Friday, March 23, 2007

Cheese and beer are good

Good lord, what a terrible photo to go with such a lovely evening! Did I learn nothing about pairing when I attended my Artisanal cheese and beer pairing class??? Actually, yes I did learn something...I love cheese and beer in any combination!
Let me tell you a few things that I did learn from my evening of higher gastric education...
First and foremost, the beers from Blue Point Brewing are really delicious. Apparently the brewery is accessible from Manhattan via train (it's in Patchogue, Long Island after all) and get this, they have all you can drink sampling at the brewery and an outdoor patio for seating! Hello new summer weekend adventure!
We enjoyed their Toasted Lager, Fresh Hops Pale Ale, No Apologies Imperial IPA, Oatmeal Stout, and Sour Cherry Imperial Stout. My favorite had to be their Oatmeal Stout, but I am a big dark beer drinker. Their Sour Cherry Imperial Stout and No Apologies Imperial IPA (10% ABV) were also winners for me.
Ok, so we also had cheese...I mean we had some of the most awesome, stinky, blue, melty and delicious cheeses I have ever eaten! I have to tell you that I do believe after eating all these beauties that the Hoja Santa from the Mozzarella Company in Dallas Texas is perhaps the best cheese to pair with beer ever created. This cheese is a young goat's milk cheese that is wrapped in leaves from the Hoja Santa plant. This gives the cheese a peculiar (but yummy) flavor that Jon Lundbom (the cheese expert teaching our class) said tasted like sassafras. Not having eaten much sassafras in my time, the closest I could describe it was similar to the flavor of epazote. Now this may not sound like a match made in heaven to pair with beer, but let me tell you it is so dreamy and creamy and just plain great...try it yourself!
Other cheeses we sampled were Comte Saint Antoine (superb), Gorwydd Caerphilly, Montgomery's Cheddar (cheddary and yummy), Epoisses (stanky but delicious), Brillat Savarin (maybe even creamier than die for), Bayley Hazen Blue (I hate blue and liked this) and Valdeon (I don't like blue cheese).
Most of these cheeses are available from the Artisanal website, and they have a bunch of other great classes to attend so please check out their class list.
If you are interested in the class I took, there are three more sessions scheduled:
Thursday, April 12th - with Ithaca $75.00
Thursday, May 3rd - with Kelso $75.00
Thursday, June 21st - The Spices of Summer $75.00
I hope you will take my advice and check out one of their many classes, but if you are unable I hope you will look for the Hoja Santa cheese and amaze your friends and family with your terrific beer and cheese pairing abilities. I won't tell where you got this insider info...wink!

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