Formaggio - Queso Royale!

Queso Royale - an epic showdown between two excellent cheesemongers. Would Tyler or Adam come out on top? Most of the classes I've been to have been taught by Adam, so I know he puts together an excellent cheese plate, but Tyler was tough competition!

Round one was goat cheese paired with 2011 Les Argiles Vouvray from the Loire Valley, France. Tyler started out strong, with Enrico Rosello Robiola from Piedmont, Italy, Arraya Citron Preserves from Pyrénées, France, and Concord Grapes. Adam created a Honey Goat Croquette, which featured Tronchetto al Miele from Piedmont, Italy, and a boozy pear sauce made from Bartlett Pears from Calvados. Not an easy choice, but I went with Tyler this round.

Round two was another tough competition, this time using cow's milk cheese served with Mystic Saison Renaud from Massachusetts, USA. Tyler paired Kirkham's Lancashire cheese from Lancashire, England with Rosemary-Maple Muscat Grapes. Adam fought back with a Gruyere slider made with Gruyere Alpage from Switzerland, Speck from Alto Adige, Italy, and an apricot- glazed onion confiture featuring Ardeche Apricot Preserves from Provence, France. Again, the vote was tough, but Adam won for me!

Sheep cheese was up for the next round, served with 2010 Claus Preisinger Zweigelt from Neiderösterreich, Austria. Tyler used one of the best blue cheeses I've come across, Roquefort Vieux Berger from Auvergne, France, and served it with fruit-nut bread, Cerises au Soliel from Piedmont, Italy, and Lo Brusc Miel de Montagne. Adam answered that excellent mix of flavors with an excellent dark chocolate and sheep cheese cookie with a tart cherry in the middle. The cheese was Brebis Ekiola Ardi Gasna, from Pyrénées, France, and the chocolate was Callibaut 60% Dark Chocolate. Blue cheese is amazing, but the chocolate cookie was so wonderful, so Adam won this round.

Round four was Autumn themed, serving fall foods with Crispin English Cider from London, England. Tyler started the round off strong with a plate of Spanish and Portugese comestibles. La Oveja Negra cheese from La Mesa, Spain, was served with citrused Marcona almonds, Iberican ham, and pumpkin jam from Algarve, Portugal. Adam responded with one of my favorite dishes of the entire afternoon, maple-roasted squash risotto with brandied cranberries and golden raisins. The risotto was made with Parmigiano-Reggiano from Emilia-Romagne, Italy, and was SO good. Plus, I was able to take home the adorable little pumpkin!

Round five allowed for complete creativity- both 'mongers got to pick any cheese and any beverage, which lead to some great combinations. Tyler began with Reypenaer VSOP from Zoeterwoede, Netherlands, served with Vanilla Caramel, Caramelized White Chocolate with Nibs, and Candied Citrus Peel. A 14-year single-malt scotch from Oban completed the tasting. I've been to the Reypenaer Tasting Experience in Amsterdam, and it's ranked as one of the top experiences in Amsterdam for a reason- wicked good cheese!

Adam finished the afternoon with a White Chocolate and Brie Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Drizzle and Hazelnut-Caramel Crisps. It was served with 2008 Murgo Brut from Sicily, Italy, which wound up being an amazing palate cleanser after all that rich cheese. Adam won again for me, but overall, Tyler won for the entire class! Realistically, I think the audience won, since we got to try all of the delicious dishes! :D


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