Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Cheers to Beer: Blue Duck Tavern

By Lauren Rosalanko

The Blue Duck Tavern welcomes their newest addition, Sophie Slesinger, a cheese specialist. Prior to working at The Blue Duck Tavern Slesinger worked as cheesemonger at GCDC in Washington, DC. Throughout the evening I was able to sample five of the seasonal cheeses offered this spring at The Blue Duck Tavern with three beer pairings. While having wine paired with cheese is more typical the three different beers perfectly complemented the cheese tastings, offering a new spin on alcohol and food pairings.

Leading off the evening was a House-Cured Feta, made from pasteurized sheep's milk from Hidden Springs Creamery in Wisconsin. The feta was cured for one week in a mixture of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, herbs, toasted spices and some citrus flavors as well making for a burst of flavor. It paired well with a lighter beer, the Optimal Wit from Port City in Alexandria, VA. My favorite was the second cheese, Nancy's Camembert. The consistency was so creamy it seemed like you were eating butter. It was perfect for spreading on bread, but also was great to eat alone. The second beer pairing was Local One from Brooklyn Brewery. This beer is unique since it is fermented in the bottle due to having live yeast. It has a bubbly consistency and a great flavor. The next cheese was the Elsa Mae, made by Calkins Creamery, PA and a Verano cheese from Vermont Shepherd. Slesinger made the decision to end the evening on the Great Hill Blue cheese, something she typically recommends because it is so flavorful. This cheese was age for 60 days and is a sweeter blue cheese, which Americans typically tend to prefer.

Sophie Slesinger has a fantastic knowledge of cheese and was eager to share the best seasonal cheeses. Although I had a favorite since I love brie cheese, all of the cheeses brought a lovely variety and can easily pair with your choice of beer or wine. We had a small gift to take home, which was fresh butter that was made in house. I have been using the treat sparingly and am surely not looking forward to running out of it! 

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