winning reputation dating back over a decadeĀ and produces a range of products, including ice cream, butter, and yogurt, in addition to its now championship cheese. Arethusa Dairy describes Europa as having "aromas of butterscotch and toasted nuts" and a "savory, brothy flavor."

While Connecticut may have taken home the top prize, other winners were overwhelmingly Wisconsin cheeses, who took home 54 gold medals, far ahead of second-place California. That impressive showing for America's Dairyland included both the first and second runners-up: Vintage Cupola American Original Cheese from Red Barn Family Farms and a cheddar from Associated Milk Producers. No matter who took the top prizes, this is a situation where the winners are, unironically, all of us. There may have been no other time in history when it's been better to be a cheese lover in America, and amazing products like Europa are proof that the future is just as bright as the present.