Quince restaurant continues its series of cheese and spirit pairings this week with rum and artisan cheese ($36, available only in the bar and lounge). While Quince's first effort, Scotch and cheese, is a somewhat established coupling, rum and cheese is far more esoteric.
That makes it intriguing.
Quince's team tasted six rums with 16 cheeses to come up with the three pairings, and one antipairing you won't get to taste. Pairing "with cow's milk [cheese] just isn't worth it," says Katrina Parlato, Quince's general manager. "The rum turns the milk sour. It's completely bitter on the finish. Sheep and goat milk [cheeses] were best."
The pairings that made the cut? Here you go:
Rum 1. Santa Teresa 1796 Ron Antiguo de Solera from Venezuela. Woody with a big burst of spice and power.
Cheese 1. Baserri by Barinaga Ranch in Marshall. This firm Basque-style sheep's milk cheese mellows the rum nicely, allowing more of its flavors to come through. This characteristic is noted throughout the pairings as the cheese brings down the heat of the rum, generally giving more to the rums than the rums give to the cheeses.
Rum 2. Neisson Réserve Spécial Rhum Agricole from Martinique. A vanilla and light brown sugar nose yields to a lighter rum with meaningful toasted hazelnut notes.
Cheese 2. Ewe Bloom from Prairie Fruits Farm in Illinois. A soft-ripened sheep's milk cheese made like a Camembert. The cheese smells like a ewe, in a good way, and the ewe teases out distinct green notes of lemongrass in the rum.
Rum 3. Renegade Rum company Ltd. Edition from Jamaica, aged 15 years in oak and finished at the Bruichladdich Distillery in Scotland in Château Latour barrels. An impressive rum: lightly sweet with herbal, dusty, caramelized dark brown sugar notes reminiscent of PX sherry.
Cheese 3. Andante Trio from Petaluma. A combination of goat's and cow's milk cheese with crème fraîche. Nice cheese! Corey at the bar calls this one a "gateway cheese. I never would have spent $15 on a cheese before I had this." It's creamy and fresh but with an assertive edge. The pairing works wonderfully at the start, but finishes funky.
While all the pairings work well enough, I prefer the two flights on their own. Cheese and rum perform better as soloists than as duos.
Look at it as two tasting flights and the value is quite good. The cheese plate would normally be $18 and the rums $13, $16, and $32 respectively. The pours are smaller, of course, but "we want you to be able to get up and walk out of here," Parlato says.
The pairing special runs through Aug. 16 and will be followed by sessions for eau de vie, local beer, bourbon, and brandy.