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

Happy 2016 Queso Diegans!

New things are in store for Queso and we need your help! 

First - we urgently need to find a new meeting space for our club. With Farmer Bill focusing on his health, we will no longer be meeting at City Farmers Nursery. Please consider your resources and networks to help us find an appropriate space we can meet (food and liquor allowed, presentation space, etc). Suggestions welcome at:

Second - Queso Diego is currently without a Vice President. While we're not panicking yet, this is not a sustainable model for the future of the club. Typically, the Vice President succeeds into the Presidency the following year. Without a VP, the future of the club is at risk. We need a Vice President not only to assist in planning and running the monthly meetings, but to keep the club going.

Thanks for electing me your 2016 Queso Diego President. 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: January 19

To celebrate the 5th 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 Arrival 
7:00pm Start

First Unitarian Universalist Church
4190 Front Street
San Diego, CA 92103

$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 to share at the start of the meeting. Please bring your Queso Diego taster glass to cut down on waste.
Parking can be found on the street or in the UCSD medical center parking lot (next to the church) for $5. Street parking is very limited, as this area is almost entirely residents-only.  Ridesharing is always encouraged. 

RSVPs are required and spots are running out! RSVP here:

Queso Diego booth at the Fermentation Festival

The San Diego Fermentation Festival is on Sunday, January 31 from 10:00AM to 5:00PM. We will be having a Queso Diego booth where we will be demonstrating mozzarella pulling and giving information about our club and membership!

We need volunteers to sign up for 2-hour shifts to help with the booth. It's going to be a fun event to socialize with other Queso Diego members and help the club! Please sign up for a spot here:

December meeting recap: Holiday party!

Thanks to everyone who contributed delicious food and drink to share at the December holiday party! It was a fun evening at Chuck and Joanne West's beautifully decorated home. A special Thank You to everyone who donated to our successful raffle fundraiser and especially our generous sponsors:

City Farmers Nursery
Venissimo Cheese
Curds & Wine
New England Cheese Company
Brothers Provisions
The Ugly Dog
Bottles & Wood
Edible San Diego
Julian Ciderworks
Smallgoods Cheese & Provisions 
California Artisan Cheese Guild

Unusual Cheese You Won't Find in Your Local Shop - Part 2

By Jeffree Wyn Itrich, Queso Diego Member since 2012

This is part 2 of Jeffree's feature looking into Unusual Cheeses! If you missed the first part, you can find it here: December 2015 newsletter

Yak? Yep, hard Durkha or Chhurpi cheese made from yak milk is pretty popular in the Tibetan areas of China, India, Nepal and Bhutan. If you like gnawing for hours on something akin to cheese-flavored resin (not that it tastes like resin, rather it is as hard as resin), it might be worth flying west to find this unusual foodstuff. Central Asian cheesemakers wrap the yak milk curd in cloth and press it to extract the water. Then they lay it out to cure at room temperature for two to three days. When it dries out the cheesemaker slices it and allows it to dry further in the sun or in a low heat oven or over a wood fire. The result is an earthy flavored cheese hard enough to break teeth. Despite its reputation as one of the world’s most rigid cheeses it’s supposed to be quite tasty. Not sure how you’d eat it without jeopardizing your dental work, maybe suck it like a hard candy? Its other remarkable quality is that Chhurpi lasts many years. If hard Chhurpi is as old as 4 to 5 years, it is called chhurpupu. Stored properly in yak skin (mongnang), hard Chhurpi can be consumed even 20 years later. Interesting side note: the yak is the male of the species so technically it should be called “Nak” cheese, after the female.

And now for the downright bizarre……. 
Casu Marzu
cheese of Italy is definitely one of those acquired tastes enjoyed by a limited fan base. It’s not for the faint of heart because it’s served with live maggots. Yep, you read that right -- LIVE maggots. Here’s the story of this strange cheese: For centuries sheep farmers in Sardinia have made pecorino cheese and left it to rot and attract flies. When the flies’ eggs hatch, the “transformation” takes place and the cheese becomes Casu Marzu, maggot-infested cheese. Apparently fans of this oddity consume it with great passion and savor the distinctive aftertaste that lasts for hours. You’ll never find it for sale in the U.S. It’s illegal here. 

Not to be outdone, the Germans have their own version of an eccentric, why-would-you-want-to-eat-that cheese – Milbenkasse. It’s produced in Wurchwitz from quark. Cheesemakers intentionally let it sit among dust mites for several months, even providing rye for the mites to snack on. Seriously, I couldn’t make this up if I tried. The mighty mites excrete an enzyme that ripens the cheese progressively turning it yellow then red-brownish then black, at which point it’s eaten, including the mites. It’s supposed to taste both bitter and zesty and is considered a cure for allergies to house dust. Apparently the town of Wurchwitz takes their cheese quite seriously. They erected a mite-shaped memorial. In the hollow base are samples of their beloved cheese for visitors to try. 


Interview with a Cheesemaker - Chris Banker

By Alyssa Humbert

I thought it quite fitting to select Chris Banker for our inaugural "Interview with a Cheesemaker" column, since he's the Founder of Queso Diego!

