Those of you who follow Robert Scoble know that I won the award for best cheese at Scoble’s 40th birthday party this weekend. For those who just might be interested in duplicating such an envious feat, I thought I’d share a few secrets. These, then, are the five basic rules for winning a cheese contest:

  1. Pick an expensive cheese. You’re out to impress people, and nothing impresses people like a high price. Anything less than $15 per pound just isn’t going to cut it. Show up with some cheap, processed, American cheese spread, and you’ll guarantee that people will talk about the crackers and not your cheese.
  2. Pick an obscure cheese. Everybody knows what cheddar, brie, camembert and bleu are supposed to taste like. And Roquefort, while an obvious sign of an educated palette, is just all too well known to capture people’s imagination. Besides, no one will ever vote for a cheese that has a salad dressing named after it.
  3. Pick a cheese that you can’t buy locally. If you can get it locally, you run the risk of someone else bringing the same cheese. Moreover, it’s way more impressive to have the cheese shipped to the party rather than tote it in underneath your arm. And, if the cheese arrives the day before, the host gets an opportunity to sample the cheese before the rest of the party. If the host then recommends the cheese, you’re already well ahead in the voting.
  4. Buy a significant quantity of the cheese. While it’s important to give large numbers of people ample opportunity to sample your cheese, and to sample it more than once, it’s also more impressive to the eye if your quarter wheel is the largest wedge of cheese on the counter. This also works in conjunction with rule #1. Your 2.5 lbs of cheese at $16 per pound will sound more impressive than the other person’s little 8 Oz wedge of gruyere at $18 per pound simply because you spent more total money.
  5. Don’t bring a stinky cheese—unless, of course, you want to win the stinkiest cheese contest. Aged brick is a very good cheese as far as flavor goes, but it will only capture the imagination of those who have no sense of smell. The rest won’t be able to get it past their noses. And, if your host does happen to have a sense of smell, you’ll guarantee yourself an early exit from the party—along with your cheese.

You can comply with all of these rules with one simple, armchair method: fire up your web browser, and either google or MSN Search for Wisconsin artisanal cheese. Click on the first link that comes up, click on the “order now” graphic, select the smallest unit they’ll sell you (which happens to be a 2.5 lb, quarter wheel of the stuff), follow the prompts, enter the recipient’s home address and your credit card, and just sit back and watch the fireworks.

Now, isn’t that just too easy?

I should warn you, however. If you do follow that search link and go through the above instructions, you will end up with a “drop-dead,” “freaking awesome,” “knock your socks off” good cheese. And, on occasion, that might just have more to do with winning a cheese contest than adherence to any of the above rules.

Rick

Currently playing in iTunes: 4 On 6 by Lee Ritenour