The Lady and I met Cindy Gaffney through Vintage Cheese of Montana’s CheeseMaker, Darryl Heap. Recently she visited with us here in Portland and I had the opportunity to sit down with Cindy and here in her own words is her “Cheese Journey”:
“I just turned fifty-nine, but am only a few years into my life as a cheesemonger. After much gratifying but frenetic time spent working in film production and web development, I went searching, at the age of fifty-five, for a way to earn a living that I would enjoy for the rest of life.
In April 2011, at a “Ferment Event” in the Berkeley Art Museum, I was introduced to the story of Cowgirl Creamery and admired the cheese-related lives of the people I met there. Within a few months, I was selling Cowgirl cheeses at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market in San Francisco and was soon hired as an official cheesemonger at the original Cowgirl shop in Point Reyes Station.
Over the last two years, I have earned a Certificate of Artisan Cheesemaking from the College of Marin, have taken many extraordinary classes at the Cheese School of San Francisco, and have worked with the most generous and accomplished people I’ve ever met. I’m especially grateful to everyone at Cowgirl Creamery for their willingness to initiate an ultra-novice monger into this deeply satisfying way of life.
Now I’m using my digital media skills to help promote small scale cheesemakers online and plan to spend the next year visiting as many as possible in the Americas and Europe. I’m calling it my ‘Aging Gracefully Tour’ and will document it on my blog, CiaoGemm.com.”
Here are her answers to my questions:
1. Your favorite cheese pairing.
I’m happy to have many undiscovered perfect pairings still ahead of me! To date though, it has been Fourme d’Ambert and Sauternes. Tasting these together was the first time I understood the experience of two flavors combining into an ideal and unique third one.
2. Create your favorite cheese plate with accompaniments.
Being devoted to experimentation, I may never have a favorite! However, as a lifelong Blues lover, I made myself a Blue Plate Special for an assignment in the last class I got to take under the inspiring guidance of the late Daphne Zephos. The Blue Plate Special would be fun for any blue-green mold fan. Included were as many milk types as I could find, paired with a 2011 Chateau Sigalas Rabaud Sauternes, Italian pears, and Marshall’s Farm honey.
The cheeses were: Gorgonzola Dolce Artigianale, Bleu Du Bocage CTO Pascal, Beillevaire, Rogue River Blue, Blu Di Bufala, Fourme d’Ambert, Colston Bassett Stilton, Roquefort Gabriel Coulet “La Petite Cave” and Cabrales.
3. Your favorite grilled cheese sandwich.
Never being much of a flesheater, I’ve enjoyed many variations on the grilled cheese sandwich. A do-it-myself favorite, though, is Gruyere with stone ground mustard on a dense seed encrusted bread.
4. Tell us one little known non-cheese related thing about yourself.
I’m a certified Scuba diver and have crewed on open ocean sailboats.
5. If you could have dinner with any famous person living or historical, who would it be and why?
Kurt Vonnegut. His own life and those of his characters are lessons in acceptance and making
the best of what we are given. Even sitting quietly with him would bring me joy.
Thanks, Cindy, for taking the time… The Lady will see you in Madison…