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Five surprising cheese pairings from Casellula’s fromager

At Casellula, a sleek Hell's Kitchen wine bar known for its inventive cheese pairings, fromager Tia Keenan knows the rules well enough to break them. To compose her intricate cheese plates, Keenan draws from her lengthy cheese list and a rotating selection of house-made accompaniments (preserves, sauces, pickles and amazing confections). She can match wine and cheese in her sleep, but Keenan prefers to play around with less common combinations. Here, she suggests five unconventional pairings:

Cheese: Andante Dairy Minuet
Pairing: Gus Extra Dry Ginger Ale soda
Why it works: A spicy, sparkling soda cuts through this extra-creamy goat cheese from California, which Keenan supplements with a ginger-plum compote and tarragon syrup.

Cheese: Zurwieser
Pairing: Brooklyn Brewery "Local 1" ale
Why it works: A crisp, Belgian-style wheat beer is a natural mate for this rare cow's-milk cheese from Bavaria. On the side, sweet lemon curd and crunchy raisin macaroons complement the hoppy brew.

Cheese: Gorgonzola Piccante
Pairing: Manotsuro "Four Diamonds" sake
Why it works: Dry, floral sake offsets the richness of this pungent, salty blue from Italy. Punchy wasabi-pickled green beans add a nice crunch.

Cheese: Mahon
Pairing: Dansk Mjod "Viking Blood" mead
Why it works: Reminiscent of sherry, this honey-based wine goes nicely with a sharp Spanish cow's-milk cheese; crunchy sunflower-seed brittle adds nuttiness on the side.

Cheese: Beehive Cheese Co. Barely Buzzed
Pairing: Alvear "Solera 1927" Pedro Ximénez sherry
Why it works: Chocolate and coffee are surprisingly happy bedfellows here: A semihard cow's-milk cheese encased in a coffee- and lavender-dusted rind with a crispy dark chocolate feuilleté and raisiny sherry. Buzzed, indeed.

Casellula, 401 W. 52nd St.; 212-247-8137 or casellula.com

Caselulla 401 W. 52nd St. New York NY 10019 212-247-8137

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