I once said that it makes no sense when restaurants display the calories of each item (people will eat what they want to eat, regardless). Well, while browsing in Au Bon Pain this morning, I naturally gravitated toward the muffin/croissant section. Then I saw it… 410 calories for a muffin!!! Needless to say, I left with a banana and an apple instead. So, I guess it works.
We are so proud to report that Washingtonian Magazine has just named Cheesetique's Cheese & Wine Bar as one of its 100 "Cheap Eats" for the third year running! What this means is that you can enjoy an ample meal in the Cheese and Wine Bar and still have something left over to grab something in the shop
Thank you SO MUCH, Washingtonian Magazine!
I love Cook's Illustrated. Perhaps it's as simple as the fact that it caters to both sides of the personality: foodie and geek. One reads not only about flour, for instance, but which flour performs best in blind studies of various recipes. It's like Food & Wine crossed with Popular Science. Today, I had the privilege of reading Christopher Kimball's editorial, "Zero Degrees of Separation", in the July/August issue. This is a column that anyone who cares enough to read this blog should read. In other words, if you are a cheese person, you are a "Zero Degrees of Separation" person.
While reading Mr. Kimball's thoughts, I was reminded of my own sense memories. The arrival of a new, pillowy soft-ripened cheese from Australia with a downey rind soft as a baby's bottom. The damp, fetid scent of a perfectly mature cave-aged Stilton. The distinctive smell of a cheese that is past its prime. Frankly, there is no other like it and the second it hits your nostrils, there's no mistaking. (Note to all you Cheesetique mongers: sniff early and often!)
Thank you, Mr. Kimball, for providing us with the perfect foodie/geek resource issue after issue. But thanks especially for reminding me to keep the degrees of separation as limited as possible.
We just stumbled upon a farm in Sweden that makes moose cheese… for $500 per pound! Considering moose are massive (or should I say "moosive") and really testy, I can't say I'm surprised. Apparently, it takes two death-defying hours to milk a moose and all you get is one gallon – and maybe a broken bone or two. The funniest thing about this farm is that they also point out the other attractions for visitors – fishing and golf. As if watching some poor fool try to milk an 1,100-pound moose isn't enough of a diversion. Those Swedes are just so cooky…
I laughed. I cried. Ok – I didn’t actually cry, but the pillow-esque mini clouds of deep-fried ricotta dough did make me a little misty. Combine that with the hot pepper fudge and berry and saffron crèmes and it was a little piece of heaven. But wait. It actually gets better… how, you ask? Well, imagine indulging in the aforementioned treat while a woman with a flower in her hair strums a ukulele and smokily sings “It’s so sweet what you’ve got” while a steam-punk-inspired man plays kazoo behind her. Huh?
Where is this place where culinary excellence is combined with synchronized performance art… and card tricks? The answer, my friends, is Sensorium.
Sensorium is a festival of the senses. The idea is to simultaneously engage all five of them (well, actually, six – there was a fantastic fortune-teller scene). As we ate, we were endlessly entertained by a collection of “hosts” who were fearless, energetic, and yet totally warm and approachable. The whole affair took place in a geodesic dome on the DC waterfront. Don’t know what a geodesic dome is? It’s a dome that’s geodesic. Duh.
Anyway, on to the food. I picked some of my favorite courses to tell you about, though there were twelve in all – and none disappointed.
The evening started with the amuse bouche, a liquid-filled “kir royale” sphere that we theatrically combined with the granules on the left. Only once you shoot it do you realize the granules are actually high-end pop rocks that frizzle in your mouth and serve as the ultimate palate cleanser (who knew?). It was both retro and progressive. And did I mention that as we were frizzling, the hosts were doing a lively imitation of human pop rocks? Yeah.
The most luxurious fennel salad I’ve ever tasted. The fennel was actually velvety, due to the addition of Gorgonzola (nice use of cheese, by the way!).
Pork belly on a chair. Yes, that is a little chair. And a little table. With a green onion on it. And the pork belly is SITTING IN THE CHAIR. It was delicious, but I don’t think the Chef would be surprised to hear that playing with the tiny furniture afterward was the highlight of this course.
I debated including this photo because I am betting that there is no other machine like this on earth and others would be dying to replicate it. But it was so amazingly cool and I couldn’t possible do it justice with only words. This is the before-dessert palate cleanser. Lemon pudding in tiny spoons is frozen solid using liquid nitrogen that is piped through copper valves table-side. Needless to say, after much wine and general merriment, each of us wanted to stick our tongues in the liquid nitrogen. We were cautioned against it, thankfully.
During courses, the hosts entertained in every possible way, from dancing… to reciting monologues… to wearing huge fish on their heads and “swimming” about… to doing card tricks. Here I am participating in one of these tricks. I totally SWEAR I have no idea how my seven of hearts ended up in his other hand. He was right next to me, as you can see. Guess I’m just that easy to distract.
Yes, this is a man with a huge woven fish on his head. His movements, the lights, and music would have you convinced you were under the sea. Behind him is part of the geodesic dome. As you can see, it’s geodesic.
When I saw Chef Bryon Brown at the end of the evening, I gushed. The performance artists mingled with the contented crowd and I just wanted to be near them in order to absorb their incredible energy. Each and every one had given their all. At first, you can’t believe they can do this without being embarrassed (strutting like chickens, jumping around in hysterics while yearning for something both “COOL" and "SAVORY"). Then, once you relax and embrace the experience, you wish you had the same ability. That is how wonderful they were.
Thank you to Bryon and his whole cast for giving us an evening we will not soon forget – and might never be able to replicate. Cool and savory indeed.
* For the sake of full disclosure, I should tell you that we are friends with Bryon Brown, the Chef and creator of Sensorium. We have dined at his roving supper club (Artisa Kitchen) and he is part of our personal supper club as well (yes, we’re lucky). As such, I was prepared to fake it, just like that friend whose kid is kinda homely but you ooh and ahh anyway (come on – you’ve all done it). Well, I very quickly realized that there would be no faking required.
There are so many things to rave about this holiday season at Cheesetique.
1. Want to have a mellow but festive New Year's Eve? Cheesetique is having our annual New Year's Eve Dinner. Reservations are required. Read more here…
2. Need a gift? Purchase our beautiful gift cards online. Read more here…
3. Seeking that perfect hostess gift? Our specialty buckets do the trick every time. Read more here…
4. Entertaining in your home? Nothing serves you better than a gorgeous, ready-to-serve cheese platter. Read more here…
I'll be presenting "Starting with Cheese" on Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 13 & 14). It should be a grand time! Plus, super-food-personalities Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray, and Paula Deen will be there. But really, you'll be coming to see me, right??????
Sadly, this is but the first sign of the impending winter weather. Don’t fret – the patio will be back next Spring. Something to look forward to!
You MUST check out our upcoming Italian Wine Spectacular! It was so popular (sold out in TWO hours) that we added a third date: Monday, November 1st. Read more and sign up here.