Darlings, the Cheese Ball has attracted so many incredible donations that we’re planning an auction on Saturday night at 10 p.m. If you’re coming to the party, check out the list below for a chance to bid on baskets, tastings, and cooking classes around Philadelphia. (We’ll also be raffling off some free stuff earlier in the night, including some Valley Shepherd cheese and a free subscription to Edible Philly.)
A huge thanks to this year’s donors. Almost all of these prizes have arrived unsolicited, which shows you how much the Philadelphia food community loves Sue Miller of Birchrun Hills Farm.
All of the proceeds from the Cheese Ball and auction will be used to seed Sue Miller’s upcoming Kickstarter campaign to build a cheese cave. Have a look at the list of auction items, and come get your number on Saturday night. We’re going to raise a cave! Here are the details, plus the auction line-up:
7:30-midnight, Ruba Club, 416 Green St., Philadelphia
Entry: a hunk of cheese (or a cheese pairing item)+10; cash bar, 21+
Auction Items to Benefit Birchrun Hills Farm (10 p.m.)
Yellow Springs Farm: 1 Goat Cheese CSA Share (13 bimonthly pick-ups)
Nectar: Chef Feury’s Tasting Dinner for 4 people
Di Bruno Bros.: Private After Hours Tasting for 8 people
Fair Food Philly: 2 tickets to Brewer’s Plate on March 9, 2014
Eulogy Belgian Tavern: Gift certificate
Weaver’s Way C0-op: Cheesy Gift Basket
Albert Yee Photo: Original photograph
Mike Geno: Two cheese portraits (prints)
High Street on Market: 2 seats at their Friends & Family Cheese Dinner, Feb. 4
Cook: Gift certificate
Birchrun Hills Farm: Local cheese & beer basket
Meadowset Farm: A tanned sheepskin
Southwark Restaurant: Gift certificate
1732 Meats: Bacon CSA (1 lb. of bacon, biweekly)
Denise Fike: 1 hour of on-the-spot fashion drawings for a wedding or special event
Three Springs Fruit Farm: half bushel of peaches & half bushel of Honeycrisp apples (gift certificate)
Salumeria in Reading Terminal Market: Gift Basket
Cherry Grove Farm: Cheese making class
Glass Light Studios: Hand-blown glass vase
Occasionette: Picnic-themed basket
A huge thanks to the following businesses that are donating edibles to the Cheese Ball: Metropolitan Bakery, Di Bruno Bros., Farm Fromage, Three Springs Fruit Farm, Meadowset Farm & Apiary, Calkins Creamery, and Weckerly’s Ice Cream.
With Cheese Ball II just days away, the dairy set on social media has been chatting outfits. Since so many people have emailed about appropriate attire, I thought I’d pull together a quick post with some choice fashion selections from the last Cheese Ball, back in January 2012. Of course, you’re welcome to wear a tux or gown, but jeans and barn boots are welcome, too. So are berets, body glitter, antlers, and anything that puts you in a cheese-loving mood.
Below, you’ll also find the schedule for the night of Cheese Ball II this Saturday, January 18. In addition to building a giant cheese board, we’ll be celebrating with door prizes, a roving ice cream cart, a cheese auction full of fabulous donations, and a midnight coronation of the King and Queen of Curd.
All proceeds from the ball and auction will go to Sue Miller of Birchrun Hills Farm to seed her upcoming Kickstarter campaign to build a cheese cave. That’s why we’re calling this year’s ball a “Cave Raising.” The outpouring of magnificent auction donations has been overwhelming, from cheese baskets to gift certificates from cheese retailers, local farms, and restaurants around Philadelphia.
Look for a full list of auction items later this week!
Cheese Ball II Schedule
Saturday, January 18, 7:30-midnight at Ruba Club, 414 Green St., Philadelphia
7:30 p.m. Doors Open (Entry is $10+a hunk of cheese)
8:30 Door Prize Drawings with Madame Fromage & Cheesemaker Sue Miller
10:00 Live Auction (Grand Prizes: A goat cheese CSA, a tasting at Nectar in Berwyn, PA, Brewer’s Plate tickets, a gift certificate to COOK, dinner for 2 at High Street Market, and an after-hours tasting at Di Bruno Bros.)
Midnight Coronation of King & Queen of Curd
It feels auspicious to start out the New Year with Munster Gerome. Before sitting down to write this, I did ten minutes of stretching in the dark, made myself a cup of hot vinegar tea, read the top food stories of 2013 in The New York Times and considered (briefly) a post on cleansing. Or cheese highlights of the past year.
Then I yawned.
Who wants to talk about digestion or reflect back on epic feta? (Kidding, there was no epic feta.) Moving forward, I want to eat more Munster Gerome with a chaser of gin.
This is going backward: over the holiday, I drove to Wisconsin with 12 cheeses to meet my brother for our last epic tasting of the year, and one of the cheeses in my cooler was, yes, Munster Gerome. We planned to studiously pair some of our favorite hunks and libations. Nerds do this.
We are nerds from birth. Even in childhood, we forced our parents to leave the house on Saturdays so we could tear the kitchen apart, then chose the most difficult recipes in our mother’s cookbooks to prepare for them as a “surprise.” This resulted in a lot of tortes.
I brought my brother Munster Gerome because it’s a fierce little cheese – the kind we love – and my brother has been on an Alsatian kick. He wanted to pair Gewürztraminer. I feel “meh” about Gewürtztraminer, but that’s probably because I spend all of my money in the dairy aisle and drink inexpensive hooch, while my brother spends all of his sheckles on wine — and pennies on cheese.
