I have been wanting to take a class at Murray's Cheese Shop for months and I knew that I had to go to the Cheese & Chocolate Pairing class when I saw it advertised. Phor felt similarly and came up from DC for the class on Friday evening. The shop alone is a place that everyone should visit.
I had 7 cheeses in front me with 6 chocolate pieces chosen specially for each type of cheese.
It was a lovely setting with unlimited wine/water, nuts, bread, and dried fruit to eat with the chocolate and cheese.
The instructors took us through each pairing starting with the chocolate. We would smell it, feel it and then break it in half before tasting it. The cheese was then described in a similar manner by sight, smell, touch and then taste. We would then taste the chocolate, letting it melt in our mouth before eating a piece of the cheese. I didn't love all of the combinations but the ones I did love are very good.
Also, the chocolate is all Madecasse Chocolate made in Madagascar with some very interesting flavors.
The first pairing was Nettle Meadow Kunik which is a triple creme from the South Adirondacks. It's perfectly creamy and it was paired with the Sea Salt & Nib chocolate. The cheese balanced out the saltiness of the chocolate.
We ate the cocoa bean before even starting the tasting to get an idea of where chocolate comes from. It was very acidic.
The cheese was so creamy and the rind added a pleasant taste to the cheese.
The second pairing was Westfield Capri, a fresh chevre (yes I want to taste this with honey) from Hubbardston, MA. This was my favorite pairing with the Pink Pepper and Citrus chocolate. The citrus is from a Madagascar lime and it almost tastes like a Thai curry.
Phor's notes - she found it Amazing! as well. We bought the chocolate in the store after the class. Our only sadness was that the larger chocolate bars in this flavor were not available.
The third pairing was Salva Cremasco which to Phor smelled like old shoes. It tasted much better than it smelled and I really loved the combination with Arabica Coffee chocolate. It's a milk chocolate with chunks of Arabica coffee and sea salt. The coffee does not overpower the chocolate.
The fourth pairing was Scharfe Maxx from the Swiss Alps. It tastes like garlic and has a major funk. I was chastised by the instructor because I said it smelled horrible. Apparently I need to be more descriptive in why I think it's horrible. It was paired with the 70% chocolate which is lovely because it has a nice cherry/red berry taste in it. I finished the chocolate but let Phor eat the cheese.
The fifth cheese is Ossau-Iraty Vieille, a raw sheep cheese from the French Pyrenees. It's paired with the Cinnamon Sakay chocolate. I liked this pairing. Very strong but the chocolate was so layered. The instructor recommended taking 10 seconds to taste it from beginning to end.
The sixth pairing was with two different cheeses. If you know me, you know my feelings on blue cheese and I was very happy to have an alternate tasting option. The cheeses were Roquefort and Roomano which is similar to Gouda but has a lower butterfat. The chocolate was the 80%. I thought the pairing was a cop out - the strongest cheese with the strongest chocolate.
Murray's has multiple cheese class options. I'm game if you ever one to take one.