Artisanal Merliance Tasting and Brunch

28 Feb

I love cheese.

Like really freakin’ love cheese.

And wine?

I love wine.

So wine and cheese?

Yup.

I’m in.

But Merlot and I have not been good friends (and I swear I didn’t like it long before Sideways made it a faux pas).  But Lori (of the blog Stuff I Ate) has been singing the virtues of Long Island Merlots for quite some time. We went to a few wineries with her and I actually did like it more than I thought I would. I still would choose a Pinot Noir over a Merlot any day, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

So when she invited us to an event at the Artisanal Cheese Center (10th Ave between 36th and 37th) with the Merliance (Long Island Merlot Alliance), we decided to give it a try.

We didn’t know what to expect, but when we entered there were glasses in the back with  merlot and a table set with cheese. My favorite of which was the Epoisses (which I just realized is the same cheese that I enjoyed so much in our Colicchio and Sons dish). It was creamy and farmy and delicious. 

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We were not sure if that was the entirety of the event, but we were pleased when we were led into a room next door, poured 7 glasses of wine, and presented with a wheel of cheeses.

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Throughout the tasting, the different wine makers from each of the vineyards represented spoke about their wine and the cheese it went with. It was very interesting and educational.  

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And I was a model student and finished all of my wine and cheese. (Please notice the half full glasses of everyone in front of me… whoops!)

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While I can’t say I fell in love with Merlot, I obviously enjoyed every glass.  But I ESPECIALLY enjoyed the cheese. There was one in particular called Roomano that I could not get enough of. It is the best crystals of gruyere and parmesan combined with a rich and creaminess that I have never tasted before. I loved it so much that Mike surprised me with it as a present over the holidays and we pursued it each time we were back near Artisanal.

Speaking of…

When I was looking for a brunch location one Saturday after going to my dress fitting with my mother and sister (OMG! I’m getting married!!!), I noticed that Artisanal Bistro had an opening.  So off we went to 32nd Street, just off Park Ave.

There is a full retail Fromagerie in the back of the restaurant.

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And a really nice atmosphere, keeping with their maroon and butter yellow brand identity.

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They even use cheese wrap as the table cloths.

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We started with a cheese plate including a truffle cheese (WOW!) and, my new favorite, Roomano.  

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We asked them to bring out some nibbles to go with the cheese, so they brought out some quince paste and some walnuts in (really good) honey. It was all perfect and  a great start to the meal. All of us were doing the happy belly dance (yes… all 3 of us dance in our chairs when we like our food… I’m sure it is a sight to see!)

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My sister got a salmon eggs benedict. She gobbled it all up, so I assume it was damn good.

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My mom and I got the same dish, poached eggs over pork belly hash and sweet potatoes. It came with a chipotle hollandaise (that mom got).

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And I got mine with regular hollandaise.  It was so good. A little crisp on the pork. Perfectly cooked eggs. It all went so well together and while the bowl was small, it was a perfect portion and I’m glad there wasn’t more or else I would have stuffed my maw far too much.

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I am a big Artisanal fan, especially after these recent two experiences. How can you beat a restaurant that specializes in cheese?

I had been there for dinner in the past, and very much enjoyed their fondue, but I thought their brunch was even better. We also sat in the restaurant for hours and no one bothered us or pressured us to leave. Service was very good, for the most part, and everyone enjoyed everything they ate.

Yay for cheese!

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

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