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TIP OF THE DAY: Decorate Snacks With Candy Melts

With Easter coming, you may want to get a bit craftsy.

We’re not suggesting that you mold your own chocolate bunnies, make rocher nests of almonds and chocolate filled with your own truffles, or take on homemade Peeps.

Rather, just decorate some of your everyday favorite snacks with drizzled candy melts in seasonal colors.

It is as simple as:

  • Heating a drizzle pouch or two of candy melt drizzle (photo #1) in the microwave.
  • Laying cookies, potato chips, pretzels or other snacks on a baking sheet.
  • Snipping off a corner of the pouch and drizzling the color(s) over the snacks.
  • Chilling until set, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  •  
    That’s it!

    As with chocolate, candy melt brands vary by quality and price. Merckens* and Wilton are two quality brands.

    You also want to use fresh melts—nothing that’s been sitting in a cupboard (or on a retailer’s shelf) for a year.

    Here are some examples of colors to play with:

    WILTON CANDY MELTS

    Colors – Vanilla Flavor*

  • Bright Green
  • Bright Pink
  • Bright White
  • Red (vanilla flavor)
  • Turquoise
  •  
    Other Flavors† & Colors

  • Light Cocoa flavored (dark brown)
  • Mint Chip flavored (lighter green)
  • Peanut Butter flavored (light brown)
  • Salted Caramel (light brown)
  •  
    Wilton drizzle is $1.99 for a 2-ounce/56g pouch. One package covers 3 dozen mini pretzels, as shown in photo #1.

    You can buy them online or check the Wilton store locator for a retailer near you.

    Don’t buy candy melts way in advance to keep until you need them: Fresh candy melts work better.
     
     
    ________________

    *All colors of Merckens wafers are flavored with artificial vanilla, as are the vanilla-flavored colors from Wilton. Candy melts are great for decorating, and people, and some people melt the wafers into colored bark and other candy. But flavor-wise, they are no substitute for chocolate—or for hand-tinted white chocolate.

    †These are artificial flavors as well. The chocolate varieties are flavored with cocoa.

    ________________

       

    Pretzels With Candy Coating

    Drizzled Chocolate Potato Chips

    Homemade Cracker Jacks

    Flower Bites With  Pretzels & M&Ms

    Recipes for [1] [2] and [3] from Wilton: drizzled pretzels, drizzled potato chips and colored peanuts-and-popcorn. [4] Flower bites made with pretzels and Easter M&Ms, bound together with white candy melts. Here are instructions from Two Sisters Crafting.

     

    Merckens Candy Melts

    Merck's Candy Melts

    [5] Candy melts come in a rainbow of colors, that can be blended together to make still other colors. [6] These may look like chocolate wafers from a fine chocolatier, but they’re candy coating—candy melts—without any cocoa butter (both photos courtesy Merckens).

     

    WHAT ARE CANDY MELTS?

    Candy melts are not quite chocolate, but they look like it.

    They are made in two formats: disks/wafers to melt and then use to decorate confections (used to adhere the M&Ms in photo #4 and larger projects like these), and microwaveable pouches to drizzle (the used in photos #1, #2 and #3).

    Candy melts have several other names: compound coating, confectionary coating, decorator’s chocolate, pâté glacée and summer coating.

    Candy melts are an imitation chocolate product that substitutes vegetable oil for all or part of the cocoa butter in chocolate. In milk chocolate-flavored melts, whey powders, whey derivatives and dairy blends can be used instead of powdered milk.

    Thus, the flavor of candy melts is not as fine as chocolate. If you bite into a piece of “chocolate” that doesn’t taste as rich or velvety on the tongue, it may well be made from candy melts.

    People who think they “hate white chocolate” may have experienced white candy melts instead: artificial chocolate flavored with artificial vanilla. Sometimes, the most beautiful creations are crafted from candy melts that don’t taste as good as they should.

    In the U.S., commercial products made with confectionary coating must be designated “chocolate-flavored.”

    Why do people use candy melts if it isn’t as tasty?

  • It is significantly less expensive than chocolate (and kids likely won’t notice the difference).
  • For color, it is easier than tinting white chocolate.
  • It does not require tempering, but melts easily.
  • It can be thinned out to make as delicate a decoration as the user wants.
  • It hardens quickly, and once hardened, does not melt in the heat like chocolate.
  •  
    Before universal air conditioning, chocolatiers used confectionary coating to create their summer wares, including chocolate-dipped fruit.

