I can hardly believe it, but it is already coming up to that fantastic time of year in Brisbane once again – Ekka time!

And how do we know that this magical time of year is approaching? Well, the judging for the Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show of course!

Delectable treats have been going under the microscope already in preparation for the annual August spectacular at the RNA showgrounds, with last week seeing the titles of Australia’s best ice cream and Australia’s best cheese awarded.

A team of 17 judges tasted their way through 500 dairy products and 164 ice cream, gelato and sorbet products over four days last week to crown the nation’s best.

I was lucky enough to attend some of the judgings and also the winners’ announcement for these two categories, and in between covering the amazing desserts and cheeses on offer, I was sure to grab plenty of snaps – just looking at them now makes my mouth water!

In the competition for Australia’s best ice cream as part of the RQFWS Ice Cream, Gelato and Sorbet Competition presented by Lendlease, there were many worthy contenders but it was a Queensland gelateria which would scoop (see what I did there) the title for the second year in a row with a dark chocolate sorbet.

Milani House of Gelato from Hamilton in Brisbane triumphed from 164 entries to win the Grand Champion title, along with taking home all six champion awards. Its domination in 2017 follows a similar lock-out of the competition last year, where it was awarded as the Grand Champion for its dark chocolate gelato and took out five champion trophies.

I was lucky enough to have a taste of the award-winning confection, and let me tell you, it was a deserving winner – smooth and creamy and oh-so-tasty, I can recommend this product far and wide!

The judges explained to me that the Milani House of Gelato’s domination is even more impressive when you take into consideration the fact that this is only the second time in the competition’s history that a sorbet has taken out the Grand Champion title, as sorbet does not enjoy the advantage of dairy milk solids like ice cream and gelato do to make them nice and creamy.

When it came time for the awarding of Australia’s best cheese in the Cheese and Dairy Produce Show presented by Lendlease, it was Berrys Creek Gourmet Cheese from South Gippsland in Victoria which took out the Grand Champion title for the third year in a row for its Riverine Blue product, made from buffalo milk.

I hit up one of the judges as to what it is about this product that sees it consistently recognized as a winner.

It seems that the blue cheese is viewed as a product which is consistently world-class, thanks to its smooth creamy texture which combines a balance of sweet spicy flavors. I was sure to have a try, and I certainly have no hesitation throwing my vote behind this tasty blue cheese.

There were plenty of other winners announced on Friday as well and you can check out the full list of title holders for yourself at http://bit.ly/2rmrUwc (Cheese and Dairy) and http://bit.ly/2qUhYIW (Ice Cream, Gelato, and Sorbet).

Want to check out these award-winning products for yourself? They will feature during this year’s Ekka, so make sure you check them out – there are just 74 days to go!