We joined Cheese Specialist Sophie Slesinger for a class on the wonderful world of cheese and beer. During this two-hour long fermented foods feast, we sampled some of the finest cheese paired with a selection of artisanal craft beer. We started with a taste of Port City Brewery's Optimal Wit, a Belgian style white ale, paired with some fresh charcuterie and bread. This was just to wake our palates, but I found the beer to be very enjoyable.
Next, we enjoyed small bites of food that highlighted some fermented products created by Chef de Cuisine Brad Deboy. He explained the strengths, complexities, and nuances of pairing food with beer, along with the art of fermentation. We enjoyed the pork belly topped with kimchi squash, beet salad, and a rabbit sausage topped with pickled brussels sprouts.
Chef Deboy demonstrated how to make fermented brussels sprouts by highlighting the importance of a 2% seasoning ratio. He simply used salt, sugar, and cumin to start the process and then allows the bacteria to do all the work.
After the demo, we sat back down and were ready to dive into the cheese pairings. Sophie explained each type of cheese as we progressed from freshest/youngest to most aged.
|Left: Smokey Mountain Round; Right: Talbot Reserve|
We started with a tart goat cheese called Smokey Mountain Round from Goat Lady Dairy, NC. It was paired with a complementing tart Millstone Cider from Monkton, MD.
Next was a smooth, raw cow cheese called Winnimere from Jasper Hill Farm, VT. This spreadable cheese was not as funky as similar varieties, and is aged in a spruce tree wrapping to impart some sap flavor into the cheese. This paired nicely with the Astral Weeks from Right Proper Brewery in DC.
|Sophie explaining the spruce wrapping on the Winnimere.|
Contrary to the smooth Winnimere, we sampled a cheddar style Talbot Reserve from Chapel Creamery, MD. This cheese paired with a sweeter beer with slight floral notes called Lil' Sumpin' Sumpin' IPA from Lagunitas, CA.
Continuing with the sweet progression, we tried the Marieke Gouda from Holland's Family Farm, WI. This harder gouda is aged 15 months and is similar to Parmesan. It was paired with the Local One from Brooklyn Brewery, NY and really brought out the caramel notes in the beer.
Lastly, we ate the Ewe's Blue from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, NY. This buttery pasteurized sheep cheese was paired with a strong and sweet Old Rasputin from North Coast Brewing, CA. This Russian style beer had strong coffee notes and the cheese was mild in mold levels to provide a nice end to our cheese and beer adventure.
All in all, we really enjoyed this Park Hyatt Masters of Food & Wine event at Blue Duck Tavern. We even got a little goodie bag of fermented mustard and butter made by Sophie to take home. I look forward to seeing other similar events offered, and recommend you check them out for a fun and informative experience centered around food.