Monday, October 5, 2009

Falling for Cheesetique

Ahh, the beginning of fall. As much as I love the laissez-faire way of life that comes with the summer months, I eagerly anticipate the turning over of the seasons. It's the time when you feel that slight breeze during the day, you see the leaves change to their requisite autumnal hues, and you discover all the new fall merchandise arriving at the stores!

As with the seasons, it was a natural progression that a friend and I moved our weekly powwow about life, men, clothes, and shoes from her sunny poolside to cozy Cheesetique in Alexandria. We sat down and giddily talked about getting rid of our summer clothes to make room for our freshly acquired fall wardrobe, and even had a serious discussion as to when to break out our new boots! I thought, this cheese place is perfect for us cheeseballs!
A specialty cheese boutique as well a cheese and wine restaurant, Cheesetique has been a hang-out staple in the Del Ray neighbourhood it has resided in since early 2008. If you care to find out the rest of the restaurant's biography, check out this link:

Our go-to meal has always been the charcuterie platter, called "Dress to the Tens". Pick 3 types of meats and 3 types of cheeses, any additional accompaniments, and enjoy! We went on a Friday evening and ironically enough, Cheesetique still had their Spring/Summer Menu. After asking our server, we settled on Brillat Savarin, (a cheese I cannot recall and was not memorable) & Creamy Gorgonzola for the cheeses, and Porcini Saucisson, Coppa & Duck Patê for the meats.

The plate arrived with our selections beautifully displayed on a wooden board. The usual accompaniments of whole grain mustard (meh!), quince paste (yum!), cornichons (eww!) and grapes (yum!) were present, along with our splurge, the raw raspberry honey (double yum!). I've had the Brillat before and it's one of my favourite cheeses. It's like eating a spoonful of sour cream, which is great since I adore sour cream. The triple cream Brillat's texture is just so velvety, it coats your mouth with its richness. The Creamy Gorg had the right amount of stink, had a full, earthy flavor and creamy texture. Eat it with the quince paste and you are in cheese heaven. Some people have a complete aversion to eating mold, but not this gal!

The meat selection was equally delectable, with the Duck Patê and Porcini Saucisson being the highlights in my book. The patê had hints of black pepper and interestingly enough, worked well with the Brillat, due to their creamy textures. The Porcini Saucisson did not let me down. The dried porcinis in the semi-cured sausage held up, showcasing their inherent strong, almost garlicky flavour. With all these components, the Dressed to the Tens platter definitely earned its 4 out of 5 rating. If only I could say the same for the wine!

Part of Cheesetique's appeal is the conveniently located vino shop, which translates to a full wine list. Score! I'm a "big and oaky" kinda gal, so I asked our server for any suggestions. She offered a glass of Joel Gott '07 Cabernet Sauvignon. The description on the menu described it as having "blackberry and cassis with spicy oak and lean tannins" so I was pretty excited to give it a try. How was it? In two words, not good. I re-read the description again, and I suppose it was halfway accurate. But didn't the server take our food order? Shouldn't she have suggested something that would pair well, rather than butt heads with what we were eating? There were spicy notes and tannins, but what happened to the oak and cassis? The wine was unbearably astringent with the spice so overpowering that I could barely make out the earthy taste of the dried porcini in the saucisson. On its own, the wine was tolerable at a 2 out of 5, but paired with the food, it plummets to a 1 out of 5. C'est dommage.

Did I have fun? Of course! I spent a lovely fall evening laughing with a good friend. However, was it the great culinary adventure I was hoping for? Not quite. Though the food was a hit, the wine was an unfortunate miss and failed to elevate the whole meal. I'll definitely add Cheesetique to my "fall wardrobe" of restaurants, but that wine? Best to do away with it. It is so last season!

2411 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA   22301
Cheesetique Cheese & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon


Delma said...

This place is my home away from home. A good portion of my paycheck is spent here.

ChubberBaby said...

Is it not an awesome place? I only wish there were more seats inside, but I guess its small size just adds to the vibe of "exclusivity".

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