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Old 11-16-2007, 09:27 AM   #1
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Welcome back the cheese course!

Okay, maybe it never left....but it seems to finally be making a long anticipated reappearance here in America. Within the last 3 years, I've noticed that more upscale ($30 entree/plate) restaurants are offering cheese courses again, either before dessert, before the entree or in place of dessert. Several years ago, I had the great fortune to dine at Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia. That was the first time I'd seen such a serious cheese course. Although we were all heady with wines consumed with dinner, I recall how lovingly the waiter described the origins and flavours of each cheese...all 20 of them. At that point, I was hooked.

Since then, I've dined in a few places where it's been offered, usually with 6 selections to choose from. Recently, I hosted a dinner party, offering a cheese course before the dessert course. I choose 3 cow's milk cheeses, 2 sheep's milk and one goat's milk cheese. They varied from very soft to firm, with as equal a variety of flavours.

It was difficult to decide on a wine to pair with this course. I could pair a wine with each cheese, or I could simply attempt to pair with cheese, in general. That's what I opted to do with a pinot gris, which had a palate cleansing effect. It was very clean and crisp, a perfect choice. I was amazed at how well the course was received, too. I feared that my guests wouldn't appreciate the flavours, especially since it was the fourth course, and the fourth type of wine. Was I ever wrong! The cheese that remained on the platter after the course wasn't even enough for the mouse in 'Twas the night before Christmas'. The course was a huge success.

I spent an hour in the cheese shop (DiBruno Bros) in Philadelphia. The sales associate was more than happy to spend that kind of time, offering samples of each cheese he presented. I took notes, so I'd be able to offer the same descriptions to my guests. The course was fun, tasty and educational at the same time. My suggestion is to serve a cheese course at some point to guests. They'll love it. Ultimately, it would be best if you can shop in a specialty cheese shop. You'll get more personalized service than simply buying cheese wrapped in plastic at the supermarket.

So....anyone else in love with the cheese course? Please share!

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Old 11-16-2007, 10:05 AM   #2
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My wife and I went out for a romantic dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Tomasso Trattoria. They offer a cheese course and it was something I was looking very forward to. Unfortunately, we were way too stuffed to get it when the time came. I believe they did have about 6 cheeses that they served and they sounded amazing. We promised each other that we would go back there for just drinks and cheese someday.

I love cheese and am thrilled that the cheese course is making a comeback.
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Old 11-16-2007, 10:33 AM   #3
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Okay, maybe it never left....

It never left my house! If there's a cheese course on a menu, you can be sure I'm ordering it. We stayed at Auberge du Vieux-Port in Montreal this year. They had an incredible cheese course, featuring Quebec cheeses. The A****er Market had at least two specialty cheese stores. They were very helpful in providing information about the cheeses, and more importantly, samples.
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Old 11-16-2007, 12:19 PM   #4
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Loprraine, what did you post that got *** out?
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Old 11-16-2007, 12:25 PM   #5
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It's the name of the market. Let's try again. a****er
That didn't work. Separated into two words. At water
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Old 11-16-2007, 12:28 PM   #6
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ROFLMAO!!! OK, I can see how that one got caught.
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Old 11-16-2007, 03:44 PM   #7
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My wife and I went out for a romantic dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Tomasso Trattoria. They offer a cheese course and it was something I was looking very forward to. Unfortunately, we were way too stuffed to get it when the time came. I believe they did have about 6 cheeses that they served and they sounded amazing. We promised each other that we would go back there for just drinks and cheese someday.

I love cheese and am thrilled that the cheese course is making a comeback.
See, that was my fear when serving the course. I thought everyone would be simply too gorged to fit even a simple wafer... Yet, the entire course was devoured. When I want to enjoy the cheese course at a restaurant, I'll forego dessert, opting for a nice cognac instead.
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Old 11-16-2007, 03:44 PM   #8
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Okay, maybe it never left....

It never left my house! If there's a cheese course on a menu, you can be sure I'm ordering it. We stayed at Auberge du Vieux-Port in Montreal this year. They had an incredible cheese course, featuring Quebec cheeses. The A****er Market had at least two specialty cheese stores. They were very helpful in providing information about the cheeses, and more importantly, samples.
Do you recall what you drank with the course?
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Old 11-16-2007, 05:06 PM   #9
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Well, unfortunately, I don't. I know it was one they recommended. I kept great track of the names of the cheeses etc, but not the wine. I do have pictures of the glass! ( We took lots of pics of the different presentations etc). The good news, we're going back right after New Year's. I'll see what they recommend, and report back. I'm kind of old fashioned, I love Port with cheese. I've never really thought of pairing it with different wines.

