Beer, cheese and chocolate?
Yes indeed. Beer, cheese and chocolate at a tasting held in a basement establishment in the East Village by the name of Jimmy's No. 43, and hosted by the New York City Degustation Advisory Team.
Now, while you may not associate the words "tasting" and "beer", when combined with the right foods, beers really do have a lot to offer to discriminating palate. Although I might advise one not to meet up for a beer before going to a beer tasting. Those last beers were pretty delicious, but I fear they were mostly lost on me.
Beer and cheese and chocolate can all have similar characteristics that in the right circumstances can enhance one another and leave your mouth wanting more out of sheer deliciousness. A stout, for example, made when barley is cooked dark before used to make the brew, goes well with nutty and smoky foods like a smoked gouda, a sharp cheddar or a chocolate hazelnut truffle. Beers with creamy heads that froth in the mouth combine well with creamy cheeses or rich milk chocolate. How delicious can beer and chocolate and cheese be when consumed together with intent? My companions were doodling stick figures having sex on the program. 'Nuff said.
Try a Chimay with a milk chocolate truffle and a hint of a smooth cow's milk hard cheese and tell me I'm crazy. I dare you. You'll have a most exciting and unexpected dining experience.
The Degustation Advisory Team introduced us to a self-styled chocolate critic, Charles Gordon, who attempted to tell us how Belgian chocolate could come from Peruvian beans that were treated in Italy, but all we really paid attention to was the delicious melting nuggets of Maya Gold on our tongues as we sipped an ale.
I have to say it transformed the way I thought about beer. For the first time, the mainstay of frat boys the world over had developed the air of a delicacy. I've had good beers before. I know that there are excellent Belgian ales and then there is Milwaukee's Best, which is a sad and sorry misnomer. But never before had I considered that a beer had characteristics and nuances like a wine could. I was actually tasting the beer, almost like it was the first time I'd had a beer, and savoring its individuality.
Next month, a friend and I are attending a Bacon, Beer and Cheese Tasting. I'll let you know how it goes, although I'm bound to appreciate anything that involves the word "bacon."