Not too Cheesy: Cheese 101

Artisan Cheese Company in Sarasota offers a fun, very interesting, enjoyable cheese course: Cheese 101.  For Christmas our daughters gave us gift certificates for the course.  We finally made a point of signing up for a class before Christmas arrived again!

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The course consisted of 10 cheeses, 3 wines and 13 pairings.  Louise Converse, owner of Artisan Cheese Company hosted the class with her talented cheesemongers.  They guided us through the evening beginning with a lesson in ‘how to’ smell and taste a cheese properly.  They gave us background on the individual cheeses, the cheese makers and their personal insights having met most every one of the artisan cheese magicians.  All of this went on while we sat back, examined, smelled and tasted some exceptional artisan products.

Louise, Natalie & Angela  (photos courtesy of Artisan Cheese Company)

The trick through the hour and a half is to retain at least some of the valuable information while enjoying the specilities before you.  You do get a printout of everything and a pen to jot notes but that requires that you do it!  I found it hard to do both.

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Rather than tell you about each and every cheese and chance spoiling the fun you can have if you adventure in and try this class yourself, I will just say, you can create the most unexpected, delightful pairings of cheese and “sides” imaginable.  Many of the guests were raving about pairing one of the cheeses with pickles! I was surprised by my pairing with a fig and black tea concoction.

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I left the class having a taste for a number cheeses that I’d never tried and they will definitely lure me back to Artisan’s.   I’ve been a customer of the shop, but I’ve been stuck in old habits of purchasing what I know and not good about experimenting.

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Cheese 101 gives you insight into cheeses and unusual accompaniments you might not have thought to pair with a cheese.  I’m craving the Midnight Moon.  I think it makes for a heavenly breakfast cheese and Cabot’s Clothbound Cheddar was an amazing, difficult to get, special cheese. I heard almost everyone agree that the Challerhocker, Walter Rass cow cheese from Switzerland was their favorite.

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(photo courtesy of Artisan Cheese Company)

And finally to the third pairing -the wines.  A 2013 Pinot Grigio Santa Magdalena, a 2012 Apaltagua Pinot Noir from Chile and a 2013 Hayes Valley Cabernet from the Central Coast of California were served.   Many guests mentioned they enjoyed the Cabernet the best of the three with the cheeses.  With so very many incredible wines available today,  the wine choices seemed weak served with such incredibly outstanding cheeses and accompaniments.

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I highly recommend Cheese 101.  Gather your friends and make a party of it. We left the course with our friends and continued on at our home enjoying more food and wines well into the night.  Many, many thanks to Louise, Angela and Natalie who are extremely experienced in the art of cheese and wonderful speciality foods.  It was, for sure, a delightful time at Artisan Cheese Company!

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