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Next wine tasting: Cheese from around the world

By By Stan Torgerson / wine columnist
Sept. 17, 2003
Beyond a doubt, our two most popular wine tastings are those in March and September. These feature cheese from around the world matched with appropriate wines.
The cheese is always unique or in short supply and unavailable in the Meridian area or the state of Mississippi. The lineup for the Sept. 25 affair includes cheese from Italy, Switzerland, England, two from France and an unusual, believe it or not, stunning triple cream from Louisiana.
The lineup
We have selected the Fromager D'Affinois, a double cream cheese from France.
Its triple filtration of cow's milk gives the D'Affinois a texture like silk and a flavor that is mild, yet delectably full and pleasing. It is made in the area of the French Alps. Cedric Martin, owner of Martin's famed wine cellars in New Orleans, says this cheese is his favorite and his stores handle a very large variety.
We will also serve L'Etivaz from Switzerland. It is an Alpine cheese in the Gruyere family. L'Etivaz is made from the rich summer milk of Swiss cows grazing on mountain grasses, flowers and herbs. Full-flavored, slightly salty and nutty, similar to Gruyere, only better.
Goat's milk cheeses vary widely in flavor but we found one that is both mild and pleasant. It is the French Bucheron made by Saint-Saviol in Poitou. In 1970, it was among the first of its kind to be imported to the United States and it is now found in most French cheese departments in our country.
English cheese
The English cheese is the Lincolnshire Poacher made by a fourth-generation farm family in the Lincolnshire Wolds, just 5 miles from the English east coast.
It is handmade and unpasteurized, made from a traditional recipe using milk from a herd of 170 Holstein cows. Lincolnshire Poacher is only made between October and May. Since the herd calves in the autumn, cheese is not made in the summer months.
Lincolnshire's credentials are almost awe-inspiring. This cheddar cheese was the Supreme Champion at the British Cheese Awards in 1996-97 and won gold medals in both 1997-98 and 1998-99.
It is the only cheese to receive three consecutive gold medals at the British Awards. It will come as no surprise that this is the most expensive cheese to be served.
Triple cream
Our discovery from Louisiana comes from the Bittersweet Plantation in Gonzales. It is a triple cream, meaning it contains a minimum of 75 percent butterfat.
The cheese was created by Chef John Folse, owner and executive chef of Lafitte's Landing Restaurant at Bittersweet Plantation.
The shelf life of this delicate but wonderful cheese is only three weeks, so they recommended they ship it to me the week of the tasting rather taking it home from the store. We followed their advice.
Folse is known as Louisiana's Culinary Ambassador to the World. His awards include "National Chef of the Year."
Finally, we like to serve a blue-veined cheese at each tasting, knowing that's a cheese that people either love or hate.
For this tasting, we have selected a Gorgonzola from the Lombardy region of Italy that is marvelous. It is 48 percent butterfat, smooth and creamy, more moist than stilton and more buttery than roquefort.
But it is powerful and not made for the weak-hearted. One critic described it as "awesome" and added, "I am constantly grateful a cheese this good exists."
Bremner wafers
As usual, the wonderful Bremner wafers will be served with the cheese. For those of you who have never tried them, they are the finest cracker available to be eaten with wine and cheese.
The wines are being chosen now, and they will complement the cheeses with which they are paired. There will be a cabernet, a chianti, a zinfandel, a chardonnay, a muscat, probably a pinot gris and a door wine, not yet selected.
Seating is limited since we buy just enough for the anticipated crowd and cannot run back to New Orleans at the last minute to purchase more.
The tasting is presently 75 percent sold out. If you wish to attend, it would be a good idea to call 482-0930 and make your reservation.
Reservations are required. The date is Sept. 25 at Northwood Country Club with our usual 6:30 p.m. starting time.

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