One of the nice things about the holiday season is all the festivities and food. On Wednesday, December 9, I got to do something a little different—I went to a cheese-tasting event at The French Cheese Board on 39th Street in Manhattan. It’s a chic, clean, modern space where you can purchase your favorite French cheeses.
The event was promoted by The Baddish Group, a PR firm that specializes in food and beverage marketing, and they offered a sumptuous spread of several different cheeses, from Camembert and brie to Raclette and butter made with sea salt. They were all so fresh and flavorful that I couldn’t help going back for more. I watched as others kept going back as well, which made me feel kind of bad for the kitchen staff. They were definitely being kept hopping trying to replenish the table. A server came by with a few different hors d’oeuvres: Mac & Mimolette, Brie and Grapes on a canape, and Raclette & Potatoes. The mac ’n’ cheese was so good in its simplicity, cheese and grapes is a classic combination that can never go wrong, and a potato slice with a piece of Raclette on top was divine.
It was a warm, friendly gathering of people in different segments of the food industry. A couple of us were food bloggers, while others were buyers, chefs, and marketers. I’m sure that other professions were represented. Despite the incredible and uncharacteristic warm weather, a simple, lovely Christmas tree along one wall reminded us that it was the holiday season. I think that always puts people in a better mood.
My favorite cheese, by far, was the Mimolette, a pumpkin-colored cow’s milk cheese. It’s a firm cheese, which is my favorite kind, but I really liked it for its smooth, sweet flavor. Which leads me to my favorite drink of the evening.
They asked mixologist Natasha David from Nitecap, a bar on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, to come up with some cheese-inspired cocktails for the event.
Natasha created cocktails that were not only inspired by cheese but that actually used cheese. And not just in the final concoction—her creations were made with spirits that were infused with cheese.
I asked Natasha what her method for the infusions was, and here’s what she said:
The infusions were quite simple—I let the cheese sit in the booze for a certain amount of time, then strained them and froze them so that all the fat would rise to the top and then strained again. I did that twice over 48 hours.
For the Mimolette Rind—I used 50 g of rind to 1 750 ml bottle of Calvados for 7 hours.
For Camembert—I did 60 g of Camembert to 1 750 ml bottle of Dorothy Parker gin for 5 hours.
For Bleu—I did 50 g to 1 750 ml bottle of Linie for 2 hours.
From there, the mixologists at the event concocted the three drinks below to accompany the hors d’oeuvres. I’m going to give an infusion a try at some point—it will definitely be a new experience for me. If you do it yourself, let me know how it turns out. Enjoy!
Cheese-Infused Cocktail Recipes
Cocktail #1: To accompany the Mac & Mimolette, a Mimolette Rind-Infused Calvados cocktail
2 oz. Rind-infused Busnel Calvados
0.75 oz. Lemon Juice
0.5 oz. Simple Syrup
1 barspoon Bon Mama Fig Preserves
Method: Shake, Strain
Glass: Double Rocks glass with Big Block of Ice
Garnish: Grated Mimolette
Cocktail #2: To accompany Brie and Grapes, a Camembert-infused Gin cocktail
2 oz. Camembert-infused Dorothy Parker Gin
0.75 oz. Lemon Juice
0.5 oz. Ginger Syrup
1 barspoon Lingonberry Preserves
Method: Shake, Strain, Top w/ Seltzer
Glass: Highball with Kold Draft
Garnish: Candied Ginger
Cocktail #3: To accompany Racelette & Potatoes, a Bleu d’Auvergen-infused Aquavit
1.5 oz. Blue-infused Linie Aquavit
0.75 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth
0.75 oz. Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1 tsp. Pickled Tomato Brine
Method: Stir, Strain
Glass: Nick and Nora or Martini
Garnish: Blue cheese stuffed Pickled Tomato