Cheese Week in New York Review - Cheese Moves to the Top of the Board


Cheese Week

February has been a month of great days…Valentine’s Day, Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday, Thank a Mailman Day, and President’s Day. The calendar lists three dozen more highly commercial observances for February, such as National Chopsticks Day, White T-Shirt Day, and Bubble Gum Day, with another three dozen days and weeks, some serious, some humorous or blatantly commercial, to follow in March and monthly, through 2017.

Cheese as art

The French have been celebrating Cheese Day Paris and they exported the event to the states this year, where it expanded to Cheese Week in New York, Feb. 21st to 26th. The week has been marked by tastings at the French Cheese Board, a delightful salon for cheese in TriBeCa, and at Murray’s Cheese Shops in Greenwich Village and Grand Central Station, as well as several restaurants such as the upscale bakery and restaurant chain Maison Kaiser which joined the cavalcade with standards like onion soup and croque monsieur and cheese plate specials.  The cheese promotions, for the most part, have been well lubricated with wines from Chateau Tourril, a Languedoc -based producer with a wide range of Mediterranean wines.


Leading French chefs from the Maitres Cuisiniers de France and American culinary figures were enlisted to prepare lunches anddinners built around great cheese. The kickoff event was a five-star lunch at Bar Boulud, near Lincoln Center.  Chef Alexander Burger of the host house prepared two courses. He started with canapes featuring  goat cheese from California and a rich Gabietou, from Mon Fromagerie in Roanne, France.  Burger also prepared the main course, a succulent braised pork shank with crisp broccoli rabe, accompanied by pommes aligot, a potato puree enriched by a comte cow’s milk cheese from Fromagerie Arnaud.


Irresistable cheese

But I’ve jumped a course, a smoked duck, goat cheese and potato tatin from Chef Herve Malivert of the International Culinary Center in New York City. This appetizer was paired with a duo of Minervois  wines from Chateau Tourril, the 2016 Helois and the mature 2011 Panatella.

Which is best?

The highlight was a cheese platter, assembled by Anna McGorman of Bar Boulud. The American chef featured two brands from the United States created by French-trained cheesemakers. Her spotlight fell on Alouette, a brand widely distributed in the states, showing its Etorki Reserve and Saint Agur Intense.  The Etorki, a sheep milk product, which originates in the Basque region of France and made domestically in the Amish region of Pennsylvania. The Saint Agur Is a mild double cream blue cheese. Dessert was a terrine of spice cake and pear and a quenelle of walnut ice cream crowning a cream of Roquefort terrine.


Later that day there was another preview for cheese week at the Cheese Board in Tribeca. It was great fun to roam the shelves, sampling great cheeses from Fromagerie Henri Hutin, Fromagerie Arnaud Saint--Marcellin, and offerings from Cantal and St. Nectaire.  Here we could accompany our cheeses with wines from the Tourril portfolio, such as Cuvee Philippe, which went beautifully with the Saint--Marcellin, and Panatella and Roussanne, whose fruit and freshness matched well with Canal and St. Nectaire. American based chefs who participated in Cheese week included Bernard Liberatore of Core Club, Pascal Petiteau of Bistro Vendome, Jean-Louis Dumonet of the Union Club and Olivier Desaintmartin of Zinc and Caribou Café in Philadelphia.


And the best wine is..

Do not be concerned for the future of American cheese.  It’ll be celebrated all out in 2017. June is National Cheese Month and there will be all sorts of events promoting the domestic product. Many events, of course, will be focused on Wisconsin, the nation’s leading state for cheese production and cheese promotion.



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