Queso Diego October 2016 newsletter with meeting RSVP link inside
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Message from the President

Happy Holidays!

This is it: My last month as your Queso Diego President! We accomplished so much together, including adjusting to a new venue. 

Certainly, some things could have been improved and we're still working to make the club better every year. We're getting some good news from Peter Zien about the future of our club's meeting space.

Earl has been an excellent Vice President and has done so much for Queso Diego in his role this year. You're in good hands with him as 2017 President.

You'll still see me at the meetings, I'll just be more relaxed and actually have a chance to carry a conversation with you, I can't wait!

Alyssa Humbert
(pron: uh-LEE-shah)
2016 Queso Diego President
Queso Diego Newsletter Editor-In-Chief

December Holiday Party

Each year in lieu of our usual monthly meeting, we have a holiday party! 

Tuesday, December 13, 6:00PM
Queso Diego Holiday Party
Invitations were sent out to paid Queso Diego members on Thursday, Nov. 17 (if you didn't receive the invitation, please email
You still have time to pay your membership dues (here) and receive an invitation to the party!

Opportunity Drawing - This is our only fundraiser of the year
Funds help pay for supplies and cheeses provided at our monthly meetings
Tickets: 1 ticket free with entry, $1 = 1 ticket, $10 = arm's length of tickets
Please bring cash to pay for tickets

Potluck - Queso Diego will provide a Honey Baked Ham!
We encourage bringing a main dish so we're not overflowing with sides and snacks
Dishes must be ready to serve - no cooking permitted in the hostess' kitchen, bring your own serving utensils
Alcohol IS permitted - hooray!

Please consider bringing your own tasting glass to reduce waste
Please wear your Queso Diego membership badge

Thank you Chuck and Joanne West for hosting our holiday party!

January Anniversary Party

To celebrate the 6th anniversary of Queso Diego and the new year, we are again holding our annual Cheese and Bubbly Pairing! We'll explore a variety of pairings with cheeses and sparkling beverages such as sparkling wines, cider, and beer. The Bubbly and Cheese Party is a special annual event in lieu of our regular meeting.

Queso Diego Bubbly and Cheese Anniversary Party
Tuesday, January 19th, 2016 @ 6:30PM
Address to be sent out to guests who submit their payment in advance via PayPal

$10 for paid members
$15 for guests (however if they join Queso Diego this drops it to $10)

The club will provide a guided flight of beverage and cheese pairings, along with some bread, crackers, and fruit to accompany the pairings.

Members are encouraged to bring food and beverages (alcohol is allowed!) to share at the start of the meeting. Please bring your Queso Diego taster glass to cut down on waste.

We will require advanced payment for this party via PayPal. This party is limited to 60 with priority to paid members. Invitations to go out later in December.

Have a Cheesy Holiday

By Jeffree Itrich

Is there such a thing as Christmas cheese? I Googled the term and didn’t come up with much, but I did find a ton of articles about cheese being one of the essential items to serve at a holiday gathering. Oh yeah, no kidding. 

According to The Courtyard Daily, a cheese shop in Settle, England, the tradition of eating good cheese at Christmas time is all about timing. For certain cheeses, they reach their maturity in December and are ready to be cut and served. For example, creamy Lancashire and classic Stilton, are at their best when made with milk from summer’s end. They’re coming to peak maturity now, just in time for Christmas.

Then there is the obvious reason to serve cheese at this time of year. At the holidays it is traditional to serve guests the best of whatever you can afford and to show your appreciation to the people in your life. As Queso Diegans know, cheese ranks very high on the list of foods absolutely, indisputably essential for any holiday party because a platter of really really good cheese shows how much you care about your guests. So with that in mind here is my subjective list of top cheeses to serve at a holiday party:

