Molto Formaggio The Cheese Shop provides the perfect set up for a date with its class on paring cheese and wine flights. For $75 per couple (classes are limited to 10 couples) you get to try three wine flights, three cheese flights, other food accompaniments to mix and match with the various wines and cheese, and a gift bag containing a bottle of wine and two cheeses from the class.
My date and I attended one of the monthly classes on a Sunday in late July, along with 18 other eager wine drinkers and cheese eaters who crowded into the quaint cheese shop.
Molto Fomaggio's first course comprised on the white wine flight: Burno Verdi Pinot Grigio, Clarendelle Bordeaux, and As Sortes. The accompanying cheeses were a Morbier, a Cabrin, and a Montenebro. Julie Robertson, Molto Fomaggio's manager and wine buyer, gave us detailed explanations of each wine and cheese. Participants called out whether the dried apricots, Marcona almonds or Fauchon confit of mirabelle and gewurstraminer paired better with the wine or cheese.
Julie shared how "there was a lot going on with the pinot grigio" and "how the wine really showed the grape." She told us how a white Bordeaux is made from sauvignon blanc grapes and the Spanish wine was made entirely of godello grapes. Julie also knew that the As Sortes came from the northeast corner of Portugal.
Rose wines comprised the second wine course along with a delicious triple cream cheese called Delice d'Bourgogne, a Heublumen and a Valencay. (A shop employee told us that the Valencay, topped with vegetable ash, is no longer made in a triangular shape because of Napolean. When the French leader saw the pointy tops of the goat cheese he demanded that they be cut off so that he wouldn't be reminded of his military defeats in Egypt..
For the third course, Molto Formaggio served red wines and white colored cheeses: a Montgomery Cheddar, an Iberico Curado and an Ossau-Iraty, the house favorite. This course had the most amount of accompaniments, a cherry and grape must syrup (Mosto Cotto), an Italian blackberry jam that was more like a preserve because of its lack of pectin, truffle honey and a piece of mocha chocolate. While Julie told us we didn't need a lot of the truffle honey because it tasted so strong, we disagreed. We could have each slurped up at least 10 of the minuscule plastic spoon servings.
If the above isn't enough information about the class, after the jump are answers to some of your anticipated questions:
Should you get to the class early? Yes. The cheese shop is tiny. Ten TV trays with legs are set out in between the cheese case and the wine shelves. But if you arrive at early you'll be able to snag the corner table; a real table that has oodles of room. If you're stuck at a tray, get ready for some close quarters. Your knees will touch your neighbor's -- the neighbor who's not your date. And you'll likely drop a thing or two. We lost our sheet for notes and pen a couple of times. By the time we got to the third flight I overturned my plate of cheese.
Should you eat dinner before or after the class? It depends on your size and if you want to get completely blitzed on a Sunday afternoon. If you're smaller size or like to always be in control of your faculties, City of Ate recommends you eat a pre-wine class snack. If you want that afternoon buzz, attend the class and then get some dinner at Marquee Grill or have $1 bellinis for dessert at Patrizio's.
Is the goody bag worth it? The goody bag we got came filled with a bottle of Rioja Vega and blocks of Montgomery Cheddar and Morbier, a semi-soft French cheese with a layer of vegetable ash in the middle to separate the morning and afternoon cow milkings. So, yes.
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The class lasted about an hour and 15 minutes. Several participants said that they learned a lot in the shop's first pairing class (the cheese shop has held more theme-type classes in the past, like autumn season cheeses, and has never had this many flights of wine) but would promptly forget it on their drive home.
The best part of the pairings class is how Molto Formaggio provided 10 couples with a two-for-one date. The bottle of wine and two blocks of cheese from the gift bag are textbook items for another date -- or continuing your date at home after the class.
Molto Formaggio 68 Highland Park Village 214-526-0700