Mike Geno’s Cheese Map
Posted by tdarlington on Sunday, July 23, 2017 · 1 Comment
By now, you’ve heard me talk about my friend and neighbor Mike Geno, who paints cheese portraits. His studio is less than a mile from my house, and when I need a pick-me-up I wander over to bask in the light of his dairy-centric wall of food art.
This week, I visited him to discuss two important things: 1) he’s offering a summer sale of his paintings through August (details below) AND, 2) he’s almost finished with his cheese map!
A cheese map? Yassss, queen.
So, The Cheese Map
Two years ago, Mike set out to paint a wedge from every state. At the time, he’d painted hunks from eleven, but his patrons wanted more. A cheese from Alaska? Mike wasn’t sure. A cheese from Hawaii? He had to ponder.
Thanks to word of mouth and the power of social media, Mike’s project exploded as a hot topic on Istagram (follow him @mikegenostudio). Today, his map is nearly complete. He’s received cheese offerings from 43 states, mostly shipped to him on ice from cheesemakers.
Alaska? Uh huh. Cheesemaker Sarah Jepson in Dry Creek learned about Mike via Instagram (her handle is @milkmansfirstwife) and sent him a wheel of Winter Fury made with her hothouse peppers and the milk of her husband’s six cows. Her daughter-in-law Amaris also sent Mike a wheel of her Tuscan-style Pepato.
Hawaii? Oh, yes. Check out Ocean Brie-eeze, a black Brie colored with Squid Ink.
Obtaining cheese from warm-weather states has proven difficult, like Arizona. “Actually a cheesemonger at Di Bruno Bros. is from Arizona, and he reached out to Wendell and Rhonda Crow at Crow’s Dairy,” Mike recalls. The Crows agreed to send Mike a wheel of their peppercorn feta and were so touched by the connection that they are planning a trip to Denver later this month to meet him at the American Cheese Society (ACS) conference.
Winter Fury (Alaska)
“People who are farming all day or working in a cheese room don’t think about the art world,” Mike said, as he cut into a blue from Winter Park Dairy in Florida, a sweet and spicy little number called Black & Bleu with veins of ground black pepper. “Something about the cheese map has allowed me to connect with them,” he mused. “Representing their art in my art — on this map — there is this whole new level of relating to each other.”
So, what states are left for Mike to paint? Nevada. South Dakota. Wyoming. Kentucky. Louisiana. Mississippi. Wyoming.
If you know a cheesemaker in one of those states, contact Mike Geno (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Mike Geno’s Summer Sale
Through August, Mike Geno is offering a 15% discount on all of his original oil paintings, including his paintings of cheese, meat, bread, doughnuts, etc. If you’re a big spender, you can buy 3 and get the 4th for free. (One of Mike’s patrons owns 39, just sayin’. There are cheese lovers, and then there are CHEESE LOVERS.) Visit his website, explore the cheese map, and put a piece of original cheese art in your kitchen. Or boudoir.
Pssst…Mike Geno’s studio is one of the stops on September’s Cheese Journey to Philadelphia and Chester County. We still have a few spots left!
Filed under American Hotties, Gift Ideas, Uncategorized · Tagged with Alaskan cheese, cheese, Florida cheese, food art, gift ideas, Hawaiian cheese, Mike Geno, paintings, Philadelphia, portraits, Winter Fury
My American Cheese Project
Posted by tdarlington on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 · 2 Comments
Hello old friend, happy New Year to you! I hope you’re staying warm– maybe listening to some records and pondering a cozy fondue party with friends this weekend? It’s a great way to gather up everyone’s leftover cheese nubs from holiday boards and create some cheesy breezy entertaining.
Let me tell you about my New Year’s resolution. My goal is to eat a different American cheese each week. I’ve already started posting about it on Instagram (find me: @mmefromage), and I’m using the hashtag: #AmericanCheeseProject. I’ll share project updates and highlights here, too, but I’m finding that so many of you are on Instagram…why not? Also, you’ve probably noticed my posts here are less frequent — monthly now, instead of weekly. I’ve been working on another book, which will drop from the sky on April 17, 2018, so life around here feels pretty full. If you want to check out my next book, pop over to www.boozeandvinyl.com.
Yup. I have been listening to a LOT of records and ruining my liver.
Luckily, co-authoring a third cocktail book has driven me to crave more cheese (I like a cheese board when I imbibe). And I’m choosing to focus on American cheeses because, over the last few years, I’ve seen so many awesome looking newbies flash by in my periphery. For 2018, I promised myself a year-long gobble.
Here we are.
I want to tell you this, too. As an American, I find cheese to be one of the most hopeful things happening in this country! Particularly the upswing in small-batch cheesemaking. Hallelujah!
Since I wrote my first food-related book, House of Cheese, back in 2013, there’s been such an uptick in high quality hunks and new makers in the United States. Most people — even my neighbors! — still don’t realize this. Let’s change the perception of American cheese! Let’s broaden some horizons, lovers!
- Here’s a fromage fact to suck on: there are 900 artisan and specialty cheesemakers now operating in the U.S. — double the number in the year 2000.
- Here’s a cracker for your thoughts: Cheese is now one of the top three specialty food products in the United States. Americans consume more than 34 pounds per capita.
- Now, a drop of honey: Last year, the American Restaurant Association flagged artisan cheese as a top trend.
How to Join the American Cheese Project
Want to explore more American cheese together in 2018?
To join the movement, pop over to Instagram (@mmefromage) and whenever you eat a fabulous American-made cheese, snap a picture, post it to Instagram, and tag it #AmericanCheeseProject. I’ll check the tag every day so I can see your posts, and so will everyone who is noshing along! In fact, I’ll probably follow you. I’d love to know what you’re eating!
To be clear: I am not doing this project to gain followers on social media. My goal is to to learn more about American cheese and to share info. Instagram isn’t flawless, but it’s a good way to connect through tagging and commenting. It feels less clunky than doing those things here.
Finally, this idea stems from my own freaky zeal and isn’t sponsored by anyone. I plan to purchase the cheeses I eat for this project because I want to support American makers (another goal). While I welcome samples from time to time, I am really looking to discover new favorites.
This Week’s American Cheese
Rocket’s Robiola, from Boxcarr Handmade Cheese
Isn’t she a beauty? You can learn more about this North Carolina robiola rubbed in ash over at Box Carr Handmade Cheese. They’re also on Instagram (@BoxCarrHandmadeCheese).
Pictured up top: a selection from Valley Milkhouse, made here in my home state of Pennsylvania. Go red, white, and blue!
Filed under American Hotties, Uncategorized · Tagged with 2018, American cheese, American Cheese Project, ash, Boxcarr Cheese, cow's milk, North Carolina, robiola, Rocket's Robiola