A cheese cart with 37 cheeses. This is sublime stuff, real French cheese. Chef Laurent Quenioux (of Bistro LQ and currently Starry Kitchen a.k.a. LQ@SK ) provided his decadent cheese cart to gourmand cheese and wine lovers last Sunday here in Los Angeles, and I am pleased to tell you, I was there. Not only was I there, I indulged in cheese.
We waited in a short line to marvel at the selection of cheeses that Chef Laurent himself supervised, a grand spread of nearly 40 cheeses. I emulated the excited waving hand gestures of Wallace and Gromit in the exclamation of “cheeeese” and the pleasures of it.
Ah, the pleasures of stinky French cheese. I am no wine snob but I love it like a good lush should, and I’m definitely a cheese eater. Put the two together, of course. I’m in heaven. Once I overheard a comment when I lived in New Orleans: “I’m not a bum, darlin’, I’m a wino.” That comment said it all. Define yourself as a wino or a lush, but make sure you include cheese. Then you can say you’re not a wino, you’re a gourmand. My darling and I joked about us being like Mr. and Mrs. Thurston Howell (Gilligan’s Island reference given as any child of the 70’s should refer to when in line at a wine and cheese tasting. And yes, I’m ‘Lovey’). Gourmand, foodie, lush, Lovey. That’s me. Well, Domaine isn’t that kind of a fancy pants place. And I’m not really very much like Lovey anyway. I’m very earthy and so the casual atmosphere of Domaine was welcoming.
Domaine is a lovely little wine store on Melrose Avenue, unpretentious, as their slogan “more wine, less attitude” explains. And there was Chef Laurent smiling away with all of his charm, overseeing the cheese cart. We made our way to the cart, with the blue cheeses on the left, the creamier types in the center, and the funky aged cheese on the right to select from. I selected six types of cheese, from left to right, and have no idea what names to give you, but I can say they were all profoundly delicious. The jams and spreads to compliment, the slices of baguette, all meant for the full experience of cheese.
The first wine we enjoyed with our cheese was Bottex Bugey de Cerdon, a sparkling wine from the Bugey region in eastern France. A rose with a lovely taste of strawberries, and not too sweet. It complimented the mild and creamy cheeses, along with the spreads, jams and baguette. I took my time to enjoy this combination mingling its magic in my mouth. Yes, the sparkling rose was delightful with the buttery cheeses that I spread on baguette with dollops of a strawberry jam to enhance its flavor.
Next we tried the 2010 Clos Roche Blanche Sauvignon, and I ventured into the blue cheese portions on our shared plate. I love a good pungent bleu. Pair that with a white like this, and a little baguette, some more cheese…
Me: “Darling? Could I have another glass of wine?”
Darling: “Yes, Lovey.” (goes to fetch the next selection of wine with our empty glasses)
Me: (eating more cheese)
The third glass of wine was 2009 Terres Dorees “l’Ancien” Beaujolais which I enjoyed even more than the other two, just because I like beaujolais and prefer reds in general. The funkier, more pungent cheesy-cheeses were delicious with more baguette, less jam, and beaujolais.
And realizing the subtle aphrodisiac qualities of good cheese, I began to feel each mouthful with voluptuous pleasure. The wine also had something to do with it.
I do recall one of the names of the many cheeses I enjoyed— a slice of Brillat-Savarin cheese— because I associate the name of the cheese with the famed epicure and gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a man fond of wine and cheese.
A cheese lover, Brillat-Savarin stated: “A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.”
And like Brillat-Savarin, Chef Laurent believes like a true sensualist in using all the senses to experience food—
Brillat-Savarin compared after-taste, the perfume or fragrance of food: “but for the odor which is felt in the back of the mouth, the sensation of taste would be but obtuse and imperfect.”
I had the pleasure of meeting Chef Laurent and so here is a photo taken with the celebrated ‘Chef LQ’ (a giddy-on-cheese and tipsy-on-wine me):
Here is Chef Laurent Quenioux’s cheese cart list in all its glory: