Cheese is such a wonderful and complex food. Similar to grapes and wine making, you can take the same cow, sheep or goat’s milk, and depending on whom the cheese maker is, you can get completely different type of cheese. Maybe that’s why they go so good together. Cheese and wine are like peanut butter and jelly or bacon and eggs, they belong together.
And fortunate for me, I met one of the nations leading cheese gurus, The Cheese Impresario. Barrie Lynn, the cheese columnist for The Beverly Hills Times and the monthly “Cheese Matters” column, has been featured in numerous wine and cheese publications. BL hosts cheese tastings at events all over the country, most recently the Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience, LA Wine Fest, and the Art of Food & Wine in Palm Dessert.
I happened upon Barrie Lynn by pure chance. After buying some raffle tickets to benefit Heal The Bay at LA Weekly’s Gold Standard, I crossed my fingers as they called out the winner for the private cheese tasting with The Cheese Impresario. Low and behold, my name was called and I took home the best prize of the day.
When I first talked to Barrie Lynn on the phone to schedule the tasting, I could tell she was excited to share her knowledge and love of artisan cheese. We worked out the details of her visit and scheduled a date. We were to provide 4 wines for tasting, plates, the location and she would provide the cheese for us and a couple of friends. She arrived, with an armful of artisan cheeses, breads, accoutrement for the night, dressed to a tea in her cheese impresario gold sequined top and a smile a mile wide.
She plates the cheese and sets out a large bowl of freshly baked and sliced La Brea Bakery baguettes. She brings 6 different types of cheeses, nuts, dried fruit, honey and a wonderfully intense fig molasses for drizzling. The first cheese of the night is a goat cheese you can find at whole foods made by Woolwich Dairy. The Chevrai Original Fresh Chevre Goat Cheese is rich and creamy, with a tangy taste and smooth finish. She recommended we take a bite of the cheese then wash it down the “cheese highway” with some of our Lucien Crochet Sancerre. The flavor of the wine and the cheese were spectacular. If life is a cheese highway, I wanna ride it all night long.
The next cheese is from Holland Family Farm, the Raw Milk Foenegreek Gouda made from cow’s milk. Foenegreek is a seed that is native to Holland and has a nutty, maple like flavor. This cheese won best in class at the 2007 US Championship Cheese Contest and I can see why. It’s uniquely aged for 6 months, and is wonderfully creamy and nutty.
At this point, after a bottle of wine and a couple of cheeses, it’s perfect that we move on to the Beehive Cheese Company’s Barely Buzzed. The cheese, made from cow’s milk, is a full bodied, rubbed with Turkish coffee and lavender, and has notes of butterscotch and caramel. We paired this with a bottle of Cottonwood Canyon 2001 Pinot Noir. The Pinot was a lovely complement to the complex flavors of the cheese.
Our next cheese was made by Sid Cook from Carr Valley Cheese Co. Cook’s a Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker and a rock and roll star in the world of artisan cheese making. We tried his Airco, a hickory smoked cheese made from cow, goat, and sheep’s milk. I love smoked cheeses and this is one exceptional. Its gentle smoked flavor perfectly balances the sweetness of the cheese. The other cheese of his we tried was his very bold 6-year cheddar made from cow’s milk. Both these cheeses paired very well with the Black Box Shiraz.
It was an amazing evening of artisan cheese, wine, and a little Jamon Serano we added to the mix from La Tienda. Barrie Lynn was an amazing host, and she is available for private parties and corporate events. I highly recommend you get in touch with her for your next event. Contact her at barrielynn@TheCheeseImpresario.com