Saturday, September 10, 2005

A Night of Cheese

Tuesday night I joined Barrie Lynn, the Cheese Impresario, for a wonderful evening of cheese and wine on her roof atop the Rossmore Apartments. With a 360 degree view of the entire city at dusk, it was a lovely setting for sharing some amazing cheeses. The historic building was familar from several movies and TV shows, and indeed Barrie Lynn found her apartment through a location manager friend.

La Tur cheese from Italy
We drank two wines from Judd's Hill Winery -- a 2001 Syrah and a 2000 Cabernet. Without even knowing my preferences, Barrie Lynn managed to find just the kind of cheese I like. It's taken my entire life for me to really appreciate the full range of cheeses from around the world. Growing up, we only had Swiss or jack in the house. I never liked cheddar and still don't. As I travelled more in France, I began to appreciate both soft and aged chevres, the occasional camembert and real parmigiano, but it's really just been in the last few years that I've delved into things like Midnight Moon goat gouda or dolce gorgonzola.
The presentation was beautiful, with several wedges of cheese identified by china cow-shaped cheese tags, some nuts and dried fruit, wonderfully zingy unpasteurized mustard, pear paste, duck proscuitto, two honeys and homemade sundried tomatoes.
Our favorite was La Tur, a very runny Italian cheese from the Alta Lange region that was like an earthy, sensual brie. It's a sheep/goat/cow mix. A cow's milk cheese called Le Brouere from Vosges, France seemed at first like a typical hard, dry gouda-type cheese, but on the tongue it developed a rich caramel flavor. The Italian aged provolone and the French Valley D'Aspe sheep's milk cheese were also nutty and flavorful without being too rich, since the La Tur was as rich as it gets. I loved the syrah with all the cheeses. The cabernet was less fruity but went nicely with several of the choices.
Barrie Lynn is a fascinating woman -- a marketing consultant in real life -- who enjoys sharing her wide knowledge at monthly cheese tastings, so check the calendar on her site.
Even if you don't have a panoramic terrace available, Barrie Lynn's tasting showed how easy and fun it would be to put on a little cheese tasting party for your friends using some unusual varieties and accompaniements.

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