While the month of October typically has us hitting the sweets, it’s also American Cheese Month and an ideal time to sample the delicious offerings from artisan cheesemakers all over the country.
While cheese can stand alone, finding an expert pairing not only elevates the flavor, but the overall tasting experience. Whole Foods Market sent some of its 147 certified cheese professionals to cheesemakers all over the country to help make special batches of cheese available nationwide. They’ve provided ideal pairings ranging from beer to wine and crackers to fruit.
o Wine: Sparkling vouvray. The light sweetness and acidity of the wine along with the effervescence of the bubbles really accentuates the rich, creaminess of the Mt. Tam.
o Beer: Saison Dupont from Brasserie Dupont. A wonderfully bright, yeasty, effervescent beer that is crisp enough to cut through the richness of the Mt. Tam and partners nicely with the slight grassiness of the cheese.
o Accoutrement: Primo Blackberry Serrano Preserves. A nice tangy sweetness from the blackberries with a little heat from the serrano. It’s a nice contrasting yet complementary taste with the buttery Mt. Tam.
o Wine: Zocker "Grüner Veltliner" Edna Valley 2011. Bright, crisp minerality with a hint of earthiness that really complements and enhances those same qualities in the cheese. This pairing is all about like flavors that elevate each other!
o Beer: "Le Terrior" Sour Ale from New Belgium Brewing Co. The slight bitterness plays well off the acidity of the cheese. It has notes of citrus that marry well with the citrus in the cheese. The beer has a great effervescence that cuts through the density of the Humboldt Fog.
o Accoutrement: Plum fruit paste. The sweetness of the plum plays well against the acidity of the goat’s milk. The differing textures are also very nice.
o Beer: Saison style. The spicy and fruity flavors of saison-style beers just pops the sweet rich milk flavors of the cheese.
o Accoutrement: Raw cherry honey.
o Wine: Rioja. The fruitiness, specifically the cherry, balances out extremely well with the cheese. Try making a sangria from the rioja and enjoy with Gran Queso in warmer months.
o Beer: Pale ales, like the one from Sierra Nevada. They don’t overpower each other, but rather enhance the buttery qualities.
o Accoutrement: Quince paste and dried figs. The buttery flavor of the cheese goes really well with the delicate sweetness of the quince paste and figs.
o Wine: Sancerre/sauvignon blanc. Because the Bonne Bouche is modeled after the famous goat cheeses in the Loire Valley, choosing a wine from that region would pair the spirit of terroir.
o Beer: Ommegang Hennepin. The champagne-like body to this saison lightens the rich paste of the Bonne Bouche.
o Accoutrement: Raincoast Crisp Salty Almond and Date Crackers. The salt of the crackers will bring out more of the sweetness from the cheese.
— Cathy Strange, global cheese buyer for Whole Foods Market