A rare 60 degree February day provided a preview of what it will be like to return to “normal” as the Northern New Jersey council gathered in person for the first time in many months.

In celebration of all things delicious, the group got “Cheesy” as local celebrity cheese maker “Vinnie Mootz” (Vincent Morelli) held a private lesson for the council, sharing his secrets for the perfect fresh Mozzarella at his storefront location in Lyndhurst, NJ. Some council members traveled over 100 miles to reconnect and network.

We were greeted with a beautiful specialty hors d’oeuvre platter, highlighting the multiple presentations and uses for the evening’s star. Stuffed breads, stuffed cheese, burrata, specialty cold cuts, and pasta salad all help whet our appetites. We started the learning portion of the night with the presentation of our cheese curds, learned about the health benefits of whey, compared the addition of salt used to separate the curds to surfactants used in a manufacturing line, then melted, stretched, and popped our way to the creation of our own unique fresh “mootz’ sa’ rellll” (imitation phonetics for those who don’t speak Jersey).

Fun was had by all, new ideas and locations for future meetings were shared and we were energized by just being together again. While temperatures dropped back into the ’20s the following day, our evening with “Vinnie Mootz” was a sure signal that spring is on the way and we can hope that along with the change in weather, a change to our pandemic isolation is on the horizon as well.