MOUNT VERNON — Those paying thousands of dollars to dine with President Barack Obama at a fundraising dinner Friday will taste organic, sophisticated, high-end French cheese made from milk from an organic dairy farm in central Maine.

Barbara Skapa, who grew up in France, operates Echo Ridge Organic Cheese in Mount Vernon and gets milk from Julie and Dick Hall’s Ray Dick Farm not far away.

On Tuesday, Skapa was packing the mold-ripened cheese that had been ordered by Aurora Provisions of Portland, which is catering the dinner at the Portland Museum of Art.

“What Aurora wants to do is feature Maine products,” Skapa said. “They know me, they know my cheeses, they asked me to make cheese for their affair.”

“I actually volunteered to deliver it through the back door,” she added with a laugh.

She’s made three dozen cheeses of various sizes — bries, camemberts and something she calls a mini-brie. “It’s the size of a small marshmallow, an individual serving,” she said. “Caterers love them. They can be served on a dessert plate.”


She’s also sending coulommiers and reblochon, a washed-rind cheese, related to meunster. “It’s much more sophisticated and very tricky to make,” Skapa said. “It’s a Muenster cheese that’s gone to college.”

Skapa has been making cheese for six years.

“I grew up I France,” she said. “I know these cheeses. I know what they’re supposed to look like, feel like, taste like.”

Skapa got the Aurora cheese order several weeks ago, and she’s been told about 130 donors are expected to attend Friday’s dinner with the president.

A sign posted outside her house this week says, “Busy making cheese for the White House.”

The price of admission to the exclusive dinner is as much as $30,000. The dinner will follow a reception that afternoon at the Portland Marriott at Sable Oaks in South Portland, which about 800 people are expected to attend.

For those who’d like to taste Echo Ridge Organic Cheese themselves, Skapa sells it at her farmstand, and it is also sold at Lakeside Orchard, Manchester, Uncorked Wine & Cheese, Augusta; Marie’s Whole Foods, Readfield and Belfast Co-op.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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