    The white coating was often tinted pastel pink, blue and green. The products were called “summer chocolate,” not artificial chocolate.

    Again, that’s why so many people dislike white “chocolate.” Give the best white chocolate a try.
     
     
    TIPS

    There are plenty of videos on YouTube and online articles that explain how to work with the disks. However, since the ideas above use only the drizzling pouches, not much instruction is needed except: Start with a very small cut in the pouch or your drizzle may wider than you’d like.

    Here’s how to read the freshness code on candy melts bags.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Aged Coffee & Nespresso Limited Edition Selection Vintage 2014

    Conventional coffee advice tells you to buy the freshest roasted beans, and grind them as you need to make coffee. Don’t buy more than you need for the week: Fresh is everything.

    But now, there’s aged coffee, a growing trend.

    Aged coffee is not analogous to old, stale, flat coffee. It comprises specially selected beans, that are aged using techniques that bring out the best aged qualities.

    While the marketing message compares aged coffee to aged balsamic vinegar, whiskey, wine, etc., that’s an apples-to-oranges comparison. Still, aged coffee isn’t exactly new. The first coffee drunk by Europeans was aged.

    THE HISTORY OF AGED COFFEE

    Venetian traders first brought coffee to Europe in 1615, but it wasn’t a “quick trip” from Venice.

    At the time, all imported coffee beans came from the port of Mocha, in what is now Yemen. It traveled south by ship around the Cape of Good Hope, then all the way up the west coast of Africa, continuing northward to England.

    By the time the coffee arrived, exposure to salt air over time significantly changed the taste of the coffee. When coffee was subsequently grown in Indonesia, the voyage was even longer.

    Europeans came to prefer the flavor over “fresh” coffee. In fact, when the Suez Canal opened in 1869, greatly shortening the voyage, Europeans still preferred the aged coffee to the fresher beans.

    And so it came to be that some coffee was intentionally aged for six months or longer in large, open-sided warehouses in shipping ports—plenty of salty ocean air to transform the beans.

    Over time, preferences changed. Fresh coffee beans became the preferred type of coffee in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere.

    However, everything old is new again, and aged coffee has become the old new style to try.

    Here’s more history of coffee.

    AGED COFFEE HAS BEEN IN THE U.S. FOR A WHILE

    Starbucks has been aging coffee for certain single-origin coffees and for signature blends, such as Anniversary Blend and Christmas Blend.

    At Peet’s, you can find Aged Sumatra Coffee.

    Boutique producers also have introduced customers to the joys of aged coffee.

    Ceremony Coffee in Annapolis has a Barrel Aged Coffee Series.

    Water Avenue Coffee in Portland, Oregon sells Oak Barrel Aged Sumatra Coffee and Pinot Noir Barrel Aged El Salvador Coffee.

    So is aged coffee a connoisseur product, or a marketing throwback to the past?

    It is definitely the former! Everyone who savors a full-bodied cup of coffee black should try it. Why black? Well…add too much milk and sugar and you won’t taste the marvelous nuances.

    What To Know About Aged Coffee

       

    Nespresso Aged Coffee 2014

    Sumatra Coffee Beans

    Espresso Beans

    [1] A glass of Nespresso aged coffee from the 2014 vintage (photo courtesy Nespresso). [2] Sumatra coffee beans: aged (top) versus unaged (photo courtesy Starbucks Melody). [3] Roasted and ready to grind (photo © Nebojsa Rozgic).

  • Only certain types of green (unroasted) coffee bean varieties age well; but there’s no single formula. Indonesian beans that are full-bodied and low in acidity, particularly Sumatra and Sulawesi beans that are semi-dry processed, can develop a spicy, complex flavor as they age.
  • On the other hand, some bright, acidic wet-processed Latin American coffees (which mellow as they age).
  • The beans must be aged under the right circumstances, including humidity, or their oils will evaporate, taking with them much of the aroma and flavor. Depending on the bean and the terroir, the aging technique can vary.
  • As with wine, each vintage has its own characteristics, and must be aged accordingly to create a unique, complex taste profile.
  • Unlike with some wines and whiskeys, ongoing aging does not improve the coffee: It simply loses more of its flavor.
  •  

    Nespresso Aged Coffee 2014

    Nespresso Aged Coffee 2014

    [4] and [5] Nespresso Limited Edition Selection Vintage 2014 contains three sleeves.

