I attended a cheese seminar at the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. This particular class was sponsored through the New School of Cooking. There were about 12 students and we met at the store at 6:30 on Wednesday evening. First up was an explanation of several of the different olive oils and vinegars that the store sells. My favorite was the Huile d'olive de La Bastidette which is made exclusively from Lucques Olives, which we were also able to taste. We were offered a french salted butter, a BBQ sauce, pumpkin oil, avocado oil and fig preserves. I think we all tried everything offered, with bread and red and white wine (which was free-flowing.)
Next we started with the cheeses. Norbert, the owner of the store, explained that we would start with cow's milk cheeses, soft to hard, then move on to goat and sheep milk cheeses. In between we also got to sample delicious duck & truffle pate, salami with raw mustard, prosciutto, lomo (I think that's what it was called) salami, genoa salami, chorizo and other sausages.
We started with a bufalo mozzarella with muffalata on it. Norbert explained that most bufalo mozzarella is mostly cow's milk with a smaller percentage of water bufalo milk. Next we had a raw milk brie and a camembert, so we could taste and compare the differences. Then we had a French triple creme...delicious...and 10% more butterfat than butter! We also had a provincial camembert, which seemed to be cheese coated in herbes de Provence.
(Please excuse the spelling of these cheeses...I did the best that I could!)
Then we moved onto a Belgian Chimay (washed in the beer), and an amazingly smelly funky cheese called Ami de Chambertan. It was milder than it seemed it would be from smelling the stuff it is washed in but I still wouldn't eat it again! Going on to the hard cheeses we had a delicious cave-aged gruyere, a farmhouse gouda, and Parmesan-Reggiano.
Next up were goat cheeses..a Bucheron which is a young cheese. Then an aged goat cheese. The Chaubier is a goat/cow combination that was very mild. For sheep cheeses, we got to sample the Etonki from the Basque region of France, and a Pecorino Romano.
Then we tried a Spanish Manchego with a date nute cake. Delicious. A white stilton with candied lemon peel from England was like a little cheesecake. And the blue cheese sample was a delicious roquefort.
When the class was over, we were able to re-taste things we were interested in (although I personally was full of cheese for the moment!), and even sample some other cheeses. I took advantage of the class discount and bought some red wine, the olive oil, fleur de sal, lomo salami, Chimay cheese, and roquefort.
One highlight was meeting another Chowhound. I overheard him telling someone else that he had read about this course on the chowhound board, and I told him that I had posted that item! I asked Norbert if he knew of Chowhound and he had just heard about it for the first time the day before!
So if you are interested you can contact the New School of Cooking in Culver City, or you can contact the store. They also offer courses in wines and cheeses of a particular region. I think they are doing Spanish wines and cheeses next month.