This will mark the third year of the monthly classes, which include a tasting and storytelling of at least four artisan cheeses. I also often bring in guest speakers, such as Wisconsin cheesemakers, dairy farmers, and industry leaders. Classes begin at 7 p.m. at the Firefly Coffeehouse at 114 N. Main St. in Oregon, Wis., just 10 minutes south of Madison. Each class includes a complimentary glass of wine, beer or beverage. Cost is $22 per class and tickets must be reserved in advance at www.wicheeseclass.com. All classes typically sell out.
The 2014 class line-up includes:
January 16: Gourmet Grilled Cheese
Warm up long January days and kick off the new year with an introduction to three gourmet grilled cheeses. We’ll taste each cheese separately, and then compare each when warmed in a grilled cheese sandwich. Special treat: Uplands Cheese’s seasonal Rush Creek Reserve and a rustic baguette as an appetizer.
February 11: Blue-Veined Cheeses & The Wines That Love Them
Taste four of Wisconsin’s best blue cheeses, paired with four different wines. Learn the mystery behind blue cheesemaking, and what makes one blue taste different from another. If you think you don’t like blue veined cheese, we may change your mind with this evening of perfect pairings.
March 13: Fondue Fun & Swiss Specialties
Start the evening with a communal pot of yummy fondue and crusty bread. Then taste and learn about four classic Swiss cheeses perfect for fondue. Leave with a booklet of recipes to make your favorite at home.
April 17: World Champion Cheeses
With the World Championship Cheese Contest held in Wisconsin just one month prior to this class, we’ll discover and taste four gold medal world winners. Learn what it takes to make an award-winning cheese.
May 13: Butter Makes Everything Better
A few years ago, Wisconsin updated its buttermaking licensing requirements, allowing a new generation of licensed craftsmen and women to make seasonal and artisan butters. Learn and taste four of the best with breads and accompaniments.
June 12: American Farmstead Cheeses
Perhaps some of the most eye-appealing and palate-pleasing cheeses are those hand-crafted on the same farm as where the animals are milked. Learn the stories and taste four of the best farmstead cheeses made in America today.
July 15: Summer Break: Sassy Cow Ice Cream
Take a summer break and celebrate national ice cream month with four local ice creams from Sassy Cow Creamery. Learn about the process of making farmstead ice cream and submit an idea for your favorite flavor. We’ll pick the most original and have it custom made for this class.
August 21: Pasture-Based Cheeses
Pasture-grazed cheeses are just one Wisconsin’s claims to fame, thanks to three seasons of green grass perfect for animals to eat. We’ll taste four seasonal cheeses, each made only when animals are grazing on grass.
September 16: Wisconsin Women Cheesemakers
In the past 10 years, more than a dozen women have entered the Wisconsin cheesemaking scene, winning awards and changing the face of American artisan cheese. Taste and hear the stories of four of the best women-inspired cheeses.
October 14: Amuse Bouche Cheeses
Looking for the perfect appetizer? Look no further than artisan cheese combined with original ingredients. We’ll learn how to make and taste four unique one-bite appetizers using artisan cheese.
November 13: Cheesecake and Dessert Cheeses
Start the evening with cheesecakes made locally. Then continue with tasting and learning about cheeses perfect for dessert. Learn how to make a cheese board for the end of your favorite meal.
December 9: Ultimate Wisconsin Cheddar Throwdown
A new era of Wisconsin Cheddar has emerged in the past decade, with more cheesemakers moving to artisan aged and bandaged Cheddars. We’ll taste three aged Cheddars from one to 15 years, as well as a reserve Bandaged Cheddar.
All classes are for sale individually, as well as in a season package at: www.wicheeseclass.com. I look forward to seeing you there!