The older we get, I find it is harder for someone or something to alter our ingrained beliefs, including those internal truths we guard about our tastes. A cheese plate at Casellula last night struck at one of my taste beliefs: that I don't like sweet and savory together. For years, I have positioned that I won't eat game paired with a fruit based sauce; cheese and fig compote don't work for me; I dislike bread with fruit in it; what's with quince paste getting so close to cheese all the time? For some reason, this taste belief of mine, doesn't actually include food and wine pairing. I love blue cheese and Port or Sauternes. No one said there was logic to our taste beliefs.
I guess it just took someone to do it right to break that mental boundary in my head. Tia Keenan, the fromager at Casellula, created a cheese plate with condiments that changed my mind about my taste bias. She is not just doing it right, she is trying to expand everyone's horizon with cheese. It's not an easy job changing people's minds, not everyone will agree with you. Recently on Twitter (kasekaiserina), she commented:
"'This cheese plate is a JOKE. Totally disgusting. All this STUFF, ugh, it's gross.' - woman who plays the medical examiner on CSI to me."
I am not going to go into the detail of the cheeses on my plate (I didn't bring my note book). I loved the cheeses, but it wasn't the actual cheeses that blew my mind, it was the cheese and condiment pairings. The plates look artfully presented which always provides a good first impression. Tia works hard to create unique, interesting, and let's be honest, challenging condiment pairings. There were tiny little melons from the farmer's market which provided a fantastic tart, bright, refreshing bite. The cipollini onions and whole grain mustard had a sweet and savory contrast. Chocolate and cheese? I am a chocolate crazed person, so I definitely had strong opinions against this one. Wrong again, it worked well. There was a deliciously, strange, unique cheese from Sicily (if I remember correctly) paired with a caramel type sauce. Lastly there was a Belgian blue cheese and a bitter orange marmalade, garnished with a dried slice of orange. This last one really got my attention. I couldn't help myself, even though I was sharing the plate, I kept on going back for more, and more, and more. It was a fantastic combination.
So while I consider myself very flexible when it comes to trying new food things, I still have an ingrained set of food beliefs that deep down, I think, are unchallengeable. It is really fun to find something that impacts just one of those beliefs. I still don't think I am ready to eat game with a fruit sauce, but I guess our taste beliefs may just have to be challenged one by one.