March 25, 2009

Flight of the Cocktails

Last weekend my friend Dave hosted a terrific cocktail party at his home. He planned the evening so that we were all set to enjoy a new cocktail each hour, more-or-less on the hour.

My contribution, of course, was bringing the cheese. Unfortunately I didn't have enough of the homegrown variety ready to go, but a quick stop at Trader Joe's served me well. (Bonus: it's fun shopping at TJ's while decked out in your finest linens, amongst the riff-raff in their sweaty workout clothes!).

I took a few chances on the pairings. Three worked beautifully; the other two were, umm, rather lackluster. Here's the deets:

Seven o’clock
Homemade strawberry and pineapple infused vodka spritzers

Paired with Iberico. Not such a great match, sadly. The aftertaste from the cheese somehow ended up a bit "plastic-ey." Not sure what was going on there, but it was less than stellar. Dang.

Eight o’clock
Blood orange martinis with a sugared rim

Paired with Cotswold Cheddar, a creamy cheddar with chives and onions. I thought this was the biggest gamble, and boy did it pay off. Absolutely incredible! The sweet drink was balanced by the sharpness of the chive and onion -- each magically enhanced the other's flavor. Weak in the knees!

Nine o’clock
Absolut mandarin and soda

Paired with White Stilton with Apricots. The Stilton was good, but it had sooooo many apricots! A bit of a fruit overload, I'm afraid.

Ten o’clock
Dirty Dave’s filthy dirty martini

This was a surprisingly tough call. I needed something that would stand up to the olive brine, which I was sure Dave would be applying liberally. I ended up selecting Mushroom Brie. I'm a big fan of mushroom & olive pizza, so I figured it just might work. The distinct, piquant flavor of the Brie really held its own against the martini, while the mushrooms gave it a unique flavor that really helped bring it all together.

Eleven o’clock
Chocolate martinis

This one was easy. Plain Goat's Milk Chevre. Creamy, simple, elegant: "Chocolate Milkshake." Take that, DQ!

March 15, 2009

3rd Annual California Artisan Cheese Festival

Next weekend will be the 3rd Annual California Artisan Cheese Festival, in Petaluma, CA.

Alas, I just learned about this event, and won't be able to attend. If you're interested, though, check out their website -- -- and then let me know how much fun you had!