Sunday, May 22, 2016

New Cheese Geek Classes Announced

After teaching a small group cheese class last week, I discovered how much I enjoy sitting down with a few folks, cutting into some wheels of cheese, and taking a deep dive into a topic. So voila - a new series of what I'm calling "Cheese Geek Classes" have been born. Each class is limited to just eight people. We'll sit around a table, eat some cheese, study a topic in-depth and probably drink a beer or two. I hope you'll join me!

Here we go:

July 21 - Cheese Geek Class - The Art and Science of Aging Cheese
6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Firefly Coffeehouse, 114 N Main St, Oregon, WI

Join Jeanne Carpenter, American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional for a small-group study on the art and science of aging cheese. We'll explore four different types of cheese rinds and taste four of the very best artisan cheeses made in America today. Learn why cheesemakers add ash to surface ripened cheeses, why natural rinds are particularly tricky, and learn the difference between a cheese washed in beer and a cheese washed in whiskey. Tickets: $28 and seats must be reserved in advance. Limited to just 8 attendees. Includes glass of wine, beer or beverage of choice. Register at www.cheesetickets.com


August 23 - Cheese Geek Class - Learning the Lexicon of Cheese Flavors
6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Firefly Coffeehouse, 114 N Main St, Oregon, WI

Join Jeanne Carpenter for a small-group study on how best to describe the many flavors you taste in cheese. After this class you'll stop calling cheddar "sharp" (as Pat Polowsky, Wisconsin author of Cheese Science Toolkit would say: "A knife is sharp. Cheese is not.") We'll taste four unique American artisan cheeses and learn how to describe them using cheese descriptors such as brothy, roasted or herbal. Afterward, you'll be able to impress your wine snob friends with your new cheese lexicon. Tickets: $28 and seats must be reserved in advance. Limited to just 8 attendees. Includes glass of wine, beer or beverage of choice. Register at www.cheesetickets.com


September 29 - Cheese Geek Class - Understanding Crystals in Cheese

6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Firefly Coffeehouse, 114 N Main St, Oregon, WI

Join Jeanne Carpenter for a small-group study on how and why cheese crystals - those little flavor bursty bits from heaven - form in cheese. We'll study two types of crystals: calcium lactate and tryosine, learn why each forms in different types of cheese, and how cheesemakers encourage their growth. Plus, of course, we'll taste four different cheeses, with - you guessed it - crystal features. Is your mouth watering yet? Tickets: $28 and seats must be reserved in advance. Limited to just 8 attendees. Includes glass of wine, beer or beverage of choice. Register at www.cheesetickets.com

Monday, May 09, 2016

Beauty and Brains: Red Barn Cupola Wins Design Award

It's not often a cheese gets national recognition for its package design. But that's exactly what happened recently with Red Barn Cupola, a Wisconsin artisan cheese. Boasting both beauty and brains, Cupola is a 2016 American Package Design award winner along with brands like 3M, Target and Whole Foods. Pretty cool, huh?

This year's American Package Design Competition received 2,000 entries worldwide, placing Red Barn's winning entry among the best-designed and most innovative packaging in the food and beverage industry.

In case you're not familiar with Red Barn Family Farms, let me fill you in. The company was founded by Dr. Terry and wife Paula Homan in 2008. It consists of five farms in the Black Creek area, each selected for their ability to meet the “Red Barn Rules.” These rules revolve around rigorous quality, animal health, and operational requirements, linking excellence in what we used to call animal husbandry (but what today folks refer to as humane treatment of cows), to excellence in food quality.

Red Barn farmers are compensated with a pay rate for milk above and beyond the commodity market. This rate helps sustains their lifestyle of small, traditional dairy farming. Each farm must be family-owned and family members must perform the majority of the farm labor. Average herd size is 55 cows. Just like when I was a kid, cows are known and cared for by name and live longer lives than today's industry standard. Each farm is annually inspected and certified by the American Humane Association.

Milk from Red Barn farms is bottled and sold as fluid milk, or crafted into award-winning cheese at one of three Wisconsin creameries - Springside Cheese in Oconto Falls; Willow Creek Creamery in Berlin, and LaClare Farms in Pipe. Cupola is crafted at LaClare by U.S. Champion cheesemaker Katie Fuhrmann. The cheese is fruity and nutty with hints of caramel and toasted pineapple. In other words, it's amazing.

Cupola was named after the small structure at the top - or pinnacle - of traditional Wisconsin barns. A pinnacle cheese for Red Barn, Cupola is an American original that combines top-quality milk, a world-class cheesemaker, and a recipe perfected with the help of the Center for Dairy Research at UW-Madison over a three-year time period.

"Red Barn's mission is to honor and sustain excellent small family farms in Wisconsin," says company president Paula Homan. "We worked closely with Scott Mueller of Design Incites to create packaging that would communicate the tradition of excellence that our farms represent and the quality of the products they produce."

Congrats, Red Barn Family Farms, for dedicating your lives to rewarding dairy farmers for producing quality milk that's made into stellar cheese.