Friday, December 18, 2009

Having to deal with fame and Italian cheeses

Word about this blog is starting to spread and one of the downsides to fame (hahaha) is that there is more pressure to perform…or in this instance, to keep my blog updated! ACK! So yes, I am a week late in writing about Italian cheese class held at the Wine Merchant in Clayton ( I could make the excuse that I left for Chicago (again) last weekend, and that I have been sick and busy all this week, but instead, I will just write.

After visiting France last month (via cheese class), it was time to visit Italy. I wish I could say that each country has a specific style, but I have a feeling that tasting six cheeses does not quite cover the full gamut of styles of cheese for just one country. That is why I keep going back month after month…there is always something new to try and always new wines to be paired with. My studies will never be complete, as there will always be more.

I was disappointed that there were only a couple of white wines offered for the evening, and both had a bit more edge than I usually like, but it worked out well because it meant more stronger-flavored cheeses were offered.

I didn’t get excited until the third cheese, a Robiola - a cow, sheep, and goat blend from the Piedmont region. It was soft and creamy, much like a French chevre, with just a little bit of gooey edge. What a full-flavored cheese! This paired GREAT with the Barbera red wine. Unfortunately for my buddy Curt, he was completely turned off by the goat smell and taste but it worked out well in the end because it meant more for me! Hehehehe

Another top pairing was the Testun, a cow’s milk cheese from Barolo, which was paired with a Barolo red wine. “What grows together, goes together.” The cheese had a hard texture and wasn’t too far off from the next cheese, a Pecorino Toscano, but the Pecorino was almost too bitter to be eaten straight.

The evening was finished off with a Gorgonzola…a moldy, stinky cheese that I could certainly do without. Of course it was paired with a dessert wine that was also over-the-top in its sweetness.

Simon Lehrer, returning as cheese monger at the Wine Merchant, was kind enough to provide a few bonus treats on the table in addition to the six pairings. An assortment of crackers, salted Italian olives, and the classic, Parmigiano-Reggiano (that I could eat everyday of the week) were also offered to us for mixing and matching with the various wines.

Here is the complete listing for the class. Cheeses are listed by name – milk type – and region of Italy:

2007 Villa del Borgo Pinot Grigio $13.99 – Toma Piemontese-Cow-Piedmont
2007 Abbazia Di Novacella Kerner $24.99 – Veneto de Estate – Cow – Veneto
2006 Sandrone Barbera D’Alba $39.99 – Robiola – Cow, Sheep, Goat – Piedmont
2005 G. D. Vajra Barolo “Albe” $35.99 – Testun - Cow - Barolo
2006 Petrolo Torrione Toscana $42.99 – Pecorino Toscano – Sheep – Tuscany
2004 Nicoli Recioto $44.99 – Gorgonzola Picate – Cow - Milan

And while I did eat out MANY times this week, the meals worth reporting came during my weekend in Chicago. The first night of Hanukkah was celebrated with an assortment of dishes from Maggiano’s restaurant ( – one of my all time favorites (special thanks to Hector). And for my trip home, thanks to my big bro, I got to bring back some Chicago-style pizza from Edwardo’s (

While attending two wine events in the same week was hard, I am a little sad that all classes are pretty much on hiatus with the holidays. On the bright side, there are more classes coming up in January that I’ve already signed up for!!

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