Monday, January 3, 2011

What I Learned About Cheese in 2010

Gloves at a cheese factory in Wisconsin

Earlier this evening, as I was nibbling some Keswick Creamery feta from the back of the fridge, I took a little scroll down memory lane to review all the posts I wrote in 2010. I started with January, when I was not even a year into this blog – and I had to laugh when I saw how tiny the photos were.

I got a little nostalgic, reviewing my year in cheese. So many faces came back into focus – like Debbie Mikulak of Amazing Acres, my first brush with a local cheesemaker. When I sampled her Sea Smoke one evening at Reading Terminal Market, I knew I had to meet her. She co-hosted one of my first tastings, and since then, we’ve teamed up for several more. Debbie is a cheesemaker who is taking Philadelphia by storm. Her Sea Smoke is probably my favorite discovery of the year.

And then I kept scrolling, and Ezekial Ferguson's mug popped up. He was the first cheesemonger to reach out when I first started blogging. When I began receiving his “anonymous” comments – always in lower case, full of gusto – I never imagined I would end up interviewing him formally, as a guest blogger for Di Bruno Bros.

My weekly Di Bruno posts started back in May. By October, I was pulled into the cheese media vortex to attend a cheese tour around Wisconsin. I really never expected to be on a leather-lined bus, snapping photos of jersey cows and meeting some of my favorite cheesemakers on the planet, like Andy Hatch and Mike Gingrinch of Uplands, and George Crave of Crave Bros.

You know how some people are music groupies? I discovered my own little source of fandom when I sat next to George Crave at a dinner in rural Wisconsin, and I kept thinking, “OMG, this is the guy who makes such good mascarpone!” I could hardly concentrate on my cutlet.

So, here’s my little feta-covered revelation: I love the people of the cheese world. Yes, yes, I lovvve cheese, but really, I love the folks I’ve met through this project. They are so much nicer than the rock’n roll crowd I used to know in my former life, as a backup singer.

You think I’m kidding.

I’ve learned this in 2010: I would rather hang out in a make room or at the cheese counter than in a crowded bar. I would rather talk about Max McCalman’s latest book than Sufjan Stevens. I like cheese road trips more than riding in a band van or an ambulance across Europe. I like big wheels of cheese better than amplifiers.

My life is completed by cheese – pull out the hankies now! – and it’s a funny thing to say, but I hope I never get tired of it. I hope I never eat all the cheese there is to eat, because yearning for the next one keeps me going…writing everyday, venturing deeper into the world.

So, what are my hopes for 2011? I want to meet you! Whoever you are, staring at your screen. I hope I run into you at a cheese counter. They are the best places to hang out – the air is full of spores, the mongers are chatty, and behind all those wheels of artisanal goodness is some dedicated man or woman who just wants to make a spectacular snack.

It's kinda like hanging out at the library. Musty, friendly, full of quirky birds.  Good books, good cheese -- it’s all the same juju.


  1. Debbie is thee sweetest and the perfect person to have your first local cheesemaker-brushing with.

    I really adored this post, especially because I feel the same way. There is something special about meeting the people who have pushed their muscle power into their personal, perfected product. Although I adore many people behind fine products (i.e. chefs, brewers, bakers), there is something different and special about cheesemakers!

    So, continuing lovin' that cheese (didn't doubt you would) and hope to share a cheese plate very soon with you!

  2. As a budding artisan cheesemaker ... I love reading your blog! I enjoy your enthusiasm for great and unique cheeses. Keep posting and I'll keep reading!

  3. Thanks for your blog! Love reading it and learning from you!

  4. Thanks so much for your comments, Amy Marie, Brenda, and Toni. It's a pleasure to hear from you. Big love. Sigh.

  5. Thank you so much for visiting my blog this morning and for the sweet comment. What an honor ... I am thrilled! :D

  6. I live across the street from Chez Formage and since you told me about this blog I have become a frequent visitor!

  7. It is, indeed, an incredible cheese community! Love your blog and hearing the latest from my home state of PA. Hope our paths cross sometime soon...Fancy Food, ACS...