Our goal for 2014 is to teach each other to appreciate one another’s obsession.
Munster Gerome is a fudge pie with a rind that looks like leather from a burnt orange crocodile. Its taste is just as nasty: braised beef, boiled cabbage, sautéed onions, bacon. It’s basically a boiled dinner – but delicious.
I love a fudgy texture, and Munster Gerome is like raunch fudge. Between bites, you definitely need a swish of something bright and cleansing, especially if you eat it unadorned – assumably, the monks who developed this cheese in the 7th century ate it with beer.
After one bite, I knew we needed something bigger than wine. We’d run through a quick gin tasting upon my arrival – I’d sent my brother some Barr Hill as a gift, and he wanted to introduce me to a fave: Botanivore. A sip of those beauties had soothed after the long drive and left me feeling very settled against a caramel leather banquette.
And so, for a stinky cheese chaser, we shared a nip of Botanivore, a craft gin from St. George Spirits in California.
Lo, the stink dissipated. The taste of anise and mint minglied, turning my mouth from an onion drawer into a bud vase. It was a revelation!
And so, I share it with you. If you like strong cheese, ramp up from your Taleggio and your pretty Red Hawks. Pick up a pie wedge of Munster Gerome. Make sure it is quite ripe. Bring it home and stick it in a jar so that the fumes don’t kill your family.
Then, in late afternoon, when the sun is going down and the dirty snow has soured you on the idea of January, cut yourself a dab of Munster Gerome. Pull the best gin from your cupboard. Pour yourself a shot over a little ice. Give it a stir. And retire.
It’s a pairing we’ll not soon forget.
Note: My brother blogs — mostly about wine — at AndreDarlington.com. Our resolution for 2014 is to write about cheese and wine/spirits together. You can read more about our shared obsession over the coming months. Feel free to follow along or make recommendations.
Maybe you remember Cheese Ball 2012? Maybe you were there, circling the giant cheese board we built above a pool table where all of Philadelphia’s lacto-rati gathered to nibble and imbibe? It was the city’s greatest dairy potluck, a showcase of curd-driven love — attended by cheese lovers, cheese makers, cheesemongers, and even a few blog readers who drove down from NYC with favorite hunks from their state.
Yes, it’s finally happening again — on the night of Saturday, January 18 back at RUBA Club! Thanks for your patience, your inquiries, your prodding. I meant to host the ball again last year, then got swept away by book promotion. But believe me, I haven’t forgotten the fun we had or the mix of guests dressed in everything from tuxedos and ball gowns, to overalls and even capes. I hope you’ll come and bring a friend. Anyone who loves cheese is welcome at the Cheese Ball.
All you have to do is bring a cheese to share and $10 — the money will be donated to local cheesemaker, Sue Miller, to help her build a cheese cave (more details below) at Birchrun Hills Farm. That’s Sue on the right at the last Cheese Ball. Her Birchrun Blue was a big hit at the party, and her story is one that I have told many times. I think she’s making some of the state’s best raw-milk cheese.
Cheese Ball II, Sat. January 18, 2014
Time: 7:30 pm – midnight
Where: RUBA Club, 416 Green St., Philadelphia, PA 19123
Entry: Bring a cheese (or something to pair with cheese) +$10
Dress can be formal or cow-barn casual. Cash bar. No RSVP or tickets necessary. Questions: email@example.com
WHY A CAVE RAISING?
I’m calling on the Philadelphia cheese community to help raise a cheese cave for one of our own. Many of you know Sue Miller, of Birchrun Hills Farm, from local farmers’ markets where she sells her glorious Birchrun Blue, Fat Cat, Red Cat, and Equinox. Her stellar raw-milk cheeses are sold by Di Bruno Bros., Metropolitan Bakery, Fair Food Farmstand, and other local retailers. You can also find them on cheese boards around the Philadelphia, from Kennett to Talula’s Garden.
Sue and her family are life-long dairy farmers in Chester County, Pa. They started farming because they love animals, and they began making cheese in order to keep farming once milk prices dropped. Now they truck milk to a small off-site facility several times a week and age their cheese in a cave the size of a closet. In order to expand their business with their two grown sons, the Millers need to build. Financing a major building project when you’re self-employed is difficult. In 2014, Sue Miller plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign. I want to kick it into gear.
Let’s start raising this cave at Cheese Ball II!
Artisan cheese began appearing in my dreams back when I worked for a newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin, so it’s always a pleasure to write about dairy for The Inky (a.k.a. The Philadelphia Inquirer). Today I have a story on winter cheeses in the Food & Dining section, and I’m telling you because, honeys, I’m wildly excited about this year’s seasonal selection.
You can read my article on Philly.com — but be prepared. You may start panting.
These cheeses are fierce. They’re circus performers who juggle bark, booze, and flames.
Pick a hunk from each category — a bark-wrapped disk, a boozey floozy, and a torched charmer — and you will become misty-eyed, glitter-infected, swoony. Together, all of these cheeses are my campfire.
Who needs a piney wood when you can have spruce-wrapped Rush Creek Reserve?
Who needs a hot toddy or a hip flask when you can have Grande Marnier Coupe, a booze-infused Brie?
Who needs a fireplace when you have Tomme Brulée?
What’s a holiday cheese board if not a dream of the place where you’d like to be? My city self cajoles its country self through wild and exuberant dairy.
Happy holidays, everyone! Keep your eyes peeled for news of Cheese Ball II! It’s happening on January 18, 2014. Save the date!