     

    HOW TO CREATE AGED COFFEE

    Beans with the promise to age well are carefully aged under conditions that are best for the particular type of bean and vintage. As with many agricultural products, the “terroir” of the bean—the type of land, climate, seasonal weather and other environmental factors—produces different flavors and aromas in the finished product.

    After harvesting, the beans are bagged in burlap and regularly rotated to distribute moisture and prevent mold and rot. Some roasters prefer to age the beans in wine or whiskey barrels to impart still more flavors and aromas to the finished beans.

    The beans are usually aged at their origin, often at a higher altitude, where the temperature and humidity are more stable.

    Aging time ranges from six months to three years. Samples are roasted and brewed several times a year during the aging process and when the desired flavors have been achieved, are roasted after they are finished aging.

    A dark roast is best, as it evens out the flavor and accentuates the body of the coffee. Sometimes they are blended with other aged beans.

    However, some connoisseurs prefer a light roast on single-origin aged coffees, which better emphasizes the single-origin qualities.

     
    As more people embrace aged coffee, no doubt, there will be options to everyone’s taste.

    INTRODUCING NESPRESSO’S FIRST AGED COFFEE:
    THE LIMITED EDITION SELECTION VINTAGE 2014

    For the first time, super-premium coffee brand Nespresso now offers coffee lovers the chance to taste aged coffee.

    After years of development and expertise, Nespresso experts selected Arabica beans from the highlands of Colombia, which promised to age well. These beans, from the 2014 harvest, were then stored under controlled conditions for two years.

    They were then ready to roast. The experts selected a sophisticated split roasting technique: One part of the beans was roasted lighter to protect the elegant aromas specific to these beans; the other part was roasted darker to reveal the maturity of the taste and enhance the richness of the texture.

    The result: a cup of espresso that is rich in body, mellow in flavor and velvety-smooth in texture. An elegant woodiness is layered with fruity notes.

    The goal—to create a new sensory experience for coffee aficionados—has been achieved! The aged coffee is a real treat—and a great gift idea.

    Don’t let this limited edition slip through your fingers. Get yours now, in either original or Vertuo capsules.

    Then, we can both look forward to the next aged vintage!
     
     
    HOW MANY COFFEE REGIONS CAN YOU NAME?

    More than 40 countries around the world grow coffee.

    How many can you name? (The answer.)

      

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    CHOCOLATE STORE: 2 Beans, A Chocolate Paradise

    2 Beans Chocolate Store NYC

    Al Nassma Camel Milk Chocolate Bars

    Marie Belle Matcha White Chocolate Bar

    [1] Enter the emporium: coffee to the right, chocolate to the left (photo courtesy 2 Beans). [2] The first chocolate made with camel’s milk, from Dubai (photo courtesy Al Nassma). [3] Another winner: the matcha white chocolate bar from Marie Belle (photo courtesy Marie Belle).

     

    Depending on where you live, there may be a store dedicated to chocolate bars.

    2Beans is the go-to store in New York City. A gallery of the world’s great chocolates, it’s a dizzying experience for the novice and connoisseur alike.

    There’s fine coffee, too; the second of the “two beans.”

    You can buy all you want to bring back to your lair, or sit down and enjoy your chocolate with a coffee or wine pairing.

    The whole is greater than the sum of the parts: beyond a chocolate store, beyond a coffee bar, the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.

    There are also high-end soft drinks (like Fentiman’s) and small bites for those who want food with their chocolate.

    The flagship store is a modern, two-story glass rectangle a block from Grand Central Terminal, at 100 Park Avenue (212-937-8914). While there may be larger concepts in other cities, right now 2Beans is where the action is in our town.

    There are currently three locations, with two more to open this year (you can find the other two are in the Turnstile Shops at Columbus Circle, and at Amsterdam Avenue and 82nd Street on the Upper West Side.

    ENTER THE EMPORIUM

    A wall of chocolate bars, a large glass case for bonbons, a stand-up coffee bar and pleasant upstairs seating for some chocolate with coffee or wine.

    2Beans is a chocolate store and coffee parlor located in New York committed in providing best confectionery items and coffee beans.

