Start Your Own Curd Club
The only thing better than bellying up to a lip-smacking piece of cheese is doing it with others. As vice president of Queso Diego, San Diego’s ever-growing cheese club, I can vouch for that firsthand. To date, there are 141 members in our club, and all of us actively engage in every opportunity to share cheese experiences.
Queso Diego began as a small gathering of friends, local cheesemakers, and cheese enthusiasts connecting through a Google forum created by current president Chris Banker. The group was established to encourage some healthy cheese discussion and to serve as a resource for the “cheese curious.” We soon found ourselves yearning to meet, to put faces to names, to hear our own voices, and to share our homemade cheeses. With that, a group of enthusiasts met to discuss the scope of cheese and cheesemaking.
In August of 2011 we held our first formal meeting. At that time, we nominated officers and asked members to come up with an official name for us curd nerds. As it turned out, a reader at my blog had suggested the name “Queso Diego”; our members chose it by an overwhelming majority.
With our new title and some structure now beneath our belts, Queso Diegans began to attend regularly scheduled gatherings on the third Tuesday of each month. Meetings take place potluck style: members often bring their homemade cheeses or other artisan brands to share. It didn’t take long for others in the city to find out that a “drinking group with a cheese problem” existed and was meeting routinely around San Diego. As a result, our club generated much interest in a small window of time. With the club’s growth came further organization.
Earlier this year members voted to initiate membership charges. Today there is an annual membership fee of $20, which includes access to the online cheesemaking forums, entrance to all club meetings and activities, a 10 percent discount with several local cheese vendors, and, finally, a real cheese support group.
Our meetings generally run about two hours and always include an educational topic about cheese, a pairing, or an activity. This past April we introduced a grilled-cheese–off to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month. For September we arranged a mozzarella-making class, followed by a pizza-making activity where members assembled and baked their pies using their freshly made cheeses.
Queso Diego members have also taken an active role in promoting farmstead and artisanal cheeses within the San Diego community. Most recently, we played host to our first cheesemaking competition, which took place at this year’s San Diego County Fair alongside the winemaking category.
What began as a gathering of cheese lovers has rapidly evolved into a thriving social organization where members can discuss the complexities and glory of cheese with abandon. In other words, it’s a place where no one grows weary of listening to incessant cheese chatter.
For more information go to QuesoDiego.com
Written by Ringo Firefly Photography by Larry A. Stein