  • Nutty, fruity and gracefully balanced, Comte is a lovely European alpine cheese. Great for melting in fondue, it’s equally nice plain. The mild flavors stand out without overwhelming the palette, which makes it the perfect companion to hearty red wines and nearly all whites. It can hold its own with IPAs and Barleywines too. Want to try an American Appenzeller style cheese? You can’t go wrong with Roelli’s Little Mountain from Wisconsin. It won Best of Show at this year’s American Cheese Society awards. 
  • A seasonal favorite, the Vacherin Mont D’Or is a soft, washed rind, very creamy cheese full of woodsy flavors. French and Swiss cheese makers of the Jura region typically make it at the end of the harvest season which means it’s available only from Thanksgiving until late spring. The Swiss version of the cheese goes by the name Vacherin Mont d' Or, while the same cheese in France goes by Vacherin du Haut Doubs. It marries well with medium-bodied red and white wines.
  • Some say that the best blue cheese made in America and one of the best in the world is Rogue River Blue from Central Point, Oregon, an American Cheese Society winner. The cheese maker wraps it in grape leaves that they macerate in pear brandy. The flavor starts out berry-like, leading into pine overtones that finish with a tinge of wild mushrooms. A cheese this strong needs an equally strong mate for pairing. Think hoppy beers, sweet white wine, mead or your fave barley wine.
  • Beechers Flagship. These guys are good, really good. I’ve visited them in Seattle where you can watch them make cheese on a grand scale. No need to fly north, you can buy it locally at Sprouts.  It’s a semi-hard, cow’s milk cheese, aged for 15 months. Want to step it up? Search out their award-winning Flagship Reserve. It too has won a ton of awards. For a really special evening order their Yule Kase, Beecher’s holiday version of the Reserve. After 13 months of open-air aging in cloth, it’s further aged in red wine and blackberry honey giving it nut and caramel flavors with a touch of berries and honey. Not sure if it’s available locally, you may need to buy it on their website. 
  • Special Select Dry Monterey Jack, Vella Cheese Company, Sonoma County. One of my all-time favorite cheeses. Aged one to two years, in short, this cheese comes as close to nirvana in the mouth as you’re going to get. I first discovered Vella’s Dry Jack when I lived in the Bay Area eons ago. A friend who lived in the Sonoma area took me to Vella, which was the only place you could buy it. Seriously. It was not known outside of the little town of Sonoma; if you wanted a wedge or a wheel you had to visit the creamery. I was smitten from the get-go; only problem was, after that I could never again eat regular Monterey Jack and I had to drive from San Francisco to Sonoma to buy a wedge! Not so easy on my starving student budget. This cheese has won more gold medals and best of show awards than I can list here. If you can’t find it locally, buy it online at Vella’s website. It’s not inexpensive, but it will be worth it. 
  • Red Hawk from Cowgirl Creamery. This sumptuous cow’s milk cheese has won award after award after award. It’s made with wild bacteria native to the Point Reyes area which defines this robust triple cream. The cowgirls age it for four weeks and wash it in a brine solution that promotes the red-orange rind.
  • Love Gouda cheese, love aged goudas even more, especially with a twist. Midnight Moon is a goat milk Gouda with notable overtones of ripe fruit and fresh herbs. We tasted it at October’s cider event in Julian. You may recall that it’s made in Europe at the direction of the Cypress Grove Creamery. Among firm goat milk cheeses it is considered the standard for flavor and quality (which are smoother in the finish than their softer counterparts). It pairs very nicely with most reds, dry whites, holiday ales and of course – cider. 
  • Manchego. I have adored this sublime Spanish sheep’s milk cheese from my first bite. There’s a good reason why it’s the most popular cheese in Spain, it’s divine. The flavor of Manchego cheese changes as it matures. At about three months old Manchego exhibits a mild, sweet aroma with a smooth and creamy texture. Soon after it begins to develop the granular, dry, crumbly texture of a long-aged Manchego. Depending on the age of your cheese it can taste sweet, a bit salty and slightly nutty. Fortunately, it’s easy find, relatively affordable and never disappoints. Trader Joe’s sells a fine Manchego or you can go higher-end at one of our local cheese shops. Either way it won’t disappoint.  
  • Derby Sage. I first tasted this green-marbled cheese in the 1970s when I lived in San Francisco. Blew me away; I’d never tasted anything like it. Funny thing is -- I’m not a big fan of sage flavor. However this British cow’s milk cheese doesn’t overwhelm with sagey taste. It’s a semi-hard cheese aged from one to three month. Originally it was made for the Christmas season; these days it’s available year round. 

Interview with a Cheesemaker: Alyssa Humbert

"It's pronounced UH-LEE-SHA"

Why and when did you begin making cheese?
I love food and cooking! I took my first cheese class, a mozzarella and ricotta class, at Sur La Table when my husband bought me a gift card. I loved how the products I bought from the store could be made easily and with better flavor at home. Next, I took a basic cheese class at Curds & Wine, where G explored all kinds of cheeses. I learned that many cheeses use the same techniques and even the same ingredients! You can make so many types of cheeses once you know the basics!

What is your favorite cheesemaking book?
I use Ricki Carroll’s Home Cheese Making book

What’s your favorite kind of cheese to make?
Flavored chevre is my specialty! I have a constant supply of fresh, raw goat milk as a member of the goat co-op at City Farmers Nursery, so I always have chevre on hand.

Please share your favorite cheese recipe
See my standard recipe for chevre from my Flavored Cheeses presentation: I start the cheese before bed, allow the curd to form overnight, and by morning it's ready to drain and eat by the time I get home from work!