    There’s a chocolate for everyone: more than 50 brands from over 18 countries: famous, not-yet-famous, bean-to-bar, kosher, Fair Trade, organic, and raw chocolates, even sugar-free (mostly 100 cacao choices, as opposed to artificially sweetened).

    You start with the A’s (Akesson’s, Amano, Amedei…) and work your way through the alphabet of the world’s great artisan chocolate bars—including our own local and national producers.

    There are also boxed chocolates, fill-your-own chocolate boxes, seasonal chocolates and fun chocolates. There are pastries, if you’d rather have some with your coffee.

     

    There are even camel’s milk chocolate bars (photo #2), made by Al Nassma in Dubai (and the only camel’s milk chocolate made in the United Arab Emirates). The name means drifting breeze in Arabic, a welcome and gentle wind bringing cool respite from the heat of the desert.

    One friend, a chocolate bar aficionado, stops by weekly for a pick-me up (and take-me-home). For happy hour, the store is open weekly.

     

    MILK BOY SWISS CHOCOLATE

    Our favorite discover on this week’s visit were the bars from a Swiss bean-to-bar producer, Milk Boy.

    Made in Switzerland with cacao from sustainable farms in West Africa, the company offers

  • Dark Chocolate 60% cacao with pine tree oil
  • Dark Chocolate 85% cacao
  • Milk Chocolate
  • Milk Chocolate with crunchy caramel and sea salt
  • Milk Chocolate with lemon and ginger
  • White Chocolate with Bourbon vanilla
  •  
    We purchased the Milk, Milk with lemon and ginger and White Chocolate…and can’t wait to return for the rest of the line.

    The wrapper depicts the cow parade from villages to the Alps for grazing season. Each spring, the cows parade up the mountains to fanfare from the villagers. At the end of grazing season, they come back in for the winter.

    For art enthusiasts: the design was created by famous Swiss paper-cutting artist Esther Gerber. It’s just icing on the cake (wrapping on the bar?) of this exquisite chocolate.
     
    ANOTHER WINNER

    The Matcha White Chocolate Bar from Marie Belle.

    But in truth, how many winners are on the shelves at 2 Beans?

    We can’t even begin to count!

     

    Milk Boy 85% Chocolate Bar

    Milk Boy Chocolate Bar

    [4] Milk Boy, an outstanding brand from Switzerland. [5] Try the entire line (photos courtesy Milk Boy).

     

      

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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Three Wonderful Food Gifts

    Vinebox Valentine Gift

    VineBox Wines

    Ritual Chocolate Bars

    [1] [2] [3] The Valentine gift box from VineBox, with artisan chocolate bars from Ritual Chocolate.

     

    You could search all over town without finding wonderful Valentine’s Day gifts like these—one with zero calories!

    There’s no need leave home to get them. Just click below to order these online.

    1. FOR THE WINE DRINKER: A WINE & CHOCOLATE PAIRING

    VineBox is a monthly wine-by-the-glass subscription service; but for Valentine’s Day, it has teamed up with artisan chocolatier Ritual Chocolates to offer gift box that anyone can order.

    Three red wines have been paired with two different 75% cacao origin chocolate bars, from Belize and Madagascar.

    The wines include a Chianti from Tuscany, a Crozes-Hermitage from the Rhone Valley of France, and a Don Paolo from the Pompeii area of southern Italy.

    Beautifully packaged—you’ll want to repurpose the empty box or wine vials—the gift includes two separate boxes, with a total of

  • 3 different wines, 6 glasses total.
  • 2 small-batch chocolate bars, 2.12 ounces apiece.
  • Tasting notes and description.
  • A gift card.
  •  
    Both boxes are $69 at VineBox.com; shipping is included.
     
     
    For More Wine & Chocolate Pairings

    Check out THE NIBBLE’s favorite pairings, and our master pairing chart.

    Here’s a guide to pairing sparkling wines with chocolate.

    Here’s how to pair wine with chocolate desserts and other desserts.

     

    2. CALORIE- & CAFFEINE-FREE: LOVERS’ TEA

    This herbal blend from one of our favorite artisan blenders combines red rooibos, baby rose buds and petals, marigold petals, almonds and saffron (a well known aphrodisiac).

    Whether hot or iced, we guarantee the recipient will love it. A four-ounce tin is $16 at Tay Tea.

