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

New year, New Queso Diego!

Those who attended the January Cheese-versary and Bubbly Pairing, thank you for voting Earl Itrich our Vice President! As I mentioned, Earl and Don Rutherford contacted Peter Zien at AleSmith about using the brewery as the new Queso Diego meeting space. Thanks to them, we'll be meeting at AleSmith this month!

Due to the 15 RSVPs who did not show up to the January Cheese-versary and Bubbly Pairing event, another change is that we will be charging in advance for events that cost Queso Diego money. Not only did the event lose $150+ from the missing attendances, but we ended up with excess bubbly and foods.

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: February 16

The February meeting will focus on Mediterranean cheeses, presented by Chris Banker. We would love it if you bring Mediterranean-inspired dishes and beverages to go with the theme!

This meeting will be held at 6:30PM on Tuesday, February 16, at 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 South side of the building (same room as Bix' memorial). 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 as soon as possible so we can get an accurate headcount! RSVP here:

January meeting recap: Cheese-versary and Bubbly Pairing!

What a fantastic way to ring in the New Year and celebrate Queso Diego's 5th anniversary! Thank you to Chris Banker for founding Queso Diego, our new Board of Officers, everyone who attended the event and brought something delicious to share, and especially Brian Trout and Alyssa Humbert for creating such tasty pairings!

Cheeses #1-4 came frome Venissimo
Cheese #5 (Picolo) came from Smallgoods (find them on Sundays at the La Jolla Open Aire Market)
Prosecco, Champagne, and Moscato came from SD Wine Co

Queso Diego booth at the Fermentation Festival

(Click article to enlarge)

Unusual Cheese You Won't Find in Your Local Shop - Part 3

By Jeffree Wyn Itrich, Queso Diego Member since 2012

Finishing up on our series covering cheeses made from unusual milks (by U.S. standards but by no means unusual in some other countries), we’ll take a look at cheeses made from camel milk and moose milk. 

Camel Milk Cheese

Camel’s milk is relatively low in fat, so the yield is low as well and it’s near impossible to coagulate the milk for cheesemaking.  But, cheese can be made with it and, where there’s a will, there’s a whey. Due primarily to today’s technology, camel’s milk can be coagulated using vegetable rennet and camel rennet.  (Veal rennet is not effective.)

In the US, it’s very costly to raise camels for milk production because female camels must be at least four years old before they can be bred and then the gestation period is 13 months.  They will only produce milk after giving birth to a calf and the suckling process begins.  A typical camel produces around two gallons of milk a day in two 90-second long bursts and only while a calf is in the act of nursing (from a different teat). And once you’ve got the milk, you can’t do much with it other than drink it unless you utilize the aforementioned veggie and camel rennet. 

While you might think you’d have to go to the mid-east to get some camel milk, there are a few camel dairies in the US, and we are lucky that one is in SD county and the other in Riverside county. As far as we know, none of them are selling cheese, but you can buy milk from them and try making your own with veggie rennet (good luck acquiring camel rennet).  Buy much of it and you better cash in on your 401k, the stuff is expensive! Desert Farms in Temecula sells raw or frozen camel’s milk, at $108 per 16 oz, kefir, dried milk powder and a variety of products.   A little closer to home in SD County, depending on where in the county you live, is the Oasis Camel Dairy Farm located between Ramona and Santa Ysabel where Hwy 78 and 79 meet. It’s not open daily; you must call ahead to schedule a visit.  Presently they sell only camel soap and body products but who knows, maybe you can talk them into selling you some milk to make some cheese. Be warned though, camel's milk has a distinct taste that's slightly saltier and more watery than other, more familiar milk varieties.

The current camel population in the U.S. is approximately 5,000 and is predicted to increase because scientists are touting camel's milk as the next superfood. Naturally a few American entrepreneurs and farmers are gearing up to meet the anticipated demand. Not surprisingly, the Amish are ahead of the camel curve and have spearheaded several camel dairy farms. They are major proponents of the healthy healing powers of camel's milk, especially its ability to help improve symptoms in children afflicted with autism and attention deficit disorder.


