Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cheese Tasting at Le Café du Marché in London

Last Thursday’s cheese and wine tasting at Le Café du Marché was exactly what was needed to slough off the late-January blues.

The restaurant is hidden down a cobbled alleyway just off Charterhouse Square: one of those charming surprises that London tucks away in odd corners. It’s in a converted Victorian warehouse - all huge windows, profusely flowering window boxes, white-painted brickwork and pretty signage. Our event was up a spiral staircase in the upstairs room - featuring very handsome exposed beams, warm brick and delightfully French decorative touches.

I immediately sensed I was in good hands with the staff, who briskly whisked away my coat and proffered a welcoming glass of sparkling rosé. After a brief chat to meet the other Qypers present we all sat down to the main event.

Tom Badcock of Cheese Cellar and Joel Lauga of Great Western Wine had prepared an amazing evening of cheese and wine pairings. Tom especially is a fabulously over-the-top cheese genius (“I grew up on a farm milking goats”), and I scrambled to type notes on my iPhone as Joel’s parade of wines took swift hold of my freshly-detoxed January brain:

“Cheeses are dynamic - they move”;

Thistles are coagulants - hence “milk” thistles - but the ancient Romans used snails to coagulate their cheese;

“Swiss Vicherin killed more people than any other cheese” (Tom was particularly strong on European cheese culture wars);

And perhaps the comment of the night:

“The best Roquefort is put down a cave and stroked for six months by French troglodytes.”

Tom explained that blue cheeses only go with sweet wines, and illustrating the point perfectly was Joel’s choice of 2008 Domaine Castera Cuvée Privilège - a divine wine which is definitely going on my must-buy list.

Tom Badcock from Cheese Cellar (photo by Tiki Chris)

Another stand-out pairing for me was the 2009 Gewurztraminer Classici DOC, Alto Adige, Colterenzio with lactic goats cheeses. I also loved the Rioja with the Vicherin (Mont d’Or).

Cheese-wise it is unfair to expect me to pick a highlight as anything cheesy rocks my world, although I came away with a firm resolve to eat more Vicherin (in season NOW) and to hunt down a Lancashire bomb.

Our hosts at Le Café topped the evening with more Rosé and a wonderful spread of charcuterie and crudités. To finish, a fudgy and deeply flavoursome rhubarb sorbet. What an amazing restaurant - I highly recommend a visit; in fact I am planning to go back for my birthday next month.

Thanks Qype for arranging this truly stunning evening.

Check out my review of Le Cafe Du Marche - I am hedgiecc - on Qype

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