Say Cheese!

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Written by Emily Watkins

We Love This Dairy Indulgence

Cheese! Glorious cheese! Remember that commercial? It is glorious, and when you pair it with red wine, the glories are magnified.

My wine club recently met to taste cabernet sauvignon and cheese. We received nine amazing cheeses from local vendors to pair with the wine. Needless to say, we were in heaven.


LeeAnn Zubay, owner of Zzest Market downtown, says that cabs can be difficult to pair with cheese because there can be such a variety of flavors that are present in the wine. One cheese that she gave us for our tasting was Cloud Cap from Cascadia Creamery in Trout Lake, Washington. Zubay says, “It is inspired by the Welsh cheese Caerphilly. It has a mottled, slightly bloomy rind with aromas of earth and forest floor. The paste is soft, yet crumbly; you may notice slight citrus notes, definite grassy, hay flavors and mushroom closer to the rind. I chose this for a cab because of the mushroom hay notes.” This cheese had a fantastic soft center and a tanginess that paired well with the wine.

Another cheese Zubay recommends with cabernet is Gruyere Surchoix, which is an Alpine-style, washed-rind, cow’s milk cheese. She says this is a multiple award-winning cheese handmade in small batches in Wisconsin. She says, “Surchoix wheels are aged for at least nine months, resulting in this luscious cheese with a creamy paste and crunchy crystals. It is buttery with a meaty richness, and an extraordinary nutty, mushroomy flavor.” Again, the mushroom flavor goes well with cabernet, and Zubay tips that it will go especially well if the wine has some fruit notes to it. She said that this would be “wonderful with apples or crusty bread” and is “also a good melting cheese for fondue or grilled cheese.”

We took a chance with a blue cheese that might not normally go well with a cabernet. The Blue Jay that comes from Sheboygan, Wisconsin “is super interesting” with some buttery notes. It has a bit of a piney flavor that comes from crushed juniper berries that are infused throughout the cheese. Zubay says that it “is a little on the bold side so it also should be able to stand up to a cab.” And it did. 


Dawn Makarios at Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls contributed to our glorious cheese selection with Sartori Montamore. She encouraged me to read about it on their website: “Like a new romance, this sweet, creamy and fruity cheese begins with a deliciously inviting appearance and finishes with a playful, tangy bite. It is named with deep affection for the gorgeous Dolomite mountains that tower with breathtaking beauty above the Sartori hometown of Valdastico, Italy.” Ah, yes. 

We also got to try a cheese made in Faribault called Jeff’s Select Gouda, from Ferndale Market. This cheese has won a number of prizes, and it won our hearts as well.


I noticed a little crunch in some cheeses before but did not know what it was. Like in the Gruyere from Zzest, Ethan Schandelmeier, meat department manager at the People’s Food Co-op told me that we would find “crystals” in the Beemster Vlaskaas Gouda that he donated for our tasting. He described this gouda as smooth and interesting. The Beemster website says, “Vlaskaas was historically made only once a year, during the flax harvest festival…It’s buttery and semi-soft with unique sweet-milk flavor, notes of almond and a touch of sharpness that adds depth.” 

We tried Cello Copper Kettle Parmesan from People’s Food Co-op. According to the Cello Cheese website, “Parmigiano Reggiano is known as the king of cheeses. Cello Copper Kettle Parmesan starts with fresh milk heated in a traditional copper kettle and ages for 16 months to develop the complex fruity and nutty notes reminiscent of cooked caramel. (It) has the rich, nutty authentic flavor of Grana Padano. Its crunchy texture and robust flavor are the result of brining in natural sea salt and aging in a temperature controlled environment.”


Certified Cheese Master Karen Lange works at Hy-Vee West Circle Drive. She recommended two cheeses. She says, “Presidents Brie is a well-known brand of soft ripened cheese. It has a creamy, buttery taste with a slight white mushroom finish, making this cheese a perfect match for most jams and chutneys. The fruity taste of cabernet sauvignon would only compliment the buttery richness of the Brie.” I spread a mango chutney on the Brie, which made for a beautiful presentation as well as a delicious combination of sweet and salty.

The second cheese that she recommended was Black Creek three-year cheddar. Lange says, “Its rich, full flavor with a sharpness but also a creamy finish makes this cheese a perfect match for a cabernet. It allows the savory flavors of the wine to shine. My favorite part of aged cheese is the tyrosines: These give the cheese a bit of a crunch. Cheddar is always a safe bet to put on a cheese tray; most if not all people enjoy the great taste of cheddar.”


A wine and cheese tasting party is a great way to gather with old friends but also can lend a structure to a party where people don’t know each other very well. There are many ways to set it up. You can do all the work as the host, deciding on a theme and the wines and cheeses, or you can ask all your guests to contribute wine or cheese.

