Queso Diego February 2017 newsletter with meeting RSVP link inside
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Upcoming: February Queso Diego Meeting

The February meeting of Queso Diego will feature a presentation by Larry Stein on cheeses styles.
Starting with this meeting, we are now allowed to share homemade alcoholic beverages (homebrew beer, wine, cider, mead) at our meetings at AleSmith.  We are still not permitted to bring outside commercial alcohol. Please remember to bring your own tasting glass.

Queso Diego February Meeting
Tuesday, February 21 @ 6:30PM
AleSmith Brewery
9990 AleSmith Court
San Diego, CA 92126

We'll be in a room off to the side of the Tasting Room - you can enter through an exterior door located on the South side of the building. Meetings are free, but we highly encourage bringing something tasty to share (including homemade and store-bought cheeses), and joining as a member for only $20/year. Please bring a chair to sit on.

Please RSVP using this form as soon as possible so that we can get an accurate head count:

Past: January Cheese & Bubbly Anniversary Party!

San Diego, CA - On January 17, 2017, we celebrated Queso Diego's 6th Anniversary with a cheese and bubbly pairing! During the party, President Earl Itrich took over the running of the meeting, successfully and smoothly transitioning into his new role for 2017.
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We enjoyed 5 cheeses well-paired with 5 bubbly beverages, shared tasty treats contributed by those who attended, got to know our members a little bit better, and the club even gave away some prizes! What a great way to celebrate the club's anniversary and start off our cheesey year!

A special thank you to our sponsors and the vendors who gave us great discounts and helpful advice for creating the pairings:

Smallgoods Cheese & Provisions
Julian Ciderworks
AleSmith Brewing Company
Bristol Farms

Cheese and Chocolate? Absolutely!

By Jeffree Itrich

February is undoubtedly chocolate month, due to a certain romantic holiday. According to research conducted by Nielsen, in the U.S. alone, more than 58 million pounds of chocolate candy is sold during Valentine's week. That's $345 million in sales in just one week and comprises of just over five percent of chocolate candy's sales for the year. But this is a cheese club. Is it possible to pair cheese with chocolate? You betcha! Combining cheese and chocolate creates a unexpected, yet harmonious pairing. Plus you get some pretty impressive health benefits when you combine the two. 

Chocolate’s essential ingredient, cacao, is loaded with antioxidant flavonoids and theobromine. A Swedish study that followed more than 31,000 women determined that women who eat one or two servings of dark chocolate each week cut their heart failure risk by one third. A study by Swiss researchers showed that eating dark chocolate reduced stress levels.
Cheese also packs a nice nutritional punch. It’s a fine way of getting your protein as well as a many essential vitamins and minerals, with the all-important calcium topping the list. Can you say “strong bones’?  A serving of cheese also contains phosphorus, zinc, Vitamin A, and Vitamin B12. 

Okay, onto planning your pairings. Consider the following:
As you strategize your tasting remember that there are no standard rules when it comes to pairing. Just experiment and see if you discover a new pairing that suits your palate. The key is to keep it simple. Both cheese and chocolate are super-rich foods and a little goes a long way. If your budget can afford it choose quality over quantity and limit yourself to three to five pairings.
Rich, hearty, nutty, chocolates and cheese share many of the same qualities, creating an unexpected flavorful pairing. For example, a spicy dark chocolate pairs well with an aged goat cheese. Who knew, right? To help you get started here are some pairing guidelines and suggestions. In general, light cheeses complement light flavors, while bold cheeses balance livelier flavors.

  • Soft ripened goat, sheep or cow’s milk cheeses that tend toward pungency, acidity and assertive flavors marry well with both dark and milk chocolate.
  • Aged cheese that is nutty yet less sharp pairs nicely with chocolates that have fillings or ingredients such as almonds, honey and maple.
  • Blue cheese, with its tangy flavor will heighten the undercurrent of a robust dark chocolate.
  • Truffles and caramels with their forward dairy and butter notes, are an easy choice to combine with any variety of cheese, most notably a decadent milk chocolate.
  • Dark, less-sweet chocolates go best with soft cheeses such as cream cheese, teleme and ricotta. Or you can pair a complex dark chocolate with a complex cheese that will stand up to the intense cocoa.
  • Milk chocolate and those containing dried fruit and nuts goes best with milky cheeses such as brie, triple-creams, washed rind and creamy blues. 
  • Spicy chocolates that contain chiles marry well with sharp cheeses that are not overly salty, for example, extra-sharp cheddar. 
  • Cheese with higher butterfat pairs nicely with chocolate that contains nuts.         
  • Washed rind cheeses complement fruity chocolates

Just as you aim to purchase high quality cheese, so you should seek out artisan chocolates, preferably from a local chocolatier rather than a grocery or drug store. Chocolate can go stale just like any comestible; seek out freshly made chocolates. 
 A few pairing suggestions:
 If you’re new to this type of pairing, definitely keep it simple:
–         Aged Gouda with dark chocolate
–         Aged Cheddar with a tart apple such as Granny Smith and a decadent dark chocolate
–         Triple Crème Brie drizzled with melted dark chocolate and fresh strawberries
Want to step it up a notch? 
–         Aged Parmesan and dark chocolate with a Oat Stout Beer
–         Gruyere or another robust Alpine cheese with toasted cashews and a rich milk chocolate
Want to try a really full-bodied pairing?
–         Blue cheese, intense dark chocolate truffles and port wine or an aged sherry.
–         Mixed milk Cheese (cow, sheep and goat milk) with white chocolate and a chutney such as cranberry or cherry. 

