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Last year, it was my New Year’s resolution to learn more about cheese.

In pursuit of this knowledge, I decided to take a cheese pairing class of month at the lovely Curds&Co in my area. It’s a fabulous cheese shop owned and managed by an awesome team of women.

Over the course of twelve classes, I got to know the management team well (shoutout to Marisa and Gillian!). My “Stay Gold, Horny Girl” sweatshirt definitely prompted discussion when I wore it to a class and that turned into me explaining the site and floating the idea by of a class inspired by romance novels. It’s the kind of idea that you think is great but really freak out when someone actually takes you up on it and that’s exactly what happened! I received an email the next day with plans to develop a fun Valentine’s Day class that paired cheese with romance genres.

The classes usually have four cheese that are paired with wine and various accoutrement. I’ve never had a bad pairing and props to the team for never repeating a cheese during my twelve classes.

The actual class I co-hosted was great! We had thirteen people, some of whom were friends whose support warmed my heart. Marisa was my co-host and she would introduce the bites, I’d talk about the subgenres, and then she’d continue with a more in-depth discussion about the particular cheese. People were free to ask cheese or book related questions at their leisure. Afterward, the entire shop (minus alcohol) is 10% off to attendees!

Now I’m sure you’re curious about the pairings; this was before the wines were poured and all were served chilled:

An overhead shot of a tray with four cheese portions with jelly and bread slices. Above the tray are four glasses for wine and a larger glass for water, and a fork. To the right are a copy of The True Love Experiment by christina Lauren and The Lily of Ludgate hill by Mimi Matthews, and below that a tasting guide

Adventure Romance (Top left)

Cheese: Toma Della Rocca by Alta Lange in Italy
Food pairing: Gochujang Chile Sauce by We Love You
Wine pairing: Sangio by Union Sacré in California

Adventure romance is supposed to be thrilling and is all about battling the elements, so this pairing has a bit of pepper and spice. I cannot recommend this sauce enough; it’s a staple in our household. The cheese is a mix of sheep, goat, and cow leading to a variety of textures. Sometimes the cheese is creamy. Sometimes it’s a bit more dense and cakey. Adventure romance often has characters in unfamiliar environments, which is why we paired a more traditional Italian cheese with a Korean sweet and spicy sauce.

Forbidden Romance (Top right)

Cheese: Taleggio
Food pairing: Unicorn Garden Jam by Brin’s
Wine pairing: Foxi by Fondo Bozzole in Italy

I mentioned that a lot of forbidden, erotic romances have a focus on billionaires and are a luxury fantasy. This jam has pomegranate, strawberry, and rose. It was made in conjunction with The Met where the labels are inspired by works of art. This label was inspired by “Unicorn in Captivity.” The wine was a little fizzy, reminding me of a champagne, and the cheese was smooth and silky.

Historical Romance (Bottom left)

Cheese: Wrangeback by Almnas Bruk in Sweden
Food pairing: Pickled Red Onion by Kansas City Canning Co.
Wine pairing: Leptir by Sanctum Wines in Slovenia

Wrangeback is Sweden’s oldest cheese! Marisa even passed around photos from the first time this cheese was captured on film. We wanted to focus on old and classic flavors, given that historical romances harken back to older time periods and that many of us carry some nostalgia for getting started in the genre by reading historicals from our moms or grandmas. Pickled anything is always a good staple for a charcuterie and a lot of Slovenia vineyards were started by French Carthusian monks during the 12th century.

SciFi Romance (Bottom right)

Cheese: Red Rock by Roelli in Wisconsin
Food pairing: Pine Cone Bud Syrup by Primitivizia
Wine pairing: Midash by Chertok in Vermont

This was by far my favorite pairing. It was just so…weird. Red Rock is this bright orange cheese with veins of blue running though it, but it’s not considered a blue cheese by definition. It gives me vibes of an alien planet and when served at room temp, reminds me fondly of Cheez Whiz. The syrup apparently has a variety of uses, from drizzling on ice cream to using as glaze for pot roast. These particular pine cones are protected and the woman that makes this syrup has a special permit to forage for them in Dolomite Alps National Park. How cool is that! The wine is co-fermented with apples and grapes; yes, I bought a bottle.

I’d love to host another one in the future or a separate bookish night taking on a new genre, like horror novels for Halloween.

Do any of these pairings sound good to you? Which would be your favorite?

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