This past Sunday, Brian and I went to check out the Brooklyn Cheese Experiment, a cookoff sponsored by Theo Peck and Nick Suarez, featuring 17 amateur chefs battling for the title of Cheese Champion, and 6 home brewers seeking the honor of having brewed the Best Beer. Winners were determined by audience votes and a panel of judges including Andrew Knowlton from Bon Appetit, among other cheese and beer gurus.
The event was well publicized, but maintained it’s Brooklyn lowkey cool, with good music, great venue at the Bell House, and enthusiastic foodies.
The cheese dishes included a sampling of Mac N Cheese and Lasagnas, puffed pastries, a yummy ricotta cheesecake, an Indian dish, and fancy creations requiring torching, including a never-seen-before “Sushi & Cheese Polenta”.
My favorite was a toss-up between Bonnie Suarez’s frefreshing Tomato Basil Ricotta Soup with a crispy savory Parmiggiano, Piave & Provolone Cracker and the “Polenta Cheese Sushi“ by Noah Berland, creatively replacing rice with polenta, fish with mozzarella cheese, wasabi with a garlicky basil pesto, and soy sauce with some balsamic vinegrette, complete with a torching demo.
Tomato Soup with Cheese Cracker
Polenta Cheese "Sushi"
Although the soup had the best presentation, and was perfectly executed, my vote went to Noah Berland for the inventiveness of his “sushi”. Considering that I call myself an “Experimental Chef”, I feel a special kinship with those who like to take a little risk and do something I’ve never come across before.
Brian was partial to the “Righteous Burn” – Asian marinated beef on mini waffles torched with Swiss and Gruyere cheese. Since it wasn’t Herbivore friendly, I couldn’t taste it for myself, but I trust his judgment, and you’ll see that his tastebuds weren’t far off at all..
Team Pirates’ Booty - Righteous Burn Cheesesteaks
The home brews were also very impressive (I mean seriously, how many beer-makers do you know?) ranging from IPAs to wheat beers, to the “309” made with yeast and described by the girl as “funky tasting”… After making our round, we both unanimously voted for the Propeller IPA, which reminded us a lot of the Magic Hat beers. The guys were charismatic and knowledgable, explaining the brewing process and letting us smell the diferent type of hops they laid out on the table.
And the final results?
1. Bonnie Suarez – Tomato Soup with Cheese Crackers (I sooo predicted that!)
2. Knafe Nabulysa w/Akkawi & Rose Water Syrup (which they ran out so I never had the chance to try!)
3. Fig & Blue Cheese Gruyère Puff (Also ran out by the time I got there – it was only 1 hr after the event!)
1. Team Pirate’s Booty – Righteous Bun Cheesesteaks (Looks like my sous chef does have good taste)
2. Bonnie Suarez – Tomato Soup with Cheese Crackers
3. Rebecca Lando – Homemade Ricotta Cheesecake w/Sea Salt Dulce de Leche (Actually it was so good I took 2 extra bites of it. I’m glad it placed 🙂
Unanimous Judge and Audience pick for the Propeller Pale Ale!
What a decadent way to spend a lazy afternoon, stuffing ourselves with cheese and beer! As we left, my wonderful and ever-loyal sous chef asked me if I was going to enter next year, claiming “Your food is much yummier. You could totally take them on!” Honestly he gives me too much credit, because that place was filled with rising culinary talent…but alas, the seed has been planted and the competitive spirit evoked, so don’t be surprised if you see some upcoming experiments featuring CHEESE!
I’ll conclude with other highlights and photos taken at the event:
“Stinky Slider” stuffed w/Morbier, on a Camembert Biscuit w/Roquefort Mayo.
Mac & Cheese with cinnamon bread crumbs
Indian Paneer Cheese Dish
Ricotta Cheesecake with Sea Salt & Dulce de Leche.
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