" I'll forego dessert, opting for a nice cognac instead. "

Me too. In Quebec, it's been popular for years. Maybe because they really promote their artisinal cheeses. It's a standard here. With maybe just a bit of dessert.
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Old 11-17-2007, 08:18 AM   #10
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I love port, but usually pair it with chocolate. The port seems to fill my mouth so much, I think it would 'coat' it, masking the flavours of the cheeses. When you go back to this place, see if they have a wine that is crisp and dry...or try something that has the flavour of nuts coming through. I think you'll like it.
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Old 11-19-2007, 07:53 AM   #11
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Will do, thanks for the suggestion.
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Old 11-19-2007, 09:11 AM   #12
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I've never tried port and chocolate, but would be great!

However, I do believe that strong flavours of heavy wines and cheeses work too. I think of it like strong flavours in food: some delightfully surprising contrasts make the best meals: like when orange cuts through duck, or the mouth coatingness of coconut work well with a similar penut butter spiked with lime....

In Uk I live just to the south of real Cheddar country. Apple brandies and ciders are traditional beverages with cheddar, this sadly not being wine country. We are also blessed to have a huge variety of lesser known cheeses, including some great goats cheeses and just over the border in Dorset, one of my favourite blues, Dorset Blue Vinney.

One of the greatest revelations of living in Italy was eating parmesan as a cheese not just as a topping....oh and the quality of the cheese......anoher favourite was the gorganzola, so soft and creamy, with walnuts.

MY DH is a cheesoholic too. We take cheese VERY seriously in this household. An example: while at university (in UK) my DH got the hankering for some good French cheeses, and so got on a train, went to France, ate his fill of cheese and came home wandering slightly late into the next mornings lectures :)
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Old 11-19-2007, 04:10 PM   #13
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<~~~~~ cheeseoholic, too
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Old 11-19-2007, 08:56 PM   #14
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I believe I will try the Port and Chocolate...
was going to serve cheese on Saturday nite and NO one could eat ANYTHING LOL
Love cheese as well, soft cheeses are my favourites bring on the cheese course!
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Old 11-20-2007, 01:20 AM   #15
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I'm salivating over the cheeses I purchased at Trader Joe's for my cheese/fruit course for Thursday:

Apricot Stilton, Dill Havarti, Jalapeno Jack, Port Cheddar (man is it gorgeous!), fresh mozz pearls, & one I'm too lazy to go look at - it's 2 cheeses that are perfectly striped together.
I'm bummed that I couldn't get the blueberry stilton - they're out!
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Old 11-20-2007, 06:12 AM   #16
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I believe I will try the Port and Chocolate...
was going to serve cheese on Saturday nite and NO one could eat ANYTHING LOL
Love cheese as well, soft cheeses are my favourites bring on the cheese course!
Rom, 2 years ago, my boyfriend and I visited a local vineyard for a tasting and class on the four seasons of wine making. We finished the class/tasting with a port the vintner had created several years earlier. He insisted we try it after first enjoying a piece of dark chocolate. We then rinsed and tried it without the chocolate first. The difference was amazing. It is as though port was made, or chocolate was made....to be enjoyed together. Let me know what you think.
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Old 11-20-2007, 06:13 AM   #17
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I'm salivating over the cheeses I purchased at Trader Joe's for my cheese/fruit course for Thursday:

Apricot Stilton, Dill Havarti, Jalapeno Jack, Port Cheddar (man is it gorgeous!), fresh mozz pearls, & one I'm too lazy to go look at - it's 2 cheeses that are perfectly striped together.
I'm bummed that I couldn't get the blueberry stilton - they're out!
I love the blueberry stilton, especially in the summer, down the shore. I've been enjoying a lemon stilton recently. Gorgeous stilton with candied lemon peel throughout.
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Old 11-20-2007, 07:30 AM   #18
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"I love the blueberry stilton,"

We used to only see that one ( and a cranberry one) during the holiday season. Now we're getting them year round. I bought one in Montreal with truffles in it that was great.
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Old 11-20-2007, 10:46 AM   #19
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I love the blueberry stilton, especially in the summer, down the shore. I've been enjoying a lemon stilton recently. Gorgeous stilton with candied lemon peel throughout.

Lemon Stilton???
I have never heard of it - I must find some~!
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Old 11-20-2007, 01:05 PM   #20
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Hey, I just realized it was you!!! It's so nice to see you again. I hope you are well.....and able to find that lemon stilton soon. It's amazing.

Again, how nice to see you!
xoxo
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