What’s in your cheese cave right now?
Raw goat petite Brie, raw goat Blue, and I always have raw goat chevre in my fridge

Other than cheese, what are your other hobbies and interests?
I’m part of the goat co-op at City Farmers Nursery, I run half marathons, I’m President of Queso Diego and Editor-in-Chief of its monthly newsletter, some amateur sewing and jewelry making, I dabble in homebrewing, I love to: cook, read, eat, run, camp, hike, travel

What do you do for work?
I’m the Director of Operations for Traveling Stories, a local 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to inspiring kids to fall in love with reading. We set up StoryTents at local farmers markets and our volunteers read with kids! We’re always looking for volunteers:

What is your favorite food made with cheese?
This is a ridiculous question, anything made with cheese! But maybe it’s pizza.

How did you find out about Queso Diego?
From G’s cheese class at Curds & Wine! She mentioned it in the Cheesemaking Fundamentals class I took back in 2010.

What kind of cheeses do you wish to make in the future?
Brie is my favorite cheese to eat and I'm pretty close to making it edible. I'd also like to experiment with a goat Cheddar. I've had to throw out a bunch of raw goat Blue cheeses, it's just not happening for now.

Have you thought about selling your cheese?
Yes and my friends who try my cheeses all tell me I should, but there are so many hurdles to selling homemade cheese that I abandoned the idea.

Cheese Recipe of the Month

I'm sharing my favorite appetizer recipe: it's really easy to make (bonus points if you make your own chevre!) and so delicious! 

Goat Cheese and Roasted Pepper Crostini


Writers needed

We're looking for writers to contribute a one-time or monthly article to the new Queso Diego newsletter. If you would like to submit an article or idea for future articles, please send your suggestion to:

Thanks to our amazing club Officers:

Alyssa Humbert

Vice President
Earl Itrich

Chuck West

Don Rutherford

Membership Chair
Sandy McCampbell

IT Chair
Chris Banker

Curt Wittenberg

To contact all of us with questions, concerns, suggestions, email us at:
Upcoming Events

December 3, 1:00PM - 4:00PM
Cheesemaking Fundamentals Class - $75
Curds and Wine
7194 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92111
Buy tickets here:

December 5, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Holiday Celebration - $50
Venissimo Liberty Station
2820 Historic Decatur Road
San Diego, CA 92106
Buy tickets here: 

December 7, 7:00PM
Wine & Cheese Evening - $35
Congregational Church of La Jolla
1216 Cave Street
La Jolla, CA 92037
Buy tickets here here:

December 7, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Fab French Fromage - $50
Venissimo downtown
789 West Harbor Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92101
Buy tickets here:

December 8, 6:00PM
Fermented Pairings Series Vol. 12: Infused Cheeses - $40
White Labs 
9495 Candida Street
San Diego, CA 92126
Buy tickets here:

December 12, 7:00PM
Wine & Cheese
The Flight Path
1202 Kettner Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92101
RSVP here:

December 12, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Holiday Celebration - $50
Venissimo Del Mar
2650 Via de la Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014
Buy tickets here:

December 13, 6:00PM
Queso Diego Holiday Party - potluck
RSVP and location has been mailed to paid members only

December 13, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Beer Battles Wine - $50
Venissimo North Park
3007 University Ave.
San Diego, CA 92104
Buy tickets here:

December 14, 6:00PM
Cheese & Olive Oils
Seaport Olive Oil
3913 4th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103
RSVP here:

December 15, 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Cheese Concierge - $25
Warwick's Books
7812 Girard Ave.
La Jolla, CA 
Buy tickets here:

December 15, 3:00PM - 6:00PM
Cheese Feast - $25
Venissimo Del Mar
2650 Via de la Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014
Buy tickets here:

December 26, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Boxing Day Bash - $50
Venissimo Liberty Station
2820 Historic Decatur Road
San Diego, CA 92106
Buy tickets here:

December 28, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Bubbles Cheese Chocolate - $60
Venissimo downtown
789 West Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101
Buy tickets here:

December 29, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Bubbles Cheese Chocolate - $60
Venissimo Del Mar
2650 Via de la Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014
Buy tickets here:

January 19, 6:30PM
Queso Diego Cheese & Bubbly Anniversary Pairing
RSVP by paying via PayPal ($10 for members | $15 for non-members):
Get 10% off your purchase with your Queso Diego membership

Bice San Diego
425 Island Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Get 10% off your purchase with your Queso Diego membership

Smallgoods Cheese & Provisions
La Jolla Open Aire Market
7335 Girard Ave.
La Jolla, CA 92037
Get 10% off your purchase with your Queso Diego membership

Curds and Wine
7194 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. 
San Diego, CA 92111
Get 10% off your purchase with your Queso Diego membership

Locations throughout San Diego County
Get 10% off your purchase with your Queso Diego membership

Brothers Provisions
16451 Bernardo Center Road. 
San Diego, CA 92127
Get 10% off your purchase with your Queso Diego membership
Custom orders available!

Bottles & Wood
5039 Shawline Street
San Diego, CA 92117
Thank you to Peter Zien, the owner of AleSmith, and his amazing employees for generously letting us use their space for our meetings!
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To become a Queso Diego sponsor, email:
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