Cheese and Beer Pairings May 11

37 years ago and a couple of months before I packed my bags and moved to New York City, my Godmother took me to lunch to have what she called a “savvy session.” Over lunch we talked and told stories. Then just before we parted she looked me sternly in the eye and said “you must remember these two concepts: always have a poker face handy and maintain very thick skin.”
It was some of the best advice I’ve ever received and it serves me well, even, perhaps especially working with the Gotham public in matters of artisanal cheese and craft beer. It may be harder than you think to give away free samples of great cheese and beer to New Yorkers, which part of what I do for at Westside Market East Village. More than half brush me off as a nuisance, someone interfering with their train of thought as they shop. Still others show no listening comprehension so that even though I’m announcing “our cheese and beer board features the Marcel Petite Comte and Founder’s Breakfast Stout,” about one in ten grab a piece a cheese and plunge it into a sample cup of beer as if it were a condiment (one memorable fellow did that then upon *discovering* it was cheese and beer, took it out of his mouth announced he didn’t consume either and put the half eaten piece of cheese back on my board).
Anyway, last night someone topped that loser. I was circulating with a complicated pairing, an especially ripe piece of Chevrot matched with Westbrook White Thai, a Belgian wheat beer, brewed with ginger and lemongrass. The Chevrot was a bit stronger than what I’d usually choose to sample to our public, but it was given to me by my boss, so I went with it. Many people loved the cheese (we sold three pieces during the 20 minutes of circulating) and others loved the pairing in general (we also sold two six packs of the beer). But as I was heading back to the cheese counter to reload, a woman saw the board and shouted “what’s that you’ve got there, it looks like urine samples!”
Every verbal response I could conceive in the milliseconds that followed led down a dark alley, so I just glared at her. “Oh it’s not” she exclaimed with mock surprise. I calmly explained the products and she responded, “you just don’t understand my sense of humor;” and with that, she turned down a nearby aisle and disappeared. Yeah, thick skin and a poker face, yeah indeed.


About jmartin437

I've worked in and around the world of high end cheese for 27 years. I've been everything from a department manager who hired and fired and trained staffs to a weekend warrior who shows up ties on an apron the middle of a rush and talks to customers and cleans up the place. I enjoy it all, and I especially like my current situation conducting informal seminars about cheese at area bars and in class at the 92nd St. Y. The current schedule is always up at In addition I conduct private events that are perfect to lead off birthday parties for foodies and sommeliers and also they make great entertainment for corporate team building events and associates meetings at law firms. In addition, I've been a freelance journalist for 27 years. Currently my profiles of leading musicians and filmmakers appear in the Wall Street Journal and I also wrote about sports for the Root, and for five loooong years, which included the entirety of the Isiah Thomas Knicks era, I wrote about the NBA for the New York Sun. I enjoyed writing about basketball so much that I now do it here at rotations for free.
This entry was posted in beer, cheese, culinary, food, foodie. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s