Artisanal Fromagerie Bistro and Wine Bar on Park Avenue in New York is a temple to outstanding cheese and wine, with a fromagerie boasting a rotating stock of over 200 soft and hard artisanal cheeses and a bar with over 600 bottles of wine on offer. This bustling upscale French bistro transports diners to Paris with Art Deco style, classic white tablecloths, and the smell of fondue and freshly baked bread wafting in the air.
Artisanal’s fromager Charles Mahal, along with sommelier Geza Horvath, have kindly teamed up to provide NewsWhistle with five excellent Artisanal cheese and beverage pairings.
Cheese 1: Kunik
Made by Nettle Meadow Farm located in Thurman, NY, Kunik is a mixed-milk, triple-crème goat’s cheese with Jersey cow’s cream added. It has a white-molded outside with a creamy, buttery center. The cow’s cream mutes the acidity of the goat’s milk, producing an approachable cheese with a clean finish.
Pair with: Santenay Blanc 1er Cru, “La Comme Blanc,” Château Maltroye, Burgundy, 2006
This is a slightly oxidized, elegant Old World white: to match the buttery quality of Kunik this Chardonnay extends a similarly nutty finish with the cheese. Almonds and aging, with an acidic finish that balances out a heightened butterfat.
Cheese 2: Barely Buzzed
Barely Buzzed is an American original made in northern Utah. The sweet, Cheddar-like center contrasts with the hand-rubbed rind. The rind of ground coffee and lavender gives the cheese a sweeter finish with definite notes of coffee and flowers on the finish.
Pair with: Jose Cuervo Tequila Reserva de la Familia Extra Anejo
To accompany the sweeter, lingering finish of Barely Buzzed, this aged Tequila has a Bourbon-like sweetness, high in alcohol to provoke the caramel and butterscotch undertones of the Barely Buzzed. An unusual pairing that avoids the norm, do not be afraid to introduce a raw honey or an organic Agave syrup to drizzle over a slice.
Cheese 3: Le Brebis de Wavreumont
Le Brebis de Wavreumont is a Belgian tomme made in a monastic-style. The rind can be sticky and funky, leaving the inside firmer and quite flavorful. A rich, meaty cheese with a sheepy finish. Great, big flavors from a small production cheese whose smell will linger on your fingertips: eat with fork and knife.
Pair with: Crozes-Hermitage, “Petite Ruche,” M. Chapoutier, Rhone Valley, 2010
A gamey northern Rhone with the fullness of flavor to stretch out the wet wool of the Wavreumont. Rich tannins in the Petite Ruche help to envelope the animal edges, landing the Wavreumont fully on the tongue-the finish is so long.
Cheese 4: Wildspitz
A rich alpine wheel from Kaeserei Vogel located in Steinerberg, Swtizerland. Wildspitz has a drier texture with a concentrated, nutty finish. Mostly organic cow’s milk, lively Wildspitz plays with Alpine tradition with the addition of about five percent organic goat’s milk. Shall appeal to fans of Alpine kings: Gruyère, Beaufort and Comté.
Pair with: Sárga Muskotály (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grain), Patricius, Tokaj, 2012
This Tokaj has an Alsatian-style lean to its delivery: so perfumed and aromatic on the nose, grasping the pushiness of the Wildspitz. To seal the deal, the dessert wine produces a level of brilliant acidity that cuts well into the full, concentrated flavor of the aged Wildpsitz.
Cheese 5: Bayley Hazen Blue
Made by Jasper Hill Farm located in Greensboro Bend, VT, Bayley Hazen Blue is an enviable creation. Perfectly balanced between salty and tangy, Bayley Hazen Blue opens up brilliantly with each passing moment outside the refrigerator. Fudge-like in texture, Bayley Hazen Blue has a rewarding, spicy finish. Do not serve too cold!
Pair with: Kaid Late Harvest Syrah, Alessandro di Camporeale, Sicily, 2009
This magnificent Syrah offers the rich flavor profile of a ruby Port: spicy, earthy, complex, all adjectives that will match a wedge of Bayley Hazen Blue. Bayley Hazen Blue is complex enough to offer this wine its far edges of flavor.
About Artisanal Bistro:
Artisanal’s new owner Sarid Drory (pictured above, center), previously of the Waverley Inn, carefully selects artisanal producers from all corners of the world, from Europe to North America, and then ages the cheese to serve at peak ripeness.
Additionally, Drory only hires master cheesemongers and sommeliers to provide diners with delicious seasonal cheeses and perfect pairings.
Artisanal’s fromager, Charles Mahal, who has worked at the restaurant for over 11 years, says the restaurant’s cheese and wine program today has grown substantially under Drory’s leadership and is now “better than ever”.
Growing up in a family with deep agricultural roots including shepherding and cheesemaking in Sicily, Mahal says food has always been the highpoint of his family life, and he has now paved a career out of this passion.
“At college in Vermont, I felt compelled to participate in the motivated local food scene which led me to begin cutting artisan cheeses at the Middlebury Natural Food Co-op.”
Mahal knows everything about the hundreds of cheeses at Artisanal – from the name, to the animal milk, country of origin and its history.
He works alongside Artisanal’s Sommelier and Beverage Director, Geza Horvath, who considers the age, intensity, texture, and flavor of various cheeses and graciously suggests delightful pairings.
For more information on Artisanal Bistro visit www.artisanalbistro.com.
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Lead-In Image Courtesy of valeriya_sh/Shutterstock.com
Image of Sarid Drory Courtesy of Artisinal Bistro