Wednesday evening’s beer and cheese pairings were driven by price points. I don’t want the sample board to get a reputation as solely the province of $30/lb cheese and $15/bottle beers, though I often promote items in that price range. So I planned to sample the Harpoon Ghost King ($8.99), an Imperial White IPA. I chose it because I’ve softened my resistance to the brewery too. I’m not a big fan of their routine beers, they’re okay but to my palate far from New England’s best, and when I see their ubiquity resentment begins to grow in me, though really it’s no fault of the brewery. I like their big bottle special projects and I figured if anyone else shared my bias, a taste of their wheat India Pale Ale would soften them too.
Wheat IPA’s are sweeter and smoother than regular India Pale Ales and they are less sweet than conventional wheat beers. To me, this increases the range of pairing options and we have Fromage D’Affinois on sale this week for $10.99/lb, so I went with that. FD’A is a richer creamier French brie and very mild in flavor. I chose to sample it on slices of what we call a Russian focaccia. It’s a dense pumpernickel bread with onions. The combination worked nicely though I kept toying with the idea of putting half of a raspberry on top of the cheese to take further advantage of its buttery texture. Yes, I’ve been made privy to some of the Perfect Pairs at the upcoming Cheesemonger Invitational, and it always brings out the mad scientist chef in me.
Upon finishing the Fromage D’Affinois, I was eager to see how our shoppers would respond to a cheese with just a little more tang in the finish, so I switched to Nancy’s Hudson Valley Camembert, a sheep’s milk softy that is super buttery at the start and just a little tangy in the finish. I had to use an onion focaccia with that one as the Russian ones sold out.
On my way back to reload the board, I got into a nifty conversation with a couple that are trying to systematically explore the new beermaking going on in the NYC metropolitan area and were curious about a new small brewery that we don’t have yet. That led me to choose a Great South Bay Blonde Ambition, but before I could open it or choose a pairing partner, we had two customers in a row looking for beers that inexplicably weren’t on the sales floor (well, no, there’s an explanation, the stock guy doesn’t speak English, doesn’t know beer and largely doesn’t care). So I spent the rest of my shift digging out Ballast Point Sculpin Grapefruit and the Central Waters Mudpuppy Porter from the stock area downstairs (and yes, as luck would have it both were on the bottom below six cases of more routine beer). I like that the clientele come in and ask for great beers even if they don’t see them, but I would have liked to put the Blonde Ambition on the board. By the time I finished my stock chores, it was 8:10 and the puck was about to drop in Game 1 on the Stanley Cup Finals. I love cheese and I love beer and I love introducing new ones to an unsuspecting public, but I also love this current iteration of the Blackhawks.