The universe must think I'm a good girl lately because two of my favorite food purveyors have come together to make an event that I could swear was designed just for little old me.
The Artisan Cheese Gallery and Scoops Gelato teamed up for one night to do a cheese tasting in concert with a tasting of specially crafted gelatos made with different cheeses. Gelatos made with cheese, you say? That's a tame ingredient for the man who regularly serves gelatos with bacon, foie gras, and wasabi among other ingredients. I'll just let out a spoiler right off and say that they were all good, although there was one we missed out on that looked a little questionable. You'll see.
In addition to our cheese and gelato, we were provided with some palate cleansers of nuts, dried fruits, ginger and chocolate, as well as bread and a seemingly unlimited amount of water and pear cider.
The courses we received, were:
1. Amuse Bouche: Ricotta and Orange Blossom Honey Gelato: This was a just a subtle flavor to start us off. It was very elegant and a great advertisement for the honey, which was from the Savannah Bee Company and available for sale in the store.
2. Fromage de Meaux/Brie and Peach Gelato: Fromage de Meaux is very similar to Brie, but cannot be called Brie because it is not a raw milk cheese. French standards provide that Brie must be made from raw milk. This cheese is the closest the store has found to true Brie.
This cheese definitely had a more intense flavor than the typical "Brie" you might buy in the store. However, not being used to that intensity, I found I had to eat this cheese with bread. It was too much for me on it's own. I love cheese, but when it comes to cheese, I prefer more subtle flavors, unless it's a salty cheese, and then ... go for it. The gelato was nice. It mostly tasted of peach, which just a hint of the brie flavor underlying the fruitiness.
3. Hook's 10-Year Cheddar/Cheddar, Apple & Cinnamon Gelato: This cheddar is from cheesemaker Tony Hook, who has been making cheese since 1976. This cheese won top cheddar at the World Cheese Awards and the American Cheese Society. It was aged in a wax rind for 10 years before going out for sale.
This cheese was the universal favorite among myself and the other people I know who tasted the cheeses. It has a strong cheddary flavor and is nice and salty. Something about it was incredibly addictive and the kind cheese artisans encouraged us be feeding us more and more. The gelato was also one of my favorites, although it was very strongly cinnamon flavored than anything else.
4. Vintage 5-Year Old Gouda/Gouda & Melon: Gouda typically is aged only 4-6 months, but this gouda was aged for five years. It was very dark in color, and the salt in the cheese had crystalized making it a bit crunchy.
This gouda was very unusual. I liked the crunch of the salt but the color and texture were messing with my mind. It looked like petrified cheese. It also had quite a strong flavor and I could only eat a few bites. The gelato was nice and subtle. it was a honeydew flavor, and Tai Kim captured the melon flavor perfectly. The cheese was once again a background and I don't think I actually noticed it that much.
5. Sottocenere Al Tartuffo/Sottocenere, Truffles, and Maple Gelato: This was a cow's milk cheese under vegetable ash. It was a softer cheese with white and black truffle oil and little slivers of black truffle within the cheese. This cheese was to be eaten with the chocolates on the plate.
I liked this cheese a lot as well. I will go for anything truffle and I liked the texture of this cheese very much. It was soft and moist, but still solid and not spreadable consistency. It would probably be a good snack cheese if it wasn't truffle and not very luxurious. It is an excellent dessert cheese. The gelato was amazing. This was definitely my top flavor of gelato. All of the flavors were perfectly balanced with each other and I can't believe I got to eat gelato with truffles in it.
6. Surfing Goat Dairy - Oyster Shark Bite/
Smoked Oyster, Goat Cheese, & Olive Oil Gelato: This is a Hawaiian cheese which is a creamy goat cheese infused with smoked oyster. It's a luxury cheese that comes in small glass vials nestled in a handwoven box. Other flavors include a truffle cheese and one with 14-karat gold pieces. This ice cream didn't make it to the store, and I have to admit I was a little relieved. I am not Eddie Lin.
This cheese came in a tiny spoonful. I had vegetarians and shellfish allergies at my table so I got to eat about five spoonfuls of this. It tasted only slightly of the sea. The strongest flavor was the smokiness. If you've had a smoked cheddar spread it was similar to that, but much creamier and richer, with layer of sea.
7. Papillon Black Label Organic Roquefort/Roquefort, Pear, and Pecan Gelato: This is a traditional Roquefort cheese. Roquefort was the first blue cheese, said to be 2,000 years old. It's very strong and you had better be prepared to know you are eating mold, because there's lots of it in here.
You really have to be a blue cheese fan to eat this one. I am not. I had one small bite and I was done. It was such a pungent flavor, I couldn't take more than a tiny bit. The ice cream on the other hand was more balanced and I thought it was very nice, but one of my companions got a scoop that had a big chunk of the mold in it and she said that was all she could taste.
8. Surprise Dessert Gelato--Chocolate Bacon: Who would have thought that a cheese and gelato tasting would have two courses inaccessible for vegetarians? Luckily I am not a vegetarian.
This tasted exactly as you might imagine it would taste. It was chocolate infused with hickory smoke and the richness of delicious animal fat. I liked it much more than I thought, but I'm not sure it would be my first choice of gelato. It was very good, but I've had other flavors from Scoops that I have loved much more. Still this is the kind of flavor that you really should at least try (assuming you are not a vegetarian) because it challenges your assumptions of the "proper way" to eat food and shows that unconventional combinations can be very tasty, which means that other things you may expect not to like on hearing the concept, you might actually like if you tried it.
All in all, it was a really fun experience. I haven't gone wrong yet with these two places and hopefully I will continue to have satisfying food experiences from both.
The next tasting at Artisan Cheese Gallery will be November 10 and it will be a sake and cheese tasting evening. Call the number listed below for more info.
The Artisan Cheese Gallery
12023 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604
712 N Heliotrope Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Mon-Sat 12:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
|Friday, October 12, 2007|