Our group usually focuses on the wines, with food that is delicious but plays a supporting role. I decided to add the focus on the cheese to this occasion as well. We have been working our way through a book called “Drink This: Wine Made Simple” by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl. She includes chapters on nine different varietals of wine and provides information about the wine, the food it pairs well with, the tasting “markers” or flavors and scents you might find in the wine. She recommends setting out small dishes of these markers so that you can sniff and taste to try to pick out the certain scents and tastes. Having a lot of variety in the flavors of the cheeses helped to enhance our enjoyment of the wine.

When you host your wine and cheese tasting, provide paper and pencils so that your guests make notes and bring them home. Serve bread or crackers, and it’s most helpful if the flavors in them don’t overpower the cheese. Fruit, such as grapes, berries, apples and dried apricots or figs are beautiful and taste delicious with both wines and cheeses.

A Valentine’s Day card I recently saw says, “I love you as much as I love cheese, and that is an awful lot.” Share the love. Pass the cheese, please.


Emily Watkins is a personal trainer and writer in Rochester.



More Women on the Move

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Written by Brittney Marschall

A Renewed Grassroots Organization

While many females have held influential roles in Southeast Minnesota over the years, opportunities for more women to pursue leadership positions are ample as the area grows. 

More Women on the Move, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization, is dedicated to empowering women committed to inclusive, equitable, healthy communities and seeking and supporting women to run for elected office. The group strives to help women explore a variety of leadership positions throughout the community, regardless of their area of interest or expertise. 

The success of the original Women on the Move group, in its efforts to encourage more women to run for office and seek leadership roles, inspired the renewed More Women on the Move group to replicate that success as the Rochester group progresses.



Winter in the City

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Written by Renee Berg

A plethora of options to do with kids.

Rochester has long been known as a great place to raise a family. What makes it great? For one, there is a lot to do in the area. I researched community offerings and composed an overview of some of the best activities for you and your kiddos this winter. And luckily, there’s something for children of all ages.


Quarry Hill Nature Center is a go-to place in spring, summer and fall, and winter is no different. Layer on your gear and head to the nature center. Then it’s a tough choice—do you prefer cross country skiing or snowshoeing? Get your equipment and head out on Quarry Hill’s more than 8 miles of groomed trails with varying levels of difficulty from beginner to expert.

If raucous fun is more your game, grab your sleds and head to Rochester’s famous Judd Park for sledding, or get in the car and head to Stewartville for snow tubing at Ironwood Springs Christian Ranch. For tubing, register online in advance and share the hill with up to 80 fellow snow lovers. Tubers of all ages are welcome and tubing time runs two hours. Pack your own snacks and cocoa (hot water and cups are provided) and sit in the warm chalet bragging about your tubing exploits.



Curling Sweeps the Globe

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Written by Holly Galbus


From the Gangneung Curling Centre in South Korea to the Rochester Recreation Center

There’s a growing interest in Rochester for the sport of curling, a game often referred to as “chess on ice.” The Curling Club of Rochester formed in August 2017 with a kickoff event attended by more than 100 people. 


Kelsey Schuder, board president of the club and curling instructor, says there is great interest in the sport of curling locally, but what is needed is a dedicated curling ice facility, a place where participants can play on ice prepared specifically for the game. 


Schuder says the reasons for the sport’s gaining popularity are numerous. “Literally anyone can curl,” she says, “even before the age of 6. And I know some 90-year-olds who play. Also participants do not need to be athletically inclined to play.” 



Costa Rica, Baby!

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Written by Dawn Sanborn


For several years now, my daughter and I have taken a vacation together around the time of my birthday in January—a welcome reprieve from the brutal  MINNESOTA winters. In January 2017, we headed to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.


Our travel there took a long time and included both a plane and a bus ride. We arrived after dark in Cahuito, the resort town we were staying in, and we were famished. 



Community Begins with Coffee

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Written by Joy Blewett

Six local coffee shops inspire Rochester.

We love coffee. More than coffee, though, we love a welcoming environment in which to drink coffee, engage in great conversation and build community. Around Rochester there are coffee shops with unique appeal and flair  with missions to build community. 


I first met Rochester Women magazine Publisher Jorrie Johnson at Dunn Brothers Coffee on South Broadway. As a Rochester Greeter representative, she welcomed me and another gal to the city with a packet of goodies and wonderful conversation.  I learned that she was managing editorial content for Rochester Women magazine, and she learned that I was an aspiring writer. 

