Who doesn’t love a little stink to their cheese?  We celebrated the kick-off of the Stinky Cheese Festival with a fierce competition between beer and wine: which pairs better with stinky cheese?

The Festival is brought to us by Tour de France Restaurant Group, where we can enjoy 10 days of inventive dishes inspired by stinky cheese.  Nine French spots served their cheesy culinary creations from February 10th through the 17th.

These restaurants include: Nice Matin (201 W. 79th Street at Amsterdam Avenue), Marseille (630 9th Avenue at 44th Street), Café D’ Alsace (1695 2nd Avenue at 88th Street), French Roast (2340 Broadway at 85th Street and 78 W. 11thStreet at 6th Avenue), L’Express (249 Park Avenue South at 20th Street),  Le Monde (1885 Broadway between 112th and 113th Streets), Maison (1700 Broadway at 53rdStreet), and Pigalle (790 8th Avenue at 48th Street).

For the kick-off event, each restaurant prepared a lovely dish for guests to taste, along with a pairing of wine and beer.

My favorite dish was dessert!  You may be thinking that I just like dessert the best because, well, dessert is awesome.  However, I was skeptical about it hearing that it was blue cheese ice cream.  Whaa?!  Mind explosion.  No one else was at the table, which got me even more worried.

I timidly took the spoon and took a sharp inhale as a chomped down, and… it was amazing!  It was pretty sweet and not overly cheesy, but you definitely get the kick of all the good parts of the flavor.  It was topped with a walnut, which brought a great contrast.  By the time I went back to the table 5 minutes later for a second serving, the table was crowded with people vying for a taste.  Find out for yourself at Pigalle this week!

There was a panel of experts who judged each dish with their pairings.  And yes, these guy are real experts and not just booze-swigging bums.  The panelists included: Oskar Bynke, Managing Partner of Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard; Ian McFadden and Chris Catrell of Crush; Gregg Glasser, the Editor-in-Chief, Yankee Brew News & Distillery Age; Damian Brown of the Bronx Brewery; and Jeff Cioletti, Editor-in-Chief of Beverage World.

After a lengthy, gruesome battle, the winner was: Team Beer headed by Café D’Alsace beer Sommelier Gianni Cavicchi.  It was a close race between him and the Tour de France Wine Director and Nice Matin Winwhe Sommelier Aviram Turgeman

[Below are the pairings that the panel experienced along with final scores.]

Get ready to cut some cheese.


Round 1 – Raclette (Lyonnaise Potatoes, Crispy Bacon & Pickled Onions) from Nice Matin

Wine: Gewurztraminer, “Cuvée Comtes des Eguisheim,” Léon Beyer, Alsace 2001
Beer: La Choulette, “Les Sans Culottes,” Bière de Garde Hordain, France
Made in the tradition of artisan brewers, Sans Culottes is a blonde beer sur lie. Probably the best bière de garde for the uninitiated to start with. Packed in a 75 cls bottle with a wired-down cork, Sans Culottes sports a brilliantly eye-catching label showing a revolutionary soldier proudly wearing his pantalons, having wisely forsaken his culottes for the coming struggle.
Score: Beer 20 & Wine 22 (out of a possible 30)

Round 2 – Epoisse (Short Ribs, Parsnip Puree, Pearl Onions & Burgundy Wine Sauce) from Marseille

Wine:Pommard 1er Cru “Les Pezerolles,” Domaine de Montille, Burgundy 1998
Beer: Midnight Sun, “Monk’s Mistress,” Strong Dark Belgian Style Ale, Anchorage, Alaska
The inspiration for this beer’s name—previously, La Maitresse du Moine—is the beer itself. Its deep, intense flavors inspired the concept of a monk that seeks solace and satisfaction from the sensory pleasure and mind-provoking effects of this liquid temptress.
Score: Beer 27.5 & Wine 21

Round 3 – Stinky Knaffe  (Ricotta, Mozzarella, Halloumi, Humboldt Fog, Rosewater Syrup & Fig Chutney) from Barbounia

Wine: Condrieu, “Ayguets,” Yves Cuilleron, Rhone 2001 (Late harvest sweet wine)
Beer: Schloss Eggenberg, “Samichlaus,” 2009, Dopple Bock, Vorchdorf, Austria
The once strongest beer in the world is back ! Brewed only once a year on December 6. Samichlaus is aged for 10 months before bottling. This beer is perhaps the rarest in the world. Samichlaus may be aged for many years to come. Older vintages become more complex with a creamy warming finish. Serve with hardy robust dishes and desserts, particularly with chocolates, or as an after dinner drink by itself. Brewed under the exclusive license of Feldschlösschen-Hürlimann-Holding, Switzerland.
Score: Beer 25.5 & Wine 24.5