I call these the beer and cheese pairings largely because left to my own devices, I choose the beer first. We carry about 150 really interesting beers at Westside Market East Village, but we have well more than 200 well-made cheeses. But some of the time the cheese is chosen for me by the department managers and I roll accordingly, which was the case on Wednesday.
The powers that be left me a piece of Delice de Cremiers, a super-rich and buttery French triple cream. There are a lot of good choices for a cheese like this as its texture will highlight a variety of different flavors, but I had been stumping hard for the citrusy and stone fruit overtones of India Pale Ales as a companion with such cheeses. I decided to give that campaign a break and go with a conventional choice, Brooklyn Sorachi Ace. The beer is a saison but it’s light even in a genre of beers that are lighter in texture and temperament than most brews, and the Sorachi is highlighted by an intense effervescence. It also features a slightly lemony finish. It’s as if a cava or a prosecco was fermented with just a bit of wild yeast. That board didn’t last long, and both bottles and pieces of the cheese vanished from the inventory.
The other cheese left for me was one I would have never chosen. It’s from Roule, IIRC, the people behind Boursin, the spiced French cheese spread. This one was similar but with a swirl of red bell pepper. It wasn’t awful by any means, but the idea of connecting this cheese to an individual farmer or an affineur was completely out of the window. OTOH, this is a fancy grocery store and not a high end emporium like Bedford Cheese Shop. To pair with the cheese, I chose Fuller’s ESB. The beer had been on my mind lately as it was a favorite of Ray Deter, a man I learned a ton about beer from. He passed away in a bike accident four years ago, and I so wish that among other things he could see our beer case and know that the knowledge he passed along is being put to good use. The Fuller’s is a malty ale and I figured that the implicit sweetness would balance the creamy savory flavors of the cheese. It was well received.
It was well after 8:00 when the last board finished and I was happy not to feel compelled to rush home to watch a hockey or basketball game.