Much further from home, a company in Dubai Camelicious began selling camel’s milk cheese in January, 2013.  They produce three varieties, plus sell powdered camel’s milk which might work for making cheese.  At present Camelicious products do not seem to be available in the U.S. however they are hoping to expand to our shores. 

Tiviski Dairy in Mauretania uses the added-enzyme method to produce Caravane, a $30 per pound camel’s milk cheese now available in selected U.S. east coast markets. 

Camel milk is used to make Caravane, a low lactose brand of cheese found in South Africa. It’s a soft cheese with a white crust and is often used in cakes, dips, appetizers, numerous vegetable preparations, and typically paired with red wine. 


Moose Milk Cheese

Moose milk is highly touted by some nutritionists – the Ivan Susanin Sanitorium in Russia serves it to their patients – but you don’t have to be committed to enjoy the sublime flavor of moose milk cheese. You do, however, have to be a big spender: we’re talking $$455 per pound. Though moose aren’t rare, milking them is difficult. Milkers must spend up to two hours in complete silence in order to extract an average half  gallon per sitting. Despite Bullwinkle’s penchant for non-stop talking, female moose (meese?) prefer quiet while being milked.

Compared to cow’s milk, moose milk is higher in butterfat and solids while boasting elevated levels of aluminum, iron, selenium, and zinc. The Elk House (Älgens Hus) farm in Bjursholm, Sweden, is currently the world’s only volume producer of moose cheese and the amount made is rather small: just about 660 lbs annually. Three domesticated females named Gullan, Haelga, and Juna provide the “moose juice” required to make the cheese. They make three varieties of cheese: a rind-style, a blue and a feta. 

Dairy animal facts

  • Cattle produce 83 percent of world milk production, followed by buffaloes with 13 percent, goats with 2 percent and sheep with 1 percent; camels provide 0.3 percent. The remaining share is produced by other dairy species such as equines and yaks. 
  • About one-third of milk production in developing countries comes from buffaloes, goats, camels and sheep. In developed countries, almost all milk is produced by cattle.
  • Cattle produce about three-quarters of milk production in sub-Saharan Africa, about half in Asia – with most of the other half coming from buffaloes – and nearly all the milk produced in Latin America.
  • Milk from dairy species other than cattle represents 39 percent of milk production in Asia, 24 percent in Africa, 3 percent in Europe and 0.4 percent in the Americas; it is almost non-existent in Oceania.

Source:  Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations

Interview with a Cheesemaker - Gisela "G" Claassen

By Alyssa Humbert

G is the purveyor of our favorite local cheese making supply shop: Curds and Wine! Located off of Clairemont Mesa Blvd, stop in and get some great cheesemaking tips from G!

Why and when did you begin making cheese?
I started making cheese at the beginning of 2010, when I was originally thinking about opening Curds and Wine - though I did not have the full concept or the name at that point.  I knew I wanted to open a winemaking-on-site shop, and some of my friends were making cheese at the time.  One of my friends called me one night, frantic: “Do you have any rennet???”  I did not, and he said “No one sells cheese supplies in town!”  Thus the “Curds” part was born.

What's your favorite cheesemaking book?
Mary Karlin’s “Artisan Cheesemaking at Home” is definitely my favorite, second favorite is Gianaclis Caldwell’s “Mastering Artisan Cheese"

What's your favorite food made with cheese?
I put cheese on almost everything, definitely on salad every night; great on pasta and mac-n-cheese

What’s your favorite kind of cheese to make?
I love making blue cheeses, especially after Virginia Masters told me to ripen the smaller wheels made in crottin molds for just 2 weeks at room temperature and they would be ready!

Please share your favorite cheese recipe
(click recipe to view larger)

What’s in your cheese cave right now?
LOTS of cheese!  I have a 5-foot wine fridge with 8 pull-out wooden drawers, every drawer is loaded with wheels or quarters.  I just cut open a lemon “grating cheese” and my “Tipsy Cow” tomme wheel soaked in wine pomace before aging.  I also have Emmental, Bourbon Cheddar, parmesan-style and several other simple tomme wheels with various flavoring treatments. 

