Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cheese School

Sunday afternoon we began a unique adventure. We went to Cheese School. What is that? you might ask. We weren’t really sure. But it was being offered by Chef Jaimie Casey and that was good enough for us. We’ve attended two events where she’s prepared the food and we were very impressed. I had read in the San Jose Mercury News that she hoped to start a cheese school and now it is a reality.

We arrived at Hidden Villa in time for the 4pm start. Only a few minutes away, this location is like being transported to another world. It was the perfect, peaceful setting for a culinary adventure, even if it was the hottest day of the year!

The dining room table of the villa was set for the guests. At each place was a plate of a local fresh goat cheese with truffle honey, Rhinette (a soft Gruyere – like cheese washed in apple cider), seminola anise crackers, red flame grapes and mission figs. J. Lohr Carol’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc was served with this cheese plate. This was to keep us satisfied while Jaime taught us how to select a cheese vendor, choose the freshest cheese, how to properly clean and store cheese and then introduced a variety of handy cheese utensils.

Next came the rest of the cheese. Jaimie discussed how to create an enticing cheese platter and perfect accompaniments. She prepared three different platters with different themes and demonstrated how to prepare and serve them. Then we got to eat it all, comparing and testing the flavors of the various cheeses and their partners. These platters were accompanied by J. Lohr Los Osos Merlot. I tried some really strange food here – have you ever had pickled walnuts? Not something I need to eat again. One tiny nibble was enough for me.

This tray is one with savory accompaniments. All the cheeses are firm textured and there is one each of goat, cow and sheep’s milk for variety:


Cypress Grove Midnight Moon                    Warm citrus olives
Grafton 2yr Aged Cheddar                          Rosemary roasted nuts (made by Jaimie)
Cypress Grove Lambchopper                      Sliced coppa

Another highlight was the opportunity to taste Jaimie’s homemade jams. She served red plum jam on the tray with sweet accompaniments and apricot lavender preserves on the blue cheese tray. Both were delightful. And, as always with her programs, there was a surprise treat at the end. Goat cheese and dark chocolate- a decadently delicious combination to wrap up a great gathering. Hopefully, there will be more cheese school classes to come.

9 comments:

  1. You have no idea how cool it is to see the Grafton cheddar in the lineup. I live in NH but have a house in VT near Grafton, VT where this cheese is made. We visit there to pick up seconds, etc about once per month. It is the best cheddar I have ever had.

    A cheese plate with fruit and other accompiments is a goto for me. Serviing it with a selection of homemade wines ensures there will be nothing left!

    Thanks for sharing this cool experience.

    Jason

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  2. What a great opportunity, I've always wanted to take a cheese class, there are so many amazing cheeses and so much to learn about them. Thank you for sharing your experience!

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  3. Oh...heaven!!! Seriously, if there is no cheese in heaven, I'm not going! :)

    This class sounds FABULOUS! I was drooling by the end of your post, Judy.

    I remember when I went to France (20 years ago now!) after high school, as my best friend's parents were living abroad for a few years. We had dinner at their French neighbor's house. And after dinner, they had cheese and fruit for dessert. What a concept, I thought! I'd never seen such a thing. I still would choose that over ice cream any day!!

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  4. Cheese school sounds like my kind of school. I wish I could learn as much as you must have done about cheese.

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  5. Yeah, I'll be over here "guarding" the cheese tray. Don't mind me...Nothing to see here. :D

    What a great experience. I've been trying to take a cheese course at my local market but the scheduling never works out. I need to do it. This sounds fun!

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  6. I do love cheese!! that is certainly a school I would enjoy going to!

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  7. Cheese school sure beats med school any day! LOL
    What a fun, cheesy time.

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  8. (Coming out of lurker status here finally) That cheese school looks wonderful. And with jams!

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