Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Vote with your Taste Buds!

We are getting close to the final month of the election season and what better way to support your candidate than through ordering cheese. Yes, you heard me right - you can vote with your taste buds at the Park Hyatt Washington with their Presidential Blue and Red cheese selection.  As an "undecided" voter, I decided to use the Presidential cheese selections to dictate my party preferences.

The hotel has a fantastic lounge area with floor-to-ceiling windows, comfy couches, and bar tables surrounding a cheese and Charcuterie station manned by the Park Hyatt Washington’s Cheese Specialist, Lisa Hviding.  Individual cheese and charcuterie boards are freshly prepared and plated in front of your eyes by Lisa and the other staff members (even the charcuterie is sliced fresh with a super fancy meat slicer!).  Just looking at this station made my mouth water for cheese... I need to see about getting one of these for my kitchen!

Atop the cheese station rests the Presidential Cheese - a 35 pound cheese wheel of pasteurized cow’s milk cheese made of Cabot Clothbound cheddar from the Cellars at Jasper Hill, Vermont.  I don't think I've ever seen a cheese wheel of that magnitude before.  I wonder if Baxter could eat it....

The cheese selection includes a number of delicious goat, sheep and cow's milk cheeses from all over the US (and one from France for good measure, since it is sort of their thing). Lisa was so helpful in explaining where each of the different cheeses originate from, what they taste like, how they are prepared, and what techniques are used in the aging process.  I learned so much about cheese-making and can appreciate it much more!  (Here's a fast fact: Some cheeses are aged in a cave!)

Given my indecisive party selection (gasp! and I live in the Nation's Capital!), I opted for the Presidential cheese tray with two Blue cheeses (Democrat) and two Red cheeses (Republican).  The Blue cheeses were Ewe’s Blue, a sheep’s milk cheese from New York, and Pont L'Eveque, a cow's milk cheese from France (left side of the board in picture below).  On the other side of the tray were the Red cheeses, Lincoln Log, a pasteurized goat’s milk cheese from Michigan and the Cabot Clothbound cheddar from Vermont (right side of the board in picture below).  The cheeses were accompanied by  housemade pinot noir jelly, Vidalia onion jam, Concord grape jelly, pears, figs, and bread.

The cheese board was amazing, definitely one of the best cheese boards that I have ever had - it was perfectly balanced and enhanced by the jelly and jam pairings.  The Blue selections were good, a solid Roquefort blue cheese and a creamy French cheese.  But I have to say, the Red selections were outstanding - the Lincoln Log was light, fresh and smooth and the Cabot Clothbound cheddar was rich, complex and nutty.  The Vidalia onion jam was a great pair to the cheddar - not like the traditional caramelized onion jams but much more sweet and light.  

At this point, I was leaning strongly to voting Red, and Lisa had just gotten in the Red Hawk, a cow’s milk cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, California.  To solidify my vote, I sampled the Red Hawk cheese with sopressata and prosciutto.

The polls are closed - we had a winner!  The Red Hawk cheese was definitely my favorite, it is a triple cream cheese that is silky and smooth with an earthy taste. Check it out, the Winners' Circle...

I had a phenomenal experience at the Park Hyatt Washington - a fantastic cheese and charcuterie selection in a relaxed setting with friendly and attentive staff. You have a month left to enjoy the Presidential Cheeses and submit your vote over at the cheese station (available nightly from 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm). Get out and rock the vote!

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