Commitment. The word, alone, kind of terrifies me. But especially when it comes to my precious week nights. So, you can imagine my angst when I signed up for Tuesday evening's 2-hour "Sexy Cheeses and Sumptuous Wines" cheese course at Artisanal. Nearly two months ago...
With 45-minutes to spare, I walked across town (towards Artisanal Premium Cheese Center's brutally far-west-side abode), and grabbed a margarita at Angelo Sosa's new Anejo Tequileria & Restaurante. Although Village Voice claims that they pour NYC's #1 Margarita, I wasn't sold. Pinche gringos nortenos! Don't get me wrong, the 'rita was fine/decent, but it wasn't anywhere near the best version in town. However, the coolest part about Anejo is the fact that their strong margaritas are on-tap! Not only is this awesome in and of itself, but it cuts the time from customer order to service in half. This is music to a margarita addict's ears! Oh, and on weekends, they serve a "prixe-fix & bottomless brunch" for $38, which includes: Coffee/tea, brunch, plus all of the Bloody Maria's, Mimosas, or Margaritas you can drink! Seriously, I can't recall the last time I heard something sofa king exciting!
Shortly before the 6:30pm start time, I arrived at Artisanal Premium Cheese Center for my class. When the elevator opened to the second floor, all I saw were offices. This is the company's headquarters, after all. A friendly woman directed me towards the classroom area, which was interrupted by a gathering space. Bottles of champagne and flutes, plus a sizeable cheese board sat atop a long, rectangular table. Chairs and ottomans lined the room's perimeter.
"Please, help yourself to cheese. Fondue will be coming out shortly. We're just finishing it up. Would you like a glass of champagne?" I almost asked the employee if I was at the wrong class/location, until the instructor approached and introduced herself as "Erin, your teacher for tonight's 'Sexy Cheeses and Sumptuous Wines' class." Whoa. They sure didn't do all of this at Murray's Cheese (classes)! This fromage and bubbles "reception," if you will, lasted from 6:30-7pm, giving each student an ample amount of time to arrive, snack, imbibe, and meet fellow classmates.
Our class began promptly at 7pm. For the first 30-45 minutes, we learned some interesting history and factoids about cheese. I was also surprised to discover that this particular location was home to Artisanal's cheese caves! Hey, you've got to love creative, space-deprived New Yorkers! But, certainly, the most memorable part of the lecture came when our teacher listed her "top 10 reasons that cheese is sexy." Shortly thereafter, we began to taste our cheeses and wines, both separately and together.
- At 6 o'clock Start your cheese plate with young mild goats, double or triple cremes or bloomy rind cheeses.
- At 9 o'clock The next type of cheese should be soft to semi-firm, like a mild cow, an aged goat or a sheep milk cheese.
- At 12 o'clock Your next cheese can become stronger, bolder and nuttier like hard mountain, long-aged cheddars and mild washed rind ("stinky") cheeses.
- At 3 o'clock To finish, choose cheeses with a bigger presence, such as more assertive washed rind cheeses or a classic blue cheese like Roquefort.
The cheeses we sampled are as follows (beginning at "6 o'clock" and moving clockwise). Note that we tasted each cheese with four different wines. The "wine pairing" listed by each cheese, below, is what I found ideal with the said sample:
*The cheese plate was accompanied by chunks of fresh baguette.
- Geit-in-Stad, Netherlands: Goat milk / Sweet, mild, grainy, with a "cajeta" aftertaste. Wine pairing: Arneis Ceretto 2010, or Valpolicella Classico Superiore Riapsso Buglion 2007
- Robiola due Latti, Italy: Mixed milk (cow and sheep) / Savory, creamy, with an edible rind. Wine pairing: Viura Rioja Cortijo 2010
- Taleggio, Italy: Cow Milk / Salty, soft, melts-in-your-mouth. Wine pairing: Arneis Ceretto 2010
- Idiazabal, Spain: Sheep milk / Smoky, nutty, semi-hard. Wine pairing: Viura Rioja Cortijo 2010
- Appenzeller, Switzerland: Cow Milk / Nutty, similar in taste to gruyere. Wine pairing: Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre Cotes du Rhone Ch. Beauchene 2009
- Gouda, Netherlands: Cow Milk / Sweet, nutty, flaky, hint of caramel/butterscotch. Wine pairing: Arneis Ceretto 2010
- Roquefort, France: Sheep milk / Buttery, pungent, creamy. Wine pairing: Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre Cotes du Rhone Ch. Beauchene 2009
With about 5-minutes left of class, we were informed that, if interested, we could order any one - or all - of the cheeses that we had just enjoyed. I cannot wait to receive my gouda!
Cheese classes makes me feel so grown-up and sophisticated. Having only ever attended similarly-priced Murray's courses, I will never look back: Without a doubt, Artisanal has the classiest, most bang-for-your-buck, top-notch cheese education program in NYC. If not the country/world.
I cannot wait to take another class; in fact, I'm considering hosting a personal event here - after all, my birthday is only months away! And that's quite a big statement coming from a commitment-phobe!
483 10th Avenue
NY, NY 10018
Until we eat again,
The Lunch Belle