Saturday, June 18, 2011

Grilled Cheese and Beer Night Review at Andrew's Cheese Shop

Last night, we finally went to Grilled Cheese and Beer night at Andrew's Cheese Shop on Montana Ave. Anyone who knows me knows that cheese is my favorite food in the world, so I was so excited to discover Andrew's Cheese Shop while walking down Montana, not long after it opened; it's a slightly smaller version of my favorite Murray's Cheese Shop on Bleecker in New York, near our old apartment, and they carry a lot of my favorite cheeses that were introduced to me through Murray's, such as Garrotxa and Scharf Maxx. It's really dangerous for me to be walking distance from such an amazing cheese shop; K. and I used to make regular stops on our walk back after running to the beach. Nevertheless, it is so nice to have these little slices of NYC right here LA, like Joe's Pizza and Mozza; it has made the move back home to Santa Monica so much more palatable. I have been wanting to go to Grilled Cheese and Beer night at Andrew's for awhile, so I was very excited for last night and it did not disappoint. My idea of a perfect meal: five richly indulgent grilled cheeses paired with five beer tastings. It was the perfect progression of different styles of beer and cheese. We walked out the door smelling like cheese (I blame the swiss or trappist cheeses), but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's a nice way to talk to new people as everyone was seated at a long communal table. At $45 per person, it was pretty reasonable; we usually spend at least $45 per person for food and drinks for a usual night out. Unfortunately my pictures didn't really turn out because of the dim lighting, but I've posted them anyway. Also, beer taste is highly subjective and I'm still learning about beer anyway, so these are just my personal  impressions of the beer tastings and accompanying food.
We started with a simple greens salad lightly dressed with some red peppers and carrots. A good starter as greens were largely absent in the subsequent courses. I suspected that this would be the case and was prepared in advance by having a salad from Veggie Grill for lunch.
The first pairing: a baguette with an intoxicating garlic rub and topped with a mix of melted Vermont extra sharp cheddar, a little pilsner, serrano chili and a little green onion. The grilled cheese was paired with Estrella Damm Inedit, a beer created by Ferran Adria to be a good beer to be paired with food. It was quite good, very refreshing, a wheat beer with the typical nose and taste of coriander and citrus peel. Very refreshing and light. It was the perfect pairing for the slightly spicy savory melty crusty grilled cheese. Estrella was highly featured at the Adria brothers' Tickets Bar in Barcelona, and now I can see why.
The second pairing: tomato, proscuitto, basil on olive bread spread with truffle basil butter, topped with burrata and fresh ricotta and a little truffle salt. A classic Italian caprese grilled cheese with extra luxury from some truffle (which was pretty subtle), paired with Lilith Bruton, a very effervescent Italian beer that looks like sparkling rose, with a big pink grapefruit nose and a delicate finish.
The third pairing: a carrot walnut raisin bread topped with my favorite mix of Swiss fondue cheeses: gruyere, comte and Scharf Maxx and a little crunchy guanciale because everything is better with pork. The rich, melty pungent cheeses went perfectly with my favorite beer of the night: Avery duganA Double IPA, which had a lovely peach nose and stone fruit taste with a nice structured hoppy finished. At 95 ibus, it was quite hoppy, but I actually like the bitterness. I feel like the hoppiness gives the beer structure, much like acidity in wine, making it a good match for food, particularly richer, flavorful foods. IPAs are my favorite summer beers, I just find them refreshing and drinkable.
The fourth pairing: a baguette rubbed with the same delicious garlic rub topped simply with a trappist style cheese (washed rind soaked in beer). I adore stinky pungent washed rind cheese; epoisses and Cowgirl Creamery's Red Hawk are some of my favorite cheeses, so it was no surprise that I asked for seconds of this baguette. It was paired with McChouffe, a belgian ale in the belgian / scottish style, which was smooth, medium caramel flavor and a mild lingering finish. I liked it, although I found the beer a bit mild, particularly after the double IPA. Lately, I've really liked barleywine, and the caramel flavors here were slightly reminiscent of that style without the heat.
The fifth and final pairing: pungent gorgonzola dolce and taleggio tempered with a little drizzled honey on walnut bread dipped in coffee. It was paired with Stone's Russian Imperial Stout, not a surprise to finish the night with a nice chocolatey stout. I really enjoyed the Stout, it was really rich and smooth and had all the wonderful coffee and chocolate flavors that I enjoy from stouts.
Andrew's Cheese Shop
728 Montana Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(310) 393-3308

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