What is the #1 thing you would do if you were on a high from a big weight loss and feeling a little antsy about going on a vacation with tons of excellent food? Well, if you are me, then you join your friends for a chocolate and cheese pairing event. It is all about balance, right? Isn’t that what everyone says?! Oh Erin.
Last night I joined up with my friends, Karen and Jeanne, to head over to Taza Chocolate in Somerville for a chocolate and cheese pairing featuring cheeses from Fromaggio’s Kitchen.
Check out my previous visit to the Taza Chocolate factory for a Yelp Elite Event back in 2013.
A few tables were set up in the Taza showroom for us to sit while doing our pairing. Our hosts for the evening were Julia Hallman from Formaggio Kitchen and Suhayl Ramirez from Taza.
On a daily basis, Julia is a cheesemonger at Formaggio and also is a dry goods buyer for the store. I didn’t even realize that a cheesemonger is a real job, but it sounds AMAZING. The amount of information that Julia knows is incredible. Have you ever heard someone speak about a subject and you know that they just KNOW the subject? Not that they memorized a speech, but that they are knowledgeable and have done their homework on what they are supposed to be the expert on. This is Julia.
Suhayl spoke about Taza like she was a fan. Her love for the product and the company was evident. Her descriptions of the chocolate was spot on and I tended to agree with her assessments of each flavor combo that we tried.
The class was divided into two different cheese and chocolate flights.
Before we started, we were treated to a little amuse bouche made with goat cheese and 60% dark chocolate.
(Left) Manchester, a goat’s milk cheese from Vermont with Taza Orange Chocolate Mexicano.
(Middle) Pardou Ardi Gasna, a sheep’s milk cheese from Pyrenees, France with Taza Salt and Pepper Mexicano.
(Right) Delice de Bourgogne, a cow’s milk cheese from Burgundy, France with Taza Counter Culture Coffee Chocolate Mexicano.
It is common to pair cheese and chocolate, but I’ve never given much thought to cheese with chocolate. I was missing out. The combos above played off each other well and really brought out nuances of each other that could have possibly been missed if eaten without the other.
The chocolate winner for me on this round really wasn’t a surprise for me. I’ve loved this flavor combo since my first taste!
1st Round Taza Chocolate Winner: Salt & Pepper! A touch of kosher salt with chocolate is more and more common, but the pepper is a nice touch. It adds a pinch of spice that is perfect. This chocolate is made with 55% dark chocolate.
1st Round Cheese Winner: Manchester! This cheese was bright and tangy. It had a great rind with a fun texture. Are you a rind eater? I am! According to Julia, as long as it isn’t cloth, plastic, or will break your tooth, then you should give the rind a try!
1st Round Fave Pairing: Delice de Bourgogne with Taza Coffee Chocolate. I’m not a huge fan of coffee but I loved the subtle flavors of this chocolate as it melted in my mouth. The cheese (the little blob) was like buttah. Literally. You know when you go to a restaurant and they bring out that little dish with the butter packed into it? If you dipped your finger into it and then ate it, you would know what this cheese is like. Heaven.
(Left) Stilton, a cow’s milk blue cheese from Nottinghamshire, UK with Taza 70% Stone Ground Chocolate Bar.
(Middle) Anton Liebe Rot, a cow’s milk washed rind cheese from Germany with Taza 87% Stone Ground Chocolate Bar
(Right) Magdalena Captein, a cow’s milk gouda from the Netherlands with Taza Salted Almond Mexicano.
2nd Round Taza Chocolate Winner: Taza Salted Almond Mexicano. They use real roasted almonds in this chocolate and you can tell. The flavor is subtle, but perfect. You can easily see a trend in the chocolate that I love…SALT. This particular chocolate was easy to eat (isn’t it all?!) and not overpowering.
2nd Round Cheese Winner: Stilton! The minute they set a plate down in front of me with blue cheese I knew which one would be the winner. I LOVE STINKY CHEESE. The stinkier the better. This was a class blue cheese that was the bluest of blue. Stilton is a protected name meaning that it must follow several requirements to hold that name including it must be made with cow’s milk, use the same recipe, and be pasteurized.
2nd Round Fave Pairing: Stilton with Taza 70% Dark Chocolate. Anything with blue cheese is amazing, but this 70% dark chocolate is a great friend to this Stilton. Taza adds extra cocoa butter to chocolate to create a creamy texture that is reminds me of a Hershey bar or Kisses. It is one of their best sellers and it is easy to see why.
Just when you thought the fun was over, they brought out a surprise.
BLUE CHEESE ICE CREAM!
They paired it with a stout beer that is a collaboration beer between Night Shift Brewing and Taza.
In case you were shuddering at the idea of blue cheese, let me assure you that it was amazing. There was a bit of sweetness followed by the saltiness of the blue cheese every now and then. Savory ice cream is amazing!
I posted this combo on Twitter and Instagram last night and was greeted with a nice mixture of “Oh my gosh! That sounds amazing!” and “Oh my gosh! That is disgusting!”. Which side of the coin are you on?!
Thanks to Karen and Jeanne for a lovely work night out!
I originally was planning for Thursday to be an off day for working out, but I’m feeling like a nice sweat would do me some good.
Plus, I’m still working hard at finishing up my March DietBet and gearing up for a new DietBet in April. Sign up to join me in my first time hosting a DietBet starting April 1st!
Are you a rind eater? What are your thoughts on stinky cheese?