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

Gearing up for the San Diego County Fair Homemade Cheese Competition

WOW I was blown away by the creative and delicious grilled cheese creations at last month's Grilled Cheese meeting!

With the San Diego County Fair's Homemade Cheese competition a little over a month away, it's time to get your cheeses going! It might be too late for aged cheeses, so get started on planning your fresh cheeses!

Just a friendly reminder that guests and non-members are allowed to come to our meetings. However, as you've noticed, our paid members are very generous with sharing tasty treats. Guests and non-members are welcome to meetings for free, however, I highly encourage everyone bring something tasty to share and join as a member for only $20/year.

If you have any ideas for our meetings, social events, or concerns, I'm here to listen!

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

Next meeting: May 17

Alyssa Humbert (pron: uh-LEE-sha) will be presenting on Entering your Cheese in the San Diego County Fair's Homemade Cheese Competition! We will discuss the competition, judging, categories, entry requirements, and provide some tips for maximizing your chances of taking home some ribbons and prizes. Feel free to bring cheeses to be evaluated by some of our experienced club members.

Tuesday, May 17 @ 6:30PM
AleSmith Brewery
9990 AleSmith Court
San Diego, CA 92126

We will be in a room off to the side of the Tasting Room - you can enter through an exterior door on the left of the main entrance. Meetings are free, but we highly recommend bringing something tasty to share and joining as a member for $20/year. Please bring a chair to sit on. Outside alcohol is not permitted.

Please RSVP here:

April meeting recap: Grilled Cheese Celebration

In April, we celebrated National Grilled Cheese month with our annual Grilled Cheese Meeting! Just look at these amazing photos!

American classic: Kraft American cheese on white bread spread with mayonnaise

Tostones: fried plantains, pepper jack cheese, and cilantro sauce

Pizzadillas: flour tortillas, tomato sauce, cheese, and pepperonis!

Bacon waffles, chicken, cheese, and butter!

Sourdough bread with asparagus, caramelized onions, and Camembert

San Diego County Fair Homemade Cheese Competition

Friday, June 24, by 12:45PM
Deliver entries between opening time of the Fair and 12:45pm Friday, June 24th to the Home & Hobby area located on the 2nd floor, west end of the Grandstand. Judging starts at 1:00pm and once the judging process starts, no late entries will be accepted.

No pre-registration required, no fees, just bring your homemade cheese and filled out recipe form (found here: to the fair. Your entry gains you free admission into the fair!

Since the competition falls on a Friday this year, Queso Diego VP Earl Itrich has generously offered to take your cheese with recipe form to the competition for anyone who can't go. Just bring your cheese and recipe form to the Queso Diego meeting on Tuesday, June 21 prepped and ready for Earl to submit to the competition. Thanks, Earl!

Further details here:

Visiting Northern California Creameries

By Jeffree Wyn Itrich, Queso Diego Member since 2012

Should you find yourself up in the Bay Area, do yourself a favor and visit a couple of my favorite creameries. You won’t regret the drive. This month you’ll learn about Vella and next month about a unique Portuguese cheese made at the Joe Matos Cheese Factory, near Santa Rosa. 

I first visited the Vella Cheese Company on the square in the idyllic town of Sonoma in the 1970s, when I lived in San Francisco. A friend who lived in Valley of the Moon, a very tiny community at the time (maybe it still is, haven’t been there in a while), told me that it was a local’s kind of place and I couldn’t taste or buy the cheese anywhere other than the creamery. Of course with a recommendation like that, I had to visit, right? 

These days Vella makes several kinds of cheeses, but back when I “met” this creamery (and by the way, fell head over heels for their cheese) they made and sold pretty much only Monterey Jack and a Dry Jack.  They do business in an old stonewalled building, first built to house a brewery. When Prohibition insidiously invaded the country, the brewery bowed out of brewing. The old building made it through the 1906 earthquake and a fire. More about the building later. 

Tom Vella arrived in Sonoma in the early part of the 1920s. He found work at the Sonoma Mission Creamery, where his brother Joseph held considerable stock. Tom quickly developed a gift for making exceptional cheeses. In 1931 a bunch of local dairymen approached Tom Vella with an idea. If he would start a creamery of his own, they guaranteed him all the quality milk he would need to operate profitably. Who would turn down an opportunity like that? Well, not Tom. He jumped at the offer. When the U.S. entered World War II the Vella Cheese Company ramped up into high gear, running extra shifts at full capacity. In 1951 Tom moved the mainstay of the cheese-making operation into the original Sonoma Mission Creamery, across from the Sonoma Plaza, which by the way was the site of where the Bear Flag was first raised in 1846. In 1969 Tom moved the bulk of his cheesemaking activities back to the old stonewalled building on Second Street East, where it still operates today. 

Tom made an early decision to focus on one really good cheese, and that cheese was Jack cheese, originally created during the Gold Rush in Monterey by a Scottish cheesemaker named David Jacks, hence the name of the cheese. Then the Italian community in and around Sonoma asked Tom to make a hard cheese that they could use in making Italian dishes. They were obviously thinking of something like Parmesan or Romano, but Tom took it one better by creating a “dry” Jack cheese. It was an immediate success and I will add the first Vella cheese I tasted at the creamery back in the 1970s. Love doesn’t begin to describe my instantaneous affair with this cheese. It’s smooth and buttery with a sweet, nutty flavor. Nirvana doesn’t get any better than this. 

If you’re ever in the Bay Area you owe it to yourself to visit this creamery and sample the many styles of Dry Jack (there are six). The high moisture Jack is just as good, I’m simply partial to the Dry Jack (it was my first love, can you blame me?) They also make three styles of Cheddar, four other Italian cheeses and sell salame. If you don’t think you’ll be visiting the Bay Area anytime soon you can order the cheeses on their website: 

About Jeffree
Jeffree is a published author, quilter, and cheesemaker. Read uplifting stories on her blog, The Goodness Principle and view her website here:

Cheese Recipe of the Month

Camembert Hedgehog Bread doesn't include "hedgehog" in its ingredient list. In fact, it's vegetarian, try it out (and bring it to the next Queso Diego meeting!)

Writers needed

A special thank you to Jeffree Itrich for contributing to this month's newsletter!

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 Board of 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

May 15, 1:00PM - 3:00PM
Kefir, Yogurt, & Yogurt Cheese - $30
Ascension Lutheran Church
5106 Zion Avenue
San Diego, CA 92120
RSVP here:

May 17, 6:30PM
Queso Diego May Meeting - free
AleSmith Brewery
9990 AleSmith Court
San Diego, CA 92126

May 19, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Get to Know Cheese - $50
Venissimo @ The Headquarters
789 West Harbor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101
Buy tickets here:

May 22, 5:00PM - 6:30PM
Italian Formaggio - $50
Venissimo Del Mar
2650 Via de la Valle
San Diego, CA
Buy tickets here:

May 28, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
West Coast Wine & Cheese Tasting - $35
The Flight Path
1202 Kettner Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92101

June 24, 12:45PM
San Diego County Fair Homemade Cheese Competition
2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd.
Del Mar, CA 92014
Home & Hobby area, 2nd Floor, West end of Grandstand
Details here:

June 24, 6:00PM
Wine & Music Festival - $30
Women's Museum of California
2730 Historic Decatur Road
San Diego, CA 92106
Buy tickets here:
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
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

The Cheese Store
1980 Kettner Blvd.
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

The Ugly Dog
6344 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92115
Get 10% off your purchase with your Queso Diego membership (15% off food during happy hour)

Bice Ristorante
425 Island Ave. 
San Diego, CA 92101
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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