Friday, September 21, 2012

Cheese! And Wine!

For once, superwoman Maria wasn’t training for her IronMan last night, so we decided to hit up a Cheese Class and Tasting at Whole Foods. We were served samples of five different cheeses paired with wines meant to highlight the different flavors of the cheeses. As we sampled, the cheese expert gave us the background on the production of the cheese and explained what flavor notes we should be picking out.

wine and cheese

We started with Brillat Savarin, a decadent triple creme Brie. Like most Brie cheeses, it was rich and buttery; we were also told to take note of a hint of mushroom in the cheese. It was paired with pepper jelly and an Extra Dry Prosecco from Cantine Pirovano. I liked the overall combination of flavors in this selection. The creaminess of the Brie mellowed the bite of the pepper jelly, and the prosecco was light and fruity, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the Brie on its own. It was a little earthy for me.

The second selection was a 5 Year Gouda from the Netherlands. The cheese is sourced from small scale dairy farms which typically only have 30 – 100 cows. The Gouda was sweeter than most I have tried in the past, and it was very easy to pick out the butterscotch flavor we were told to expect. It was paired with a really nice Port whose name I unfortunately don’t remember. It seems that someone else was also a fan because the empty bottle disappeared after the class before I had a chance to look at it. An interesting tidbit I learned during the discussion on this cheese – Gouda is actually pronounced “Gowda."  Who knew?

The third cheese was a Tarentaise out of Vermont. It is an organic Alpine-style cheese made with raw milk from Jersey cows and produced in specially imported copper vats. It was served with a raw Marcona almond and a Block No. 45 Pinot Noir. The cheese had a slightly nutty flavor and a little bit of a bite. The wine was just okay; I don't have anything good or bad to say about it. This trio was probably the most unremarkable of the tasting courses.

Cheese #4 was Gabietou, a semi-soft cheese made with a blend of raw cow and sheep’s milk. It comes from a mountainous region in southwestern France, and the animals used in the production of the cheese are moved up and down the mountains, allowing them to ingest a variety of flora and fauna. It was served with a 2009 Aletta Garnacha. This was probably my least favorite combination of the night. Both the cheese and the wine had earthy notes, and I am starting to realize that I am not a huge fan of that characteristic in my food.

The final selection was a revelation for me. When I saw that it was a blue cheese, I was slightly disappointed because I am not a fan of blue cheeses. It only got worse when the expert told us to expect a cheese that would “sit heavy on the tongue”. The cheese was a Persille du Malzieu from France. It was served with a piece of dark chocolate and this light, fruity, refreshing Riesling, which just might be my new favorite wine.


The cheese on its own was creamy and spicy and was definitely blue, but unlike some I have had before where the pungent flavor is completely overwhelming, this one also had a sweetness that seemed to mellow the tang and sharpness. And paired with the dark chocolate, it was pretty amazing.

This was my first time attending one of the free classes at Whole Foods, and now I can’t wait to check out some of their other events. While I love eating cheese, I am by no means educated on the topic, so I felt like I learned a lot, and I sampled cheeses that I never would have otherwise tried. The Cheese Class & Tasting is held the third Thursday of every month at the Whole Foods in Tampa, and I will definitely be going back next month.

To top off an already awesome night, we ran into Target, where I finally found this gum.

Nicole Wilkins had posted a picture of this on her Facebook page months ago, and I have been looking everywhere for it since then because the Dessert Delights are my absolute favorite. The verdict? It's probably the second best flavor, right behind Apple Pie.

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