THIS BEER + THIS CHEESE Will Blow Your Mind. Seriously.

| 10/29/2008 10:42:58 AM

Tags: NYC Real Food, honey, artisan cheese, craft beer, hooch, pairings, taste tests, food review,

Doppelbock and Hoch Ybrig
Several months ago, I participated in a honey-and-cheese pairing at Murray’s Cheese in Greenwich Village. Among the many miraculous marriages tickling my palate that evening, the great standout was Swiss Hoch Ybrig cheese drizzled with Connecticut buckwheat honey. On the tongue, the two blended together into an almost-dead-ringer for an old-fashioned butterscotch candy: butterscotchey, carameley, toasty and supersilky, but without any aftertaste of candy preservatives or too much sugar. So basically, something perfect. That was eight months ago and I can almost taste it still, if that tells you anything.

The cheese itself is in the Gruyere family so it’s dense and a little elastic to the bite but creamy as it melts, and it has the nutty, farm-ey flavors that come from aging (affinage). But this raw cow’s milk beauty is washed in white wine many times over the course of many months by a rock star. The rock star … I mean affineur … responsible for Hoch Ybrig is none other than Rolf Beeler. Google “Rolf Beeler” if you’re looking for a new hero.

The complement of buckwheat honey from Red Bee Apiary in Weston, Conn., was rich, velvety, nutty, molasses-dark and positively luscious. (If you’ve never had honey like this, then you probably have no idea what honey is capable of. Go out and get you some!)

The two different treats, each so unique, blended together into this incredible and oh-so-welcome new flavor. It was completely distinct from either the honey or the cheese, and stood alone as a new kind of yummy for me. What a perfect pairing!

What’s this about honey? I thought you said cheese and BEER.

Indeed. This weekend I attended another Murray’s pairing — a “standoff” actually. We tasted several cheeses, each with both a wine and a beer, then voted on the winning pairs. When I realized Hoch Ybrig cheese was on our plates again, I could barely wait to find out what we’d be tasting it with.

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