The Art of the Tasting 
Be sure that both your cheese and chocolates are at room temperature before starting. A basic rule of thumb: remove the cheeses from the refrigerator at least 20-35 minutes before starting the tasting to amplify flavors and aromas. If you refrigerated your chocolates, remove them from the fridge at least an hour ahead of time, if not longer. 

To get started, first smell both the chocolate and the cheese before tasting. Generally tasting the cheese first works better than the reverse. 

Take a small bite of cheese followed by a small bite of chocolate, chew a bit, and then take another small bite of cheese. See how the flavors complement each other. 

Bon Appetit!
Jeffree Itrich 

Queso Diego Participates in the 3rd Annual Fermentation Festival!

For another year, Queso Diego will have a booth at the San Diego Fermentation Festival, voluntarily staffed by Queso Diego members (thank you!). Be sure to stop by the Queso Diego booth this Saturday at the Fermentation Festival! Click here to buy tickets: San Diego Fermentation Festival

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Cheese Recipe of the Month

Happy National Fondue Month! Why not combine the celebration of National Fondue Month and Valentine's Day with Chocolate Mascarpone Fondue

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:

Earl Itrich

Vice President
Curt Wittenberg

Chuck West

Lisa Chamberlain

Membership Chair
Larry Stein

IT Chair
Chris Banker

Kristin Pearey

Joanne West

Education Coordinator
Don Rutherford

Newsletter, Editor-in-Chief
Alyssa Humbert

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

February  2, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Fermented Pairings Series Vol. 13: American Hand-crafted Cheeses - $25
White Labs Tasting Room with Smallgoods
9495 Candida Street
San Diego, CA 92126
Buy tickets here:

February 4, 10:00AM - 5:00PM
San Diego Fermentation Festival - $25
Waterfront Park
1600 Pacific Highway
San Diego, CA 92106
Buy tickets here:

February 6, 6:00PM - 8:00PM
Curd is the Word - $50
Venissimo Liberty Station
2820 Historic Decatur Road
San Diego, CA 92106
Buy tickets here:

February 8, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Cheese 101 - $50
Venissimo Del Mar
2650 Via de la Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014
Buy tickets here:

February 9, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Wine & Cheese Sampling OB - $30
Gianni Buonomo Tasting Room with Venissimo
4836 Newport Avenue
Ocean Beach, CA 92107
Buy tickets here:

February 12, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Chocolate & Bubbles - $60
Venissimo Downtown
789 Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101
Buy tickets here:

February 13, 6:00PM - 7:00PM
Valentine's Beer Bash - $30
Venissimo North Park / Bottlecraft
2007 University Avenue
San Diego, CA 92104
Buy tickets here:

February 13, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Chocolate & Bubbles - $60
Venissimo Del Mar
2650 Via de la Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014
Buy tickets here:

February 16, 3:00PM - 6:00PM
Cheese Feast - $25
Venissimo Del Mar
2650 Via de la Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014
Buy tickets here:

February 18, 5:00PM - 6:30PM
Beer & Cheese - $55
Coin Haus with Venissimo
8361 Allison Avenue
La Mesa, CA 91942
Buy tickets here:

February 20, 6:00PM - 8:00PM
Chef Showcase - $50
Venissimo Liberty Station
2820 Historic Decatur Road
San Diego, CA 92106
Buy tickets here:

February 21, 6:30PM
Queso Diego February Meeting
AleSmith Brewing Company
9990 AleSmith Court
San Diego, CA 92126
RSVP here:

February 21, 6:00PM - 8:00PM
Grapes & Curds - $60
Ambrogio 15 with Venissimo
926 Turquoise Street
Pacfic Beach, CA 92109
Buy tickets here:

February 22, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Fab French Fromage - $50
Venissimo Del Mar
2650 Via de la Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014
Buy tickets here:

February 23, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Old vs. New World - $50
Venissimo Downtown
789 Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101
Buy tickets here:

February 26, 12:00PM - 3:00PM
Queso Diego Cheesemaking Class: Mozzarella - $35
Ascension Lutheran Church
5105 Zion Avenue
San Diego, CA 92120
Pay via PayPal to:

February 28, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Cider + Cheese Rules - $30
Venissimo North Park in Bottlecraft
3007 University Avenue
San Diego, CA 92104
Buy tickets here:
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

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

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

9990 AleSmith Court
San Diego, CA 92126

Thank you to Peter Zien, the owner of AleSmith, and his amazing employees for generously letting us use their space for our meetings!
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

Bice San Diego
425 Island Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
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Cost: Discount at your business for Queso Diego members (usually 10%)

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- Free ad in our monthly newsletter
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To become a Queso Diego sponsor, email:
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