    The company has another rooibos blend we love, with bits of Belgian dark chocolate and peppermint, called Better Than Sex.
     

    3. ORGANIC TRUFFLE HONEY

    Many truffle-flavored products are flavored with a chemical approximation of truffle flavor and aroma.

    But this jar of Acacia honey, certified USDA organic, is flavored with real white truffle pieces.

    We love dipping it by the spoon from the jar; but more genteel uses include:

  • Cheese condiment extraordinaire, from blues to goats, to Parmesans and beyond.
  • Glaze a duck breast, lamb, roast ham, pork or turkey: just brush on top while the meat rests out of the oven. Ditto as a sandwich condiment with these meats.
  • Drizzle an earthy garnish onto vanilla ice cream.
  • Drizzle over bruschetta with fresh ricotta.
  •  
    Truffle honey turns something simple into something joyous.

    Get yours from Murray’s Cheese, $26.99 for a 4.25-ounce jar of heaven.

     

    Lovers Tea Herbal

    Truffle Honey Da Rosario

    [4] Lovers’ Tea from Tay Tea is an elegant herbal blend. [5] Honey in a perfect marriage with truffles, from Da Rosario.

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Casa Noble Tequila & A Tequila-Cheese-Chocolate Tasting

    Casa Noble Blanco Crystal Tequila

    Casa Noble Reposado

    Casa Noble Tequila Carlos Santana

    Casa Noble Alta Belleza

    [1] Casa Noble Crystal Tequila: the best blanco/silver tequila we’ve ever had. [2] Add a bit of age and you get a reposado tequila. [3] The special edition named for company director Carlos Santana: Casa Noble Santana Reserve 5 Years Anejo. [4] The top of the line, Casa Noble Alta Bellezza, is as great as tequila gets. But let us quickly say: They’re all great! (Photos courtesy Casa Noble)

     

    You’ve no doubt seen more ads or advertorials that promise “the finest tequila in the world.”

    We haven’t had a side-by-side comparison tasting of them, but we have tasted most of the , and most recently had have the most exquisite tequila tasting of our long life, with the founder and master distiller of Casa Noble Tequila, Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo.

    Don’t take only my word for it: Musician Carlos Santana preferred Casa Noble to the extent that he joined the board and had a tequila aged for five years (the bottle bears his signature).

    Casa Noble has two more features that will especially interest some consumers: It’s certified organic and certified kosher (by Star-K).
     
    WHAT MAKES THE FINEST TEQUILA?

    The best agave plants from the species Agave tequilana (commonly called blue agave), aged to maturity (10-14 years) before harvesting.

    As with everything, time is money. The most time-intensive production techniques, from roasting the agave piñas (they look like pineapples) to 100% natural fermentation and triple distillation (most tequilas are only distilled twice).

    Yet, the prices are reasonable for such great spirits.

    THE EXPRESSIONS OF TEQUILA

    If you know spirits, you know there are different expressions based on age. In the case of tequila, the expressions are aged according to law:

  • Blanco Tequila (“white”), also called plata (“silver”) or crystal. Clear and transparent, the tequila is bottled or stored immediately after distillation, or aged no more than two months.
  • Joven Tequila (“young”) or oro (“gold”): un-aged tequila blended with rested or aged tequilas. In some lesser brands, caramel coloring, sugar-based syrup, glycerin, and/or oak extract are often added in order to resemble aged tequila. Don’t buy based on color!
  • Reposado Tequila (“rested”): light yellow and translucent. The tequila is aged for at least six months but less than a year. Reposado began to emerge as a new category of tequila in the late 1980s
  • Añejo Tequila (“aged” or “vintage”): brighter yellow, aged at least one year, but less than three years.
  • Extra Añejo Tequila (“extra aged” or “ultra aged”): a golden color, aged at least three years in oak.
  • Older Expressions. These specialty expressions are not age-regulated per se; they can be as old as the distiller likes and designated by age (e.g. 7 Años) or by a proprietary name. For example, the limited edition Casa Noble Santana Reserve 5 Years Anejo (MSRP $549.99; we found it online for $499.99).
  •  
    Different distilleries can create even older expressions, in limited editions. These top-of-the-line offerings are typically housed in an exquisite bottle. While the bottle appeals to everyone, the taste is a connoisseur’s delight. They are priced accordingly (Casa Noble’s Alta Belleza—only 563 bottles available for the world—is $1,200).

