So, I returned to 'The House That Beer Built', Against the Grain (620 6th Street) for another cheese tasting last night. The cheeses were international this time & were provided by Murray's (254 Bleeker Street http://www.murrayscheese.com).
ATG was typically busy, so I was relegated to a seat on the side - but with the prospect of beer & cheese looming, I didn't mind. Plus, I got to sit by Chris, the Murray's rep. who turned out to be a treasure trove of cheesy knowledge.
Here's exactly how I went about rating everything. I tasted the beer first. Then the cheese, then the accompaniment, then the cheese & accompaniment together. That gave me the full spectrum of flavors.
1st Pairing: Lord of the Hundreds and a quince gelee with Victory Pilsner.
This sheep's milk cheese from England was firm & flaky, not unlike parmesan. The quince gelee was sweet (perhaps too sweet?) & went very well together. The Pilsner was an excellent match as well. I gave this pairing 8/10.
2nd Pairing: Valencay & spiced plums with Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold.
This pasteurized goat cheese from Spain was very soft with a creamy, delicate texture, much like all goat cheeses. The only difference was that this cheese had a casing like a Brie or Camembert which had a blue cheese flavor to it. Delicious! I'm used to herb crusted goat cheeses, so this was a pleasant surprise. The spiced plums were spicy, sweet & tart, all at the same time - an excellent match for the cheese.
The beer was a new addition to the ATG arsenal & I really liked it. It was complex with subtle hints of fruit. 10/10 a perfect pairing.
3rd Pairing: Rebruschon & apple onion relish with Bear Republic Racer 5.
Just when I thought things couldn't get any better, this beast was placed before me.
This is a pasteurized Tome-style cheese from Piedmonte, Italy. It was firm, pungent, robust & delicious.I never eat the rind on hard cheeses, but I'll admit that this one was delicious. The relish was sweet, tart & acidic; it went very well with the cheese.
The beer was like a 'Sam Adams on Crack'. I hate Sam Adams, but I loved this beer. Yet another 10/10 pairing.
4th Pairing: Nisa & spiced raisins with Smuttynose Robust Porter.
This is a semi-soft raw sheep's milk cheese that was aged 6 months & hails from Portugal. It was sharp & pungent with a strong aftertaste, right down my alley. The raisins were spicy/sweet. Now the beer, hmm. I don't like Porters, so I'm not going to comment. 5/10 with the beer, 8/10 without.
5th Pairing: Cashel Blue & melon drizzled with honey with Sixpoint Oatmeal Stout.
This Blue cow's cheese hails from Ireland. It was strong & creamy with a complex aftertaste. The melons offered a sticky, sweet contrast to the cheese.
As I don't like stouts either, the staff were nice enough to pour me a 3 Philosophers which I was told is a mix of 3 ales. It has a subtle, sweet cheery flavor. I loved it. 9/10 (mainly due to the beer switch-a-roo).
All in all, I had a great time.