Sunday, November 22, 2009


Last night's tasting was a great success. Quince, the little cheese shop in my neighborhood, looked beautiful -- full of flowers, baskets of bread. The cheese case was stocked, the shelves lined with chutneys and nuts. When people began arriving, I felt my first twinge of holiday spirit.

Our hosts, Joan Sauvion and Nicole Marcote, who own Quince, plated our three cheese selections so beautifully. We started with warm Cana de Cabra, drizzled in orange flower honey with pine nuts, and ended with a glass of sherry and a wedge of leaf-wrapped Valdeón accompanied by a bit of fig cake.

The triple-creme Brillat-Savarin proved to be the big hit -- a sensuous cheese that needs little in the way of dressing, but Nicole's idea to serve it with an apricot and some marcona almonds was a stroke of genius.

Brillat-Savarin really is a perfect holiday cheese. The texture is satiny, rich, and the flavor is mild and slightly sweet -- easy on the palate during months when most foods we eat are heavily spiced. It makes a great dessert course, so easy to prepare. Just let it come to room temperature and serve it with berries, like cheesecake. It's also perfect alongside a champagne toast -- who doesn't like bubbles and brie?

We had such a great time last night that we've already set the date for a second tasting, Saturday, Dec. 19. We haven't chosen a theme yet, but if you have ideas...hmm?

And if you'd like to sign up, down hesitate to email Nicole at Quince:


  1. I'm so glad to hear that it was a sell-out success! Please keep doing these (I'll be out of town for the December one, but I'll keep my eyes peeled for a January date)!

  2. Thanks to Quince and your tasting, Tenaya, I now have a new favorite cheese -- Valdeon. Who could resist a gorgeous, non-sharp blue wrapped in sycamore leaves? I brought some to a party, along with the cana de cabra and another cheese from Spain, I believe Joan called it Mahon (with the paprika crust.) All were quickly, completely and enthusiastically consumed!

  3. Thank you for the cheese, Tenaya! It was all very, very delicious! I can't wait for the next tasting and to see what you recommend next. Yum!

    --Lexi, (Debra's daughter)

  4. Madame F., How about a "How to do a Holiday Cheese Plate" tasting? I always struggle with the ratio of stinky to mild, the pairings, the accessories for an effective cheese plate . . . . Please help.