Why and when did you begin making cheese?
I began making cheese in 2010.  Bix had offered to run a free cheesemaking class for members of QUAFF (my homebrewing club).  The idea of making my own cheese interested me so I attended the class.  All of the excited attendees joined together to put in a group order for discounted cheesemaking kits from New England Cheesemaking Supply.  Curds and Wine had not yet opened at this point, so the only option for supplies was mail-order, and the group buy got us a great discount.  Once I got the kits in the mail, I enjoyed making cheese and decided to get into cheesemaking as a serious hobby.  

What is your favorite cheesemaking book?
I really like Mary Karlin's Artisan Cheesemaking at Home.  It goes far beyond the basics and provides a lot of unique and interesting recipes.  

What's your favorite food made with cheese?
Mac n Cheese

What’s your favorite kind of cheese to make?
I really like making Chevre because it is so easy to make and such a flexible cheese to mix with herbs and spices, and to use in other cooking.  Even though there are lots of cheeses I enjoy eating more than chevre, its simplicity and flexibility make it the cheese I make most often.  

Please share your favorite cheese recipe

What’s in your cheese cave right now?
I have a blue cheese in my cheese cave right now and I hope to get some more hard cheeses going soon.  

What kind of cheeses do you wish to make in the future?
I'd like to make some more gouda and get a parmigiano started.  I also won some candidum cultures at the holiday party and plan to get back to doing some more soft-ripened cheeses.  

Have you thought about selling your cheese?
No, I plan to keep cheesemaking a hobby for the foreseeable future.  

Why did you decide to start Queso Diego?
After I started making cheese, I got very interested in cheesemaking and was looking for resources to ask questions.  I knew there were a couple people like Bix and Gisela who were very knowledgeable who I could turn to for help, and I felt that it would benefit other people if I got a club going for discussion of cheesemaking, rather than just asking my questions direclty to the experts.  I started a Google Groups email list and got the experts I knew about to join, along with a lot of other new and experienced cheesemakers.  

Other than cheese, what are your others hobbies and interests?
I have a wide variety of hobbies and interests.  I play tuba with a couple of groups both professionally and as a hobby, and also play bass trombone.  I brew beer, cider, mead, and wine, and I was recently named 2015 Best Homebrewer in San Diego by West Coaster magazine.  I enjoy cooking, roasting coffee, and curing and smoking meats. I am involved in mountain biking, road biking, dirt biking, and off-roading, and I do all my own repairs and maintenance on my bicycles, cars, and motorcycles.  I also enjoy photography, snowboarding, and kickball.  For my day job, I work as a software engineer on satellite communication systems.  

Cheese Recipe of the Month

By Alyssa Humbert
One of my favorite restaurants in San Diego is PrepKitchen Little Italy, so it was an easy choice when my boss asked me where I wanted to go for our Christmas lunch. While there, she ordered us their Bacon Wrapped Dates with blue cheese & arugula. Well, I couldn't stop thinking about them, so for New Year's Eve, I made bacon-wrapped homemade chevre stuffed dates, which were surprisingly easy to make:

Tips: Next time, I would bake for longer and maybe a finishing drizzle of maple syrup, because I LOVE that sweet-and-savory combo!

Writers needed

A special thank you to Jeffree Itrich for her 2nd installment of Unusual Cheeses!

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:

President – Alyssa Humbert –
Treasurer – Chuck West –
Secretary – Don Rutherford
Membership Chair – Sandy McIsaac –
IT Chair – Chris Banker –
Historian – Lee Movic

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

January 9, 12noon
Second Saturdays with Venissimo Cheese - $20
Thorn St. Brewery
3176 Thorn Street
San Diego, CA 92104
No tickets necessary. While supplies last.
More info here:

January 12, 6:00PM - 8:00PM
Ale to the Cheese! Craft Beer, Fine Cheese, and Smart Science - $55
Green Flash Cellar 3
12260 Crosthwaite Circle
Poway, CA 92064
More info here:

January 14, 6:00PM
Making Meat: Sausage Making Class - $40
S&M Sausage & Meat
4130 Park Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92013
More info here:

January 14, 6:00PM - 8:00PM
Desserts and Beer Tasting - $20-$30
San Diego Museum of Man
1350 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
More info here:

January 14, 7:00PM
January Queso Diego Officers Meeting
Chuck & Joanne West's house
Open to all Queso Diego members - Please bring a drink or dish to share

January 19, 6:30PM
Queso Diego Cheese and Champagne Pairing 5th Anniversary Party - 
$10/member, $15/non-member
First Unitarian Universalist Church
4190 Front Street
San Diego, CA 92103

January 27, 6:00PM - 7:30PM
Curd is the Word class - $50
Venissimo at the Headquarters
789 West Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101
More info here:

January 31, 10:00AM - 5:00PM
San Diego Fermentation Festival - $20
Coastal Roots Farm
450 Quail Gardens Drive
Encinitas, CA 92024
More info here:

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 13, 1:00PM - 4:00PM
Cheesemaking Fundamentals Class - $65
Curds and Wine
7194 Clareimont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92111
RSVP 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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Cost: Discount at your business for Queso Diego members (usually 10%)

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