wine, cheese, friends, and gratitude


God has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. – Ecclesiastes 3:11-13

And Now for Something Completely Different:

“And now” – as many a Monty Python skit was introduced – “for something completely different.”

Thursday evening Rebekah and I spent a delightful couple of hours with good friends, enjoying a wine and cheese pairing event at Orrman’s Cheese Shop in North Raleigh’s Lafayette Village.

with Bob and Mitchie at Orrman’s

Rebekah doesn’t drink, but she loves both great cheese and great friends, so “two out of three ain’t bad”. For me it was three out of three, so that made the evening a win-win-win.

The event, limited to twelve participants, was co-sponsored by Orrman’s and Bottle Mixx, a craft beer and wine shop on Creedmoor Road. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the five wines were all Italian, and the cheeses were chosen for their similarity to formaggio with complementary characteristics in Italy.

PAIRINGS: I’ve only been to one wine-tasting event before, in Northern Italy with Andrew and Alicia; and – although we’ve enjoyed great selections of Italian formaggio – this was our first official cheese-tasting. The evening was, as are all great experiences, a fun opportunity to learn.

IMG_0222First Josh – who works as a “monger” at Orrman’s, would introduce a cheese, explaining its history, crafting process, and unique characteristics. Then we’d taste a small sample of the cheese while Josh fielded questions. Samantha – from Bottle Mixx – would then pour a small sample of the vino, talk about the nuances of the selection, and we’d try them together.

The progression moved from left to right across our cheese board (you’ll notice the third and fourth cheeses in the picture above were eventually switched), from mild cheeses and light wines to sharper, more aromatic cheese selections and full-bodied wines.

I’ll present the pairings (wine labels, with the cheese captioned) in the slideshow below, and they were all very good, as individual wines and cheeses. But the best pairings, in my opinion, were the following:

  1. Pecorino Balze Volterrane (formaggio from ewe’s milk), produced in and imported from Tuscany – paired with the 2013 Gran Passione, a Merlot/Corvina blend from the Veneto region.
  2. The Calvander cow’s milk cheese from the Chapel Hill Creamery, paired with an amazingly flavorful Sangiovese/Cabernet blend from Tuscany.

IMG_0237I absolutely loved the first two (milder) cheeses, but I’m not a huge fan of white wine; so while I appreciated the pairings, and would definitely buy the cheese, they were simply preparation for the best to come. The final pairing, a not-over-the-top blue cheese from Kentucky along with a sparkling, bright red, was a fun way to finish.

DEVOTION: I understand there’s almost always the expectation of a devotional tie-in from my posts, so I have included the above passage from Ecclesiastes to remind us that God has created good things for our enjoyment. Living a life of faith – I believe – includes learning to appreciate more and more of the amazing creativity and craft that goes into making the most of this good Earth.

IMG_0232It’s all too easy – and all too common – to live a life of bland routine. The way we “do” faith can also suffer from the same quality of creative neglect. I am learning to appreciate the flavor and the zest of both faith and food, and I especially enjoy all that God generously shares with us when we are in the company of the people we love.

So I am grateful, and I am blessed. Life is so very good. – DEREK


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