Artisanal Cheese Class: Italian Cheese & Wine

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NoshGirl confession: when I was in school, I was a huge nerd and proud of it!  I love classes, learning, taking notes, even (gasp!) tests.  So when I attended Artisanal’s Italian Cheese & Wine Class with my sister @cheezplease, I was especially excited! Two of my passions CHEESE and learning, combined.

When I first stepped out of the elevator at Artisanal’s education center, I was greeted with this familiar and welcoming sign:

Yay! Cheese  awaited me.  This lovely label adorns all my lovely Cheese of the Month packages.  I knew I was in for a treat!  In the reception area outside of the classroom, we were treated to a variety of cheese, fruit, crackers, champagne and fondue. Unfortunately I didn’t get to snap a shot of this lovely cheesy goodness, but it was scrumptious.

We were then shown into our cheese classroom:

where each place setting had four wines, a selection of seven cheeses, and notes and a pencil. Class was now ready to begin! We were first introduced to the concept of the Cheese Clock, which is a guide for selecting, presenting and eating cheeses.  We learned about how to taste wines and cheese together, which combinations might work better and why (A general rule of thumb: “Sheep’s milk cheese loves red wine”) and how to eat cheese (from mild to strong) so no cheese overpowers another.

Starting at 6 o’clock on the cheese clock, the cheeses we sampled that night were:

Robiola due Latti, Formaggio Capra, Pecorino delle Balze Volteranne, Taleggio, Capra Ubriaco al Traminer, Piave, and Gorgonzola Piccante!

Since this was a class, we learned some interesting facts – for example, did you know that cheeses are always cut in those gorgeous triangles you see above because the cheese tastes different as you approach the rind, and this way you get the whole taste experience? Or that Italian cheeses especially are very specific to location, and the cheeses you find in one part of Italy can be completely different from those found in another region?  Kinda makes you want to eat your cheesy way through Italy doesn’t it? I sure want to now!

Along with our seven cheese varieties, we sampled the following wines:

That’s the Friulano De Lenardo, Muller Thurgau Alois Lageder Dolomiti, Nebbiolo d’Alba Marco Porello Canale and Primitivo Liveli Orion Salento.  Yum!

I’m a bit of a wine novice, and I admit I’m not the biggest fan of reds (the tannins really throw me off), but in the class I learned how to pair certain cheeses with particular wines, and that really enhanced the flavor of each!  Hey, if all classes are about sipping wine and eating cheese, sign me up!

The mouthwatering evening culminated with some paper to wrap up cheese leftovers – I’m sure you can guess what I had for breakfast the next day!

Artisanal‘s cheese class was extremely well-run, educational, delicious and low key.  I was so impressed by the class that I’ve signed up for another of their classes: The Great Iberian Peninsula: Spain, Portugal, Wine, & Cheese.  I can’t wait!  Stay tuned for a write-up of the class next month! 🙂

Which of the seven cheeses on the clock (click through for their descriptions!) would you like to try?

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    Annie
    September 22, 2011 at 8:18 am

    How fun! I would definitely want to try all of them 🙂 but if I had to pick one it would be the one at 6 o’clock!

  • Reply
    Jessica
    September 22, 2011 at 8:58 am

    I agree, I’m not usually a fan of red but paired with the right foods, they can be bearable. 😉

  • Reply
    kelsey
    September 22, 2011 at 9:36 am

    I’m with you, if class is about sipping wine and tasting cheese, sign me up! What a fun class! I need to do more of those.

  • Reply
    Kim
    September 22, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Love cheese school! It’s so fun and delicious! I could probably eat an entire wheel of that gorganzola (my fave!)

  • Reply
    Geek in Heels
    September 22, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Confession: after your last cheese post, I was craving cheese so badly that I made a late-night grocery run to get some brie and crackers! You’re killing me here, woman!

  • Reply
    Heather
    September 22, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Wow — what an awesome class! I would love to try the Gorgonzola Piccante!

  • Reply
    Catherine
    September 22, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    The Robiola Due Latti looks and sounds divine. I want cheese SO bad. There really isn’t cheese here in Zambia and what you can get isn’t very good.

    I’m really interested in the class. Actualy, I’m hoping to register for a cheesemaking class when I get home.

    • Reply
      Serena
      September 28, 2011 at 3:11 am

      Oh, I hope you do! I’d love to hear about it!

  • Reply
    honeymyheart
    September 22, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    mmm. i would love to try tallegio and robiola due latti 🙂 i heart cheese!

  • Reply
    Terri
    September 23, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Oooh! This looks like lots of fun! I may have to try one of these evenings. I keep meaning to do something like this.

  • Reply
    Cheezplease
    September 23, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    one of the highlights of my academic career.

    • Reply
      Serena
      September 28, 2011 at 3:11 am

      Ditto. SO ditto.

  • Reply
    Amy
    September 26, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    unnnngh droool. I’d fail this class just so I could take it over and over again. Do you get a cheezploma at the end of your class?

    • Reply
      Serena
      September 28, 2011 at 3:12 am

      My question is – is the cheezploma edible?

  • Reply
    Tabitha
    September 26, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Um, I too was a super nerd (and proud of it) and so I just have one question:
    Where can I sign up for graduate level courses in wine swilling and cheese nibbling?

    That class looks fantastic and there is no way I could pick just one- I want to try them all! Which was your favorite?

    • Reply
      Serena
      September 28, 2011 at 3:13 am

      That sounds like the perfect class….I’d love to be your classmate ;). My favorite, oh geez – so tough to pick! I loved the Gorgonzola and the Robiola, but they were all amazing!

  • Reply
    Katie
    September 28, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Oh my goodness, how FUN! I am totally like you: I love classes/learning new things! And if it involves wine and cheese, even better! I had no idea about eating the cheese in triangle shape like that; it makes sense! Now I want to do my own taste test….

  • Reply
    Südtirol
    October 5, 2011 at 5:34 am

    Täler und Berge Südtirols…

    Herbstzeit ist Wanderzeit. Und die dauert auf der Südseite der Alpen meist länger als auf der Nordseite……

  • Reply
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