Beer and Cheese Pairings June 8

htdamber Monday at the store (Westside Market, East Village) was busy in every way. I walked in and was immediately sucked into three straight purchasing meetings. I had just enough time to figure out what beers to add to the program this week (The Audacity of Hops from Cambridge and the Knee Deep Deranged) before another pair of purchasing meetings gobbled me up and I looked around the sales floor was teeming with customers, what’s with this rush? Oh, it’s 6:15, it’s supposed to be busy now, but where did the last four hours disappear to? No matter, I almost ran for the sample board and created pairings to hawk. The first offering paired the Norman cider, Cidre du Rhuys, a clean sparkling cider with a funky finish. I recall when the sales rep first presented it to us, he called the finish sulfurous, which is true, but a lousy way to actually sell a product. It reminded me of a cheesemonger I worked with in my early days at Bedford Cheese Shop who was fond of describing the aroma from wonderful, Northern Italian cheese, Brescianella Stagionata as reminding him of old band aids. I was the junior member of the crew but I could barely resist looking at him and asking “dude, really?” Anyway,” funky” works for me as does “woodsy.” I paired the cider with the Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, an easy choice, though in an uptempo environment (nearly everyone who stopped to taste, created a traffic jam behind them), it was hard to explain that this cheddar was different from other Cabot Cheddars. Nevertheless several pieces of cheese and bottles of cider moved during the first round. I had enough cider to do a second pairing so I chose Brouere, the French alpine cheese, figuring that if the nutty sweetness of the Cabot Clothbound had worked well with the cider, then so should the nuttiness of an alpine classic. The pairing was well received. For the next pairing I figured I should hawk the Fromager D’Affinois again, so I paired with rich creamy brie like cheese with one of the closest things I have to a sparkling wine, no not the Brooklyn Sorachi Ace, though that occurred to me, and no, not the Almanac Golden Gate Gose, which would also be a good pairing. Instead I chose Hof Ten Dormaal Amber, a yeasty, intensely fizzy Belgian farmhouse ale. I love the savory flavors and dry finish of the Amber, so I could prattle with unabated enthusiasm. However, most of the customers who indulged in the beer took it and walked on, which is okay but a little deflating. These pairings have provided a gateway for so many customers to investigate the high end of the beer case or the cheese section, so I always hope to generate some dialogue. Nevertheless, when that board finished I looked at my phone and it was 8:30, about a half hour after I normally leave, so packed up quickly and hit the door. There’s a great beer bar/bottle shop/fromagerie around the corner and down the block from the store called Milk and Hops. I was in need of their signature BLT and a Kolsch. The funny thing about working with beer is that the first thing I need when I leave work is a pint of one.


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.
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