Tasting Rum, Cheese And Chocolate With The Cheese Impressario
Who could resist an invitation from a woman who says cheese changed her life. Barrie Lynn, the Cheese Impressario is a dynamo in a gold sequined and leopard print apron who hosted a special rum, cheese and chocolate last night. I've been to pairings of wine and cheese and chocolate before but never rum. But specialty rums (especially the rum selections poured by Henry Preiss) worked very well with Barrie Lynn's cheese selections.
One of Barrie Lynn's finds is Holland's Family Farm in Wisconsin.Rolf and Marieke Penterman are first generation Wisconsin dairy farmers who moved from the Netherlands to Wisconsin in 2002. They make incredible aged Gouda with rich and complex flavors. Of particular note is the Foenegreek Gouda which is creamy and distinctive. It's impossible to have one piece without immediately wanting another just to take your mouth on the same journey of surprising flavor again. It would be a rock star on a cheese plate, paired perhaps with dried apricots or grapes. The Burning Nettle Melange Gouda is also far more pleasant than the name might lead you to believe. It has a grassy herbal bite that would make it a great start to a meal.
Henry Preiss brought some of the rums he sells through Preiss imports. The interesting thing about tasting a variety of rums for me was being able to taste the difference between molasses-based rums and agricole rums which are made from fermented sugar cane. The molasses rums have the burnt sugar sweetness that is more traditional for rum while the agricole rums often have a more varied flavor profile. The rums offered by Preiss Imports come from places you might expect like the English Harbour rums from Antigua and some places you might not expect such as the Toucano rum from Brazil and the Cadenhead's rum which is aged in Scotland and takes on a more whisky-like flavor. Of particular note was the English Harbor 1981 25-year-old. This is a bottle you want to run away with and its rich toffee and spice notes made it the most decadent match for the chocolates.
Cory Baehr of Cory Baehr Imports brought some of the fine chocolates she sells. The truffles of Julia Baker Confections are almost to pretty to eat but definitely worth it. The caramel truffles are a gooey treat, a childhood pleasure made adult through artisan care and high quality ingredients. The tropical flavors of passionfruit and coconut truffles were also wonderful companions for the rums.