What kind of cheeses do you wish to make in the future?
I am planning to make an asiago, and might try a crescenza

Have you thought about selling your cheese?
Never!  I don’t want it to stop being fun.  It’s more fun to teach people to make their own and have them bring me samples :D

What do you do for work?
Owner of Curds and Wine home winemaking and cheese making supply shop in San Diego.  I clean buckets and carboys and help people trouble shoot their homemade wines and cheeses. 

Other than cheese, what are your others hobbies and interests?
Making wine (of course!) and gardening.  Both complement cheese!

How did you find out about Queso Diego?
I hosted the original meetings, Chris Banker asked me to help support his new cheese making group and I was happy to help out!  Then the group got a little too big for my space and moved to City Farmers’ Nursery

Now that you know more about G, stop by Curds and Wine and say Hi!

Cheese Recipe of the Month

By Alyssa Humbert
Chocolate-covered cheese bites: Would your special someone like these for Valentine's Day? Yay or Nay?

If Yay, you can find the recipe here: Chocolate-Covered Cheese Bites

Follow @QuesoDiego on Instagram

Our 2016 Queso Diego Historian, Lee Movic, has set us up on Instagram! Follow @QuesoDiego on Instagram, and don't forget to Like Queso Diego on Facebook, where Lee will be posting important club updates, as well as fun cheese news!

Writers needed

A special thank you to Jeffree Itrich for her 3rd and final installment of Unusual Cheeses! Look for a new series from Jeffree in next 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 McIsaac –

IT Chair
Chris Banker –

Lee Movic

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

February 11, 1:00PM - 4:00PM
Cheesemaking Fundamentals Class - $65
Curds and Wine 
7194 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92111
RSVP here:

February 11, 6:00PM
Pickle It! Hot & Cold Pickling Class - $25
4130 Park Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92103
More info here:

February 12, 4:30PM
AleSmith Chocolate vs. Cheese Pairing - $25
9990 AleSmith Court
San Diego, CA 92126
Buy tickets here:

February 14 and 15, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Chocolate + Bubbles - $50
The Headquarters - downtown San Diego
Del Mar
RSVP here:

February 16, 6:30PM
Queso Diego meeting
AleSmith Brewery
9990 AleSmith Court
San Diego, CA 92126
RSVP here:

February 19-20, 11:00AM - 6:00PM
French Cheese Pop-Up - Free
In front of Macy's Fashion Valley
7007 Friars Road
San Diego, CA 92108
More info here:

February 22, 6:00PM - 8:00PM
Cheese 101 - $50
Venissimo Del Mar
2650 Via de la Valle
RSVP here:

February 23, 6:00PM - 7:00PM
Only Oregon - $30
Bottlecraft North Park
3007 University Ave.
San Diego, CA 92104
RSVP here:

February 24, 6:00PM - 8:00PM
Wine World Wanderlust - $60
Venissimo Downtown
789 West Harbor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101
RSVP here:

February 24, 7:30PM
Queso Diego Officers Meeting
Chuck & Joanne West's lovely home
All Queso Diego members are welcome - bring something delicious to share

March 2, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Curd is the Word - $50
Venissimo Del Mar
2650 Via de la Valle
RSVP here:

March 5, 1:00PM - 4:00PM
Cheesemaking Fundamentals Class - $65
Curds and Wine
7194 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
RSVP here:

March 10, 1:00PM - 4:00PM
Cheesemaking Fundamentals Class - $65
Curds and Wine
7194 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
RSVP here:

March 12, 1:00PM - 4:00PM
Cheesemaking Fundamentals Class - $65
Curds and Wine
7194 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
RSVP here:

March 12, 9:00AM
Learn to Raise Goats - Free
City Farmers Nursery
4832 Home Ave.
San Diego, CA 92105
More info here:

March 26, 9:00AM
Intro to Beekeeping - Free
City Farmers Nursery
4832 Home Ave.
San Diego, CA 92105
More info here:

April 9, 9:00AM
Learn to Make Soft Cheeses - $20
City Farmers Nursery
4832 Home Ave.
San Diego, CA 92105
RSVP: 619-284-6358

April 13, 6:00PM - 8:00PM
Opposite Attract: A Scientific Look at Wine and Cheese Pairings - $55
Vinavanti Urban Winery
1477 University Ave.
San Diego, CA 92103
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
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