Win (my fabulous husband) surprised me with a cheese class/tasting the other night at Andrew's Cheese Shop on Montana Ave. in Santa Monica. We had a great time at Cheese 101, an introduction to cheese, presented by the cheese meister himself, Andrew Steiner, a casual, friendly, all around good- guy.
We were about 25 people at the informal tasting, packed in that little shop, seated on comfortable folding chairs facing the cheese cases. Andrew stood behind the counter and provided edutainment, just the right mix of information and story telling mixed with a little humor. Win and I have been experimenting making yogurt and cheese so it was easy to follow. I heard a couple behind us mention that they were feeling overwhelmed by the all of the information, not uncommon when you start learning about a new subject.
Andrew started with his bio and passion for cheese; the guy has a ton of experience with credentials to match. He then moved on to the basics and explained to us how cheese is made, aged, and named (by region in France or sometimes after a cow, as is the case with an artisan cheese maker in Washington) . By this time we were sufficiently hydrated with a little wine or water (depending on the person) and ready for some cheese tasting.There were ample amounts of cheese, bread and wine, a nice touch (I've been to other tastings where they were stingy with the samples). We tasted 6 cheeses: a Brie, Humbolt Fog, Surchoix (Gruyere style from Wisconsin), Spanish Zamora, Colston Bassett Shropshire and Fiscalini Cheddar. They provided little cards for us to take away explaining the cheese. I liked the Zamorano and Humbolt Fog the best, no surprise as I prefer sheep and goat cheese to cow's milk.
It was a fun evening at a reasonable price ($25) that left me wondering what their other tastings are like, and curious about Andrew's Cheese Shop grilled cheese and beer nights. Here's a fun pice of trivia that I learned from Andrew: Which has more fat, Brie or Cheddar? Click here for the answer.
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