Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Wine & Cheese Pairing with Max McCalman

Weeks back, I took part in a wine and cheese tasting with Max McCalman, a pioneer of the cheese industry. Max is an world-renowned expert on cheese, educator, James Beard award-winning author, Maître Fromager, and someone that greatly inspires me.

A diverse cheese flight of varying milks and textures were served: Humboldt Fog, Cacique Queso Fresco, Le Chatelain Brie, Bellwether Farms' San Andreas, Taleggio, American Grana, Scharfe Maxx, and Pt. Reyes' Bay Blue. Four wines; two whites (Josh Cellars 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Clos Pegase 2013 Chardonnay), and two reds (Laetitia Vineyards 2013 Pinot Noir, J.Lohr Hilltop 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon) accompanied these cheeses. We sampled each wine with the flight of cheeses,  rather than strictly pairing a particular wine with a specific cheese. This encouraged exploration, uncovering striking and even unpleasant pairing combinations. That's how we learn, right?

I discovered that the Sauvignon Blanc paired nicely with the Let Chatelain Brie, helping breakdown the butteryness. My favorite pairing was the Humboldt Fog with the Sauvignon Blanc, the crisp wine made a beautiful partner with the clean and tangy qualities of the cheese.

The wine and cheese pairing was enjoyable and educational. Here are a few of the many things that I learned from the tasting:

-When pairing, Max suggests starting with the wine first, so you can get the flavors, as cheese is a stronger partner.

-Find the appropriate temperature with the wines.

-Water keeps the palate neutral, lifting off acids and aroma off the palate.

-Crackers work like  a swab, picking up flavors off the tongue.

-Pair the inside of the cheese, or paste. The rinds can clash with wines.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Cheese Board Beauties

marble and acacia pineapple-shaped board available at anthropologie, rectangular acacia/rosy agate and rose quartz platters from uncommon goods, petrified wood boards sold at terrain

From its varying shape, size, materials and textures, cheese boards are an art form in itself. I own a small collection of cheese boards, and I'm fascinated by these. I don't quite yet have a mixed material cheese board or a petrified wood one (shown on the bottom right). They're super gorgeous. I'd even use it to hold my perfume and jewelry.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Beer and Cheese Night with Vagabond Cheese and El Segundo Brewery

I work in the specialty food/cheese industry and do my best to attend cheese events to further enhance my knowledge of the subject. During the weekend, Vagabond cheese hosted a cheese pairing event at El Segundo Brewing Company. A flight of cheeses were selected and served alongside complementary brews.

Two of the most interesting cheeses of the night were Ogleshield and Ol Sciur. This was my first time tasting either of these cheeses, so I was ecstatic to be introduced to something new! Ogleshield is an alpine style cheese made not from the alps of Switzerland or  France, but in Somerset, England!? It was pretty fantastic with its beefy savoriness, and rich mouth feel. Ol Sciur is a raw goat's milk blue rubbed with mixed berries and rose petals. Say whhatt? I couldn't believe it either! I enjoyed the sweet aroma, and the fruity flavor juxtaposed with the light peppery blue bite. A little bit dried fruit, nuts and  bergamot marmalade from Blue Chair Fruit Co. completed the cheese plate. 
What a delicious night of cheese and beer!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Cheese Spotlight: Jasper Hill's Harbison

image via Jasper Hills

Allow me to introduce you to Harbison by Jasper Hills. This rustic charmer is wrapped in spruce bark and has a wonderfully gooey texture that'll make you swoon. Its flavors range from vegetal, almost asparagus-like, to woodsy, with notes of pine and lemon. I don't think I can compare this cheese with anything else; It's truly unique! Cut the top of the rind and uncover it's gorgeous spoonable paste.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Old Amsterdam Cheese Flagship Store

Old Amsterdam cheese flagship store is just as stunning as the cheese. It's a rustic yet modern space that's so inviting. The warmth of the rustic wooden fixtures, the clean lines, and the use of repetition in merchandising the wheels and wedges is Doesn't the store look like a library of cheese? This shop is one my "must visit" cheese destinations.

If you haven't tried Old Amsterdam, you need to. Its flavor is a cross between Parmigiano Reggiano and an aged gouda-- bold, nutty, and smooth.

photography credit: retail design blog
store design: studiomfd

cheeeeese everywhere!

Monday, January 4, 2016


While water crackers are an easy solution for your cheese board, there are many other tastier options  that will enhance your cheese enjoyment. My favorite crackers offer great texture and serve as delicious vehicle that will not overpower your cheese.

Not shown, but also noteworthy are Croccantini flatbread crackers.

raincoast crisps via dean & deluca

Raincoast crisps add enormous texture and are packed with various seeds, fruits and nuts. The hint of sweetness makes for a wonderful contrast with savory cheeses such as chèvre and camembert. 

beecher's crackers via beecher's

Beecher's, the same company who brought you 
Beecher's flagship cheese, has added crackers to their product mix. The hearty cracker is rich and buttery, with a corn-nut taste. Great with a robust gouda or a seriously aged cheddar. 

nut thins via blue diamond almonds

Almond nut-thins are light, crispy, nutty. It's a neutral cracker that allows the cheese to shine. I eat this with tuna, hummus, dips, everything!  And, it's guilt and gluten free!

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Gift for the Beer Lover

This holiday season, give the gift of beer. Because, why not? I have a friend who is a beer connoisseur, and thought this would be the perfect gift. The rustic bottle caddy is a portable party, conveniently affixed with a bottle opener. Throw in a few of your favorite beers/ciders, dress it up with festive ribbon, and you're all set!

bottle caddy available from world market, red and white twill ribbon and hang tag available at paper source, matilda beer and rogue stout sold at bev mo