As many as 8,000 are expected this weekend for the first annual Festival de Quesos y Bebidas (cheeses and drinks) at Cuenca’s Mall del Rio convention center. The three-day event, which begins Friday morning at 11, features national and international cheeses, wines and beers, as well as live music and dancing exhibitions.
Among the 200 exhibitors are artisanal cheese, liquor and beer makers as well as importers of international products. In addition, there are more than a dozen creators of chocolate products, including candy, liqueurs, perfumes and and skin creams.
According to festival organizer Jorge Román, the event recognizes the growing sophistication of tastes of Cuencanos. “In the past, an exhibition such as this would be more appropriate in Quito and Guayaquil but the market in Cuenca is changing rapidly as the appreciation for fine cheese and drink grows,” he says. “The festival will not only offer a taste of the creations of the exhibitors, but also an education about the process of making cheeses and drinks and how to distinguish the quality of the various products.”
The festival offers a number of special events including workshops by champion sommelier Karina Muñoz on wine tasting and pairing.
Among cheese exhibitors are the cheesemakers from Saraguro and Cotacachi, including award-winning La Verde Oveja Farm, which produces Ecuador’s only sheep milk cheeses.
Among the international importers of wine, liquor, beer and cheese are the Eljuri Group, La Taberna, the Winery and Licor Cristal Corp.
General admission is $2 per person but the $12 VIP admission comes with a wine glass that can be refilled “endlessly.”
Among the events on Friday are a performance by the Trio Yanuncay at 5 p.m.; a tango dance exhibition at 6 p.m.; wine tasting and pairing workshop with sommelier Karina Munoz at 8 p.m.; and a musical tribute to Spanish singer Joaquín Sabina at 9.p.m.
Saturday special events include a performance by the Trio Yanuncay at noon; a tango exhibition at 1 p.m.; wine tasting and pairing workshop with sommelier Karina Munoz at 7 p.m.; and a musical tribute to the Hombres G at 9 p.m.
The festival closes Sunday night at 7:30 p.m.