Dunn Brothers is known for its imported coffee from around the world, as well as in-house roasting. Dennis and Lynn Wong own the three Dunn Brothers Coffee locations in Rochester, as well as Zumbro River Catering. Their location on Elton Hills has a large cafe and is known for their breakfasts with fresh eggs and quality Boar’s Head meats. When I was new to Rochester, this location became a great comfort to me. Using their Wi-Fi, I stayed in touch with family when I didn’t have internet service at my house, and I enjoyed food and drinks in front of a cozy fireplace. Since then I have enjoyed breakfast or coffee with friends, and taken in the local artists’ work showcased on their walls.



Flock of Readers

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Written by Anna Matetic


Lynette Perry, an adult program coordinator at the Rochester Public Library, meets me in a conference room on the second floor of the library. It seems a large space for a book group, but it is the perfect size for the Night Owl book group. “I currently have 24 people in it,” says Perry. “My max was 27 at one point.” 


While members of the Night Owl book group read the same book, other groups pick a theme instead of a specific book. The Mystery book group is one of these.

 “They might all read a cozy mystery set in a bed and breakfast,” says Perry. “They can all find one that they want and read it and then talk about the ones that they read.” There is even a cookbook group where members find a recipe and bring the food to the meeting.

“It’s a great way for people to share their interests and their time with the library and with other people,” she says. There are currently eight different book groups run by the library.



The Kindness Diaries

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Written by Joy Blewett

Leon Logothetis quit his corporate desk job and headed out across the world seeking kindness. He not only found kindness given to him, but he gave kindness. Logothetis wanted to discover if there were actually kind humans still out there.

“The Kindness Diaries” book and Netflix series (released in 2015) is changing the way people see each other, as well as what it means to show kindness to one another. Logothetis’ adventures take us across the world to different cultures, different climates, but with one thing all in common—humanity. 


As part of “The Kindness Diaries” book tour, Logothetis gave a presentation in Stewartville on August 30, 2017, organized by REACH coordinator James Parry of Stewartville High School and Middle School. About 200 people gathered in the Stewartville Performing Arts Center for this event. 




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Written by By Jorrie Johnson

Our City of Rochester’s resolution to be a compassionate city was signed on September 18, 2017. On Sunday, October 22, 2017, “People of all faiths and cultures were invited to experience diverse practices of compassion for the purpose of weaving healing and peace in our fractured world.” It was gorgeous Sunday afternoon, with rays of sunshine lighting the auditorium at Assisi Heights. Young and old, men and women, police officers and citizens, students and teachers, African, Asian, Caucasian, Indian and American were gathered for discussions around compassion. It was a pleasure to be surrounded by so much hope and peace in one room.

I lost a $50 Cub Foods gift card that my mom gave to my son for his birthday. I felt feelings of loss and disappointment. My 12-year-old son was silent as we walked, looking around on the ground, kicking the leaves hoping it was hiding underneath. He was really looking forward to going to the grocery store to buy whatever he wanted. I, too, was excited to have some extra funds to fill our cupboards with after-school snacks and maybe even a fine bottle of olive oil. This afternoon, I went to the grocery store to buy some ramen noodles (12 for $2.99) for after school snacks and supplies to make a huge crockpot of chili; however, I did not buy the olive oil. What I appreciate about today’s experience is being reminded of how it feels to want food, but not having the money. I am also reminded how forgiveness is a gift; he still loves me despite me losing his gift card. 

Beth Kosta and the crew at Community Food Response don’t ask questions when someone is in need of food (see page 21). They collect food from area restaurants to give without judgment. I have a couple of friends who volunteer with CFR regularly. In fact, Danielle Teal invited me to volunteer with her at CFR one Monday evening a few years ago. Times like those, when I am making a difference, I feel really good about myself. I love helping other people, and it makes me realize I do have so much and so much to offer. You, too, can make a difference in the lives other others through Community Food Response, The Salvation Army, United Way of Olmsted County, your faith community or service organization. 

In this Issue of Rochester Women magazine, we provide some ways to help you enjoy the holidays. When you are looking for the right holiday outfit, check out Samantha Erickson’s guide to surviving holiday fashion (page 15). If you’re not sure what to give someone this holiday season, read my holiday gift making and buying guide (pages 16-17). As you gather with your friends and family over the holiday season, remember to keep it simple. Try Emily Watkin’s beef brisket and punch recipes (page 28).

We hope you’ll join us on the trolley for Ladies Day Out to Olde Fashioned Christmas in Mantorville on Saturday, December 2 (see page 48). May you enjoy good friends and good cheer through the rest of this year!

With love,




The Jive Mill: Connecting Audience with Musician

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Written by Written and Photos By Joy Blewett



The Jive Mill, which opened its doors in June, began in 2012 as a house concert at the home of Noelle Tripolino Roberts, owner, and her husband, Christopher Roberts, manager. With the help of Joshua Poencet managing the physical space of the building and Carsten Earl creating ambience with lighting and sound, this team has created an experience between musician and audience that must not be missed. 


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