Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Cheese Course

The Cheese Course at Seasonal Pantry is a way for cheese lovers to come together and experience and learn about seasonal cheeses and pairings. Hosted by Carolyn Stromberg, Fromager, each class includes 6 cheeses as well as house-made accompaniments that change depending on the season. The July class was dedicated towards summer cheeses and cheeses you could enjoy at picnics or parties. Because of the heat, summer cheeses tend to be a bit lighter in style.

Carolyn took us through each cheese, described the origin of the cheese, the type of milk, a little history, and the flavor and consistency. 

She also explained the theory behind pairing cheese with other foods and wine. The idea is for the flavors to meet in harmony in your mouth so that not one flavor is stronger or more powerful than the other.

The house-made accompaniments we had on Wednesday were pickled cherries, a tarragon and black pepper jam, blueberries, and watermelon mostarda.

We started with the St Maure de Touraine, which is a goats milk cheese from Touraine, France. It was bright, zesty, and very clean on the palate. I really enjoyed the ash rind for a little punch of flavor. I thought this cheese was delicious with the pickled cherries and the blueberries.

The second cheese was definitely a class favorite. Champlain Valley Triple Cream is a cows milk cheese out of Vermont. It was rich and buttery with a decadent creamy texture, but still light and refreshing at the same time. I loved this cheese with all the accompaniments. It paired well with sweet and savory items.

Next was a sheep's milk cheese called Malvarosa out of Valencia, Spain. Sheep's milk cheese can usually be pretty hearty and can hold up to big bold red wines, but this cheese was mild and very clean. It would be delicious paired with a lighter style red like Pinot Noir and even some white wines.

After the Malvarosa we tasted Pecorino Ginepro from Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Another sheep's milk cheese, but this one was much heartier and bolder than the last. It had a rind that was washed in wine which gave it some character. The cheese was a nice consistency. A little harder than a semi-soft with lots of flavor from the washed rind.

The fifth cheese was another class favorite. Cabot Clothbound Cheddar is a cows milk cheese out of Vermont. This had to be one of the best cheddar cheeses I have ever tasted. It is made in Vermont, but follows the traditional cheddar making process. It had a lovely nutty, toasty, brown butter quality about it, and really did pair well with all the accompaniments.

Following the delicious cheddar was the sixth and final cheese; Black River Blue. Since it tends to be much warmer in the summer, Carolyn suggested picking a blue cheese that is not too strong. This blue cheese was a cows milk cheese from Wisconsin, and was a the perfect combination between rich and creamy, and crumbly and strong. It was delicious with the blueberries and the watermelon mostarda. Even blue cheese haters will like this one.

The class was so much fun, and Carolyn did an incredible job describing all the cheeses, and teaching us how to pair the cheeses with other foods and wines. And the location of the Cheese Course couldn't have been better. Known for their Supper Club, Seasonal Pantry is a small little old-world market that carries a wide range of house-made products from local farms around the area. It has a wonderful rustic feel yet extremely modern and trendy at the same time.

The Seasonal Pantry is definitely for the foodie in us all, and The Cheese Course is a great way to learn more about cheeses while getting to taste them all in a comfortable setting.

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