    Here’s more about tequila.

    THE JOY OF CASA NOBLE TEQUILA

    First, let us say that we had the privilege of tasting Alta Belleza, the first release of Casa Noble’s Colección del Fundador. It is offeredin extremely limited quantities, priced at $1,200, and for those who don’t concern themselves with price, well worth it. For a spectacular tequila gift, look no further.

    The rest of us can find joy in Casa Noble’s Crystal (the best blanco/silver we’ve ever had) and the other expressions, all of which are affordable to reasonably affordable.

     
    These are the suggested retail prices (which, of course, can vary by retailer):

  • Casa Noble Crystal Tequila, $39.99
  • Casa Noble Joven Tequila, $49.99
  • Casa Noble Reposado Tequila, $59.99
  • Casa Noble Añejo Tequila, $69.99
  • Casa Noble Single Barrel Extra Añejo Tequila, $129.99
  •  
    After having the privilege to enjoy a tasting with Pepe a few months ago, the amazing Crystal (blanco, silver) has become our gift of choice for tequila lovers. Our gift note says: “Don’t make Margaritas with this: It’s meant to be savored straight!”

    Of course, if you want to make Margaritas with it, it’s your palate and your right! The Crystal will give an extra lime lift to the fresh lime juice in the cocktail.

     

    TEQUILA, CHEESE & CHOCOLATE TASTING

    We had our second memorable Casa Noble experience last week, at Murray’s Cheese. There, Adam Goddu, a general manager at Murray’s and a Certified Cheese Professional, joined Pepe Hermosillo to escort a group of food writers through a celestial pairing of great tequilas and memorable cheeses.

    Most of us are so oriented to having cheese with wine or beer, that we don’t think of serving a cheese tasting plate with tequila. But with a glorious tequila like Casa Noble, the pairing is as natural as a Burgundy or a Barolo.

    We asked Adam Goddu to advise all of us on how to put together a pairing of cheese and tequila.

    Then we thought: Add a chocolate pairing and make a terrific party of the four food groups (alcohol, cheese, bread, chocolate).

    In general, what do you look for in a cheese/drink pairing?

    Adam: We look for some magical math: 1 + 1 = 3. You want the items to complement each other but you also want the flavor combination to evolve into something more.

    We go by three basic pairing principles: “Like with Like,” “Opposites Attract” and “What Grows Together, Goes Together.” These work for pairings with crackers, jams and honeys as well as drinks.

    Certain regional pairings (Loire Valley goat’s milk cheeses with a crisp white from that region) are a natural pairing…they’ve been made in the same area for centuries. I personally prefer the opposites approach: if you have a rich, decadent sheep’s milk or triple crème, you want a white with a strong acidic back bone (and perhaps some bubbles!).

    Why do tequila and cheese work well together?

    Adam: I think wine and beer hog the limelight when it comes to traditional cheese pairings; but tequila can be just as versatile and special with the right combination or flavors.

    It can be difficult to pair cheese with high-alcohol beverages because that booziness can overpower many elements. When you have tequila with nuance and charm like Casa Noble’s Single Barrel Añejo, the sky is the limit. A funky washed rind or fudgy, spicy blue cheese pair wonderfully.

    Talk us through some of the more specific pairings of different tequilas.

    Adam: There are general rules you can use with certain styles, but you really need to remember that no two expressions* are exactly alike. Blanco and Joven [the two youngest expressions] are quite boozy [alcoholic] and pack a punch, so you need a cheese strong enough to stand its ground. [Editor’s note: We find Casa Noble tequilas to be so finely crafted, even the youngest are not alcoholic or “hot.”]

    Higher butterfat cheeses do very well overall (sheep’s or water buffalo’s milk cheeses).

    Anejo’s oaky/vanilla notes lean toward Alpine cheeses with caramel and roasted almond flavors dancing beautifully together.

    Blanco tends to have a clarity and subtly with sweet corn and grass coming to the forefront. You don’t want a big brassy cheese to overpower the tequila in this case so sticking with a milder, “sweeter” Brie style is perfect.
     
    What’s your favorite type of tequila to pair with cheese?

    Adam: I like a challenge, so finding the perfect cheese for Joven was a lot of fun.

    As far as straight up tastiness, the barrel-aged tequilas (reposado, añejo) allow a bit more freedom. You can play around