April 5, 2010

Sake & Cheese Tasting

New York Vintners

Sake & Cheese Tasting

Plates are Set


Nearly Demolished

Ever since B and I attended the Sake & Cheese tasting class at New York Vintners last fall, I've been wanting to recreate a similar event in my own home. So last week, I made up my mind to host a series of "Peek & Eat" events, with the first being for sake and cheese. I opened the invite to a handful of friends, but wanted to limit it to eight attendees in order to keep it orderly and intimate. To my surprise, all of the spots filled up really quickly. (Sorry to those who didn't see the Facebook invite until it was too late! I promise to make it more accessible next time!)

With the help of Monica Samuels, sake sommelier extraordinaire, we selected three different sakes:
  • Gekkeikan "Black & Gold" Junmai Ginjo
  • G Joy Genshu Junmai Ginjo
  • Murai Family Nigori Genshu
After purchasing the sake at NY Vintners, I stayed for a bit to try some wines with Monica and Jesse. Monica also gave some broad suggestions of what kinds of cheese to buy (e.g., young goat, smoky gouda, etc.)
The morning of the tasting, I went to Zabar's to select some cheeses. I had the pleasure of working with Leah at the cheese counter, who seemed to know exactly what would and wouldn't go well with sake (perhaps she's done an event like this too??) In the end, I bought:
  • Bianchina Pura Capra (pure goat) from Italy
  • Delice de Bourgogne triple creme from France
  • Maple Smoked Gouda from Vermont
  • L'Amuse Signature hard aged gouda from the Netherlands
  • and a Stilton from England
An hour before the party, I took the cheeses out of the fridge and brought them to room temperature. This is something you should always do when eating cheese, especially for a tasting.
To help facilitate the discussion, I made these little cheat sheets/review cards for everyone. Each participant would determine whether or not the sake and cheese combination worked, by rating a 0, +1 or -1. At the end, I tallied up the successes and failures. Here's what discovered:
  • Delice de Bourgogne Triple Creme with the G Joy Genshu was the biggest hit. The sweetness in both the sake and cheese harmonized splendidly.
  • Delice de Bourgogne also worked quite well with the Murai Family Nigori Genshu.
  • Bianchina Pura Capra with the Gekkeikan "Black & Gold" was another favorite.
  • L'Amuse Signature Gouda was the most consistent performer; it wasn't a hit across the room, but had a few fans for all sake pairings.
  • Murai Nigori also did alright with the Bianchina Pura Capra and the Stilton.
  • Maple Smoked Gouda was the least successful "partner" cheese. The biggest criticism was that it didn't taste smoky enough and was often overpowered by the sakes. Paired with the Murai Nigori was a total mismatch.
  • Stilton with G Joy Genshu was also a pretty big mismatch.
It was a really fun evening and I loved the fact that I was able to enjoy myself (I didn't have to tire myself out with any cooking!). I'll definitely host more of these kinds of events in the future, so stay tuned!

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More pics can be found here.


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