End of One Chapter, Start of Another


As many of you know, after living in Oregon for 20 years, my husband and I recently purchased a coffee shop, bakery and restaurant in downtown Oregon and renamed it
Firefly Coffeehouse & Artisan Cheese. After five months of steadily growing this new business with a new breakfast, lunch & dinner menu, daily specials, and an expanded bakery, drink and espresso menu, we are taking it to the next level and adding an artisan cheese case and retail space on May 2, featuring the best artisan cheeses and local foods from Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest.

In fact, my office at the Firefly is currently filled with boxes of Gail Ambrosius Chocolate, Quince and Apple Preserves, Treat Nuts, Potter’s Crackers, Bee Barf Honey and bags of Kickapoo and Anodyne Coffee, all waiting to be put onto shelves next week. Meanwhile, every square inch of cooler space not occupied with Sassy Cow milk is filled with cheese wheels that have been arriving all week and which I will furiously be cutting and wrapping next week. Did I mention we’re also adding a full array of different cheese boards with wine and craft beer pairings?

As a result of this flurry of new activity in my life, last week I announced to members of Wisconsin Cheese Originals that I would be sunsetting the member-based organization. After 10 years of running a non-official non-profit (thanks to a husband with a good heart and a good job), it’s simply time for me to focus on three newer passions:

1) Building a community around good food & good coffee.

2) Bringing artisan cheese and local foods to the heart of my hometown.

3) Continuing to help steer smart and steady growth as a three-term elected member of the Oregon Village Board, a member of the Oregon Planning Commission and the Oregon Library Board. In fact, in the spring of 2019, I plan to run for Village President.

Operating a 5,000 square-foot coffeehouse, restaurant, bakery and retail shop brings a an exciting opportunity to reach a wider audience and share the gospel of good food. After 15 years of marketing, retailing, buying and educating folks about artisan cheese, I am expanding that passion to supporting local farms by purchasing not only local cheese, but local eggs, milk, produce, meats, and educating customers on the importance of sustainable eating with descriptions of daily specials and new signage.

So fear not, if you would like to stay connected to the many events, classes and activities that I used to offer through Wisconsin Cheese Originals, I’ll still be offering many of those things through Firefly Coffeehouse & Artisan Cheese.  Be sure and visit this website for a continually updated listing of classes taking place at the Firefly, and keep reading Cheese Underground, where I will continue to write about cheese and announce events, including a new season of Cheese Underground Radio debuting this summer.

Lastly, if you live anywhere near Oregon, Wisconsin, or have a road trip planned this summer, please stop in at the Firefly at 114 N. Main Street and say hello. So many of you have become my family over the years, and there is nothing better than having family share in your success. The Firefly is my next 20-year project, and I look forward to sharing that journey with you.

— Jeanne Carpenter, ACS CCP
Owner, Firefly Coffeehouse & Artisan Cheese

Announcing the 2014 American Artisan Cheese Series

Exciting news, cheese geeks! If you’re looking for a monthly night out, tasting and learning about new artisan cheeses, then Wisconsin Cheese Originals has a deal for you. Tonight, I’m announcing my all new 2014 American Artisan Cheese Series with monthly classes at the Firefly Coffeehouse in Oregon, Wis.

This will mark the third year of the monthly classes, which include a tasting and storytelling of at least four artisan cheeses. I also often bring in guest speakers, such as Wisconsin cheesemakers, dairy farmers, and industry leaders. Classes begin at 7 p.m. at the Firefly Coffeehouse at 114 N. Main St. in Oregon, Wis., just 10 minutes south of Madison. Each class includes a complimentary glass of wine, beer or beverage. Cost is $22 per class and tickets must be reserved in advance at www.wicheeseclass.com. All classes typically sell out.

As a special offer through January 1, 2014: purchase a season pass to all 12 classes and get two classes for free, a perfect gift for your favorite cheese geek.

The 2014 class line-up includes:

January 16: Gourmet Grilled Cheese
Warm up long January days and kick off the new year with an introduction to three gourmet grilled cheeses. We’ll taste each cheese separately, and then compare each when warmed in a grilled cheese sandwich. Special treat: Uplands Cheese’s seasonal Rush Creek Reserve and a rustic baguette as an appetizer.

February 11: Blue-Veined Cheeses & The Wines That Love Them
Taste four of Wisconsin’s best blue cheeses, paired with four different wines. Learn the mystery behind blue cheesemaking, and what makes one blue taste different from another. If you think you don’t like blue veined cheese, we may change your mind with this evening of perfect pairings.

March 13: Fondue Fun & Swiss Specialties
Start the evening with a communal pot of yummy fondue and crusty bread. Then taste and learn about four classic Swiss cheeses perfect for fondue. Leave with a booklet of recipes to make your favorite at home.

April 17: World Champion Cheeses
With the World Championship Cheese Contest held in Wisconsin just one month prior to this class, we’ll discover and taste four gold medal world winners. Learn what it takes to make an award-winning cheese.

May 13: Butter Makes Everything Better
A few years ago, Wisconsin updated its buttermaking licensing requirements, allowing a new generation of licensed craftsmen and women to make seasonal and artisan butters. Learn and taste four of the best with breads and accompaniments.

June 12: American Farmstead Cheeses
Perhaps some of the most eye-appealing and palate-pleasing cheeses are those hand-crafted on the same farm as where the animals are milked.  Learn the stories and taste four of the best farmstead cheeses made in America today.

July 15: Summer Break: Sassy Cow Ice Cream
Take a summer break and celebrate national ice cream month with four local ice creams from Sassy Cow Creamery. Learn about the process of making farmstead ice cream and submit an idea for your favorite flavor. We’ll pick the most original and have it custom made for this class.

August 21: Pasture-Based Cheeses
Pasture-grazed cheeses are just one Wisconsin’s claims to fame, thanks to three seasons of green grass perfect for animals to eat. We’ll taste four seasonal cheeses, each made only when animals are grazing on grass.

September 16: Wisconsin Women Cheesemakers
In the past 10 years, more than a dozen women have entered the Wisconsin cheesemaking scene, winning awards and changing the face of American artisan cheese. Taste and hear the stories of four of the best women-inspired cheeses.

October 14: Amuse Bouche Cheeses
Looking for the perfect appetizer? Look no further than artisan cheese combined with original ingredients. We’ll learn how to make and taste four unique one-bite appetizers using artisan cheese.

November 13: Cheesecake and Dessert Cheeses
Start the evening with cheesecakes made locally. Then continue with tasting and learning about cheeses perfect for dessert. Learn how to make a cheese board for the end of your favorite meal.

December 9: Ultimate Wisconsin Cheddar Throwdown
A new era of Wisconsin Cheddar has emerged in the past decade, with more cheesemakers moving to artisan aged and bandaged Cheddars. We’ll taste three aged Cheddars from one to 15 years, as well as a reserve Bandaged Cheddar.

All classes are for sale individually, as well as in a season package at: www.wicheeseclass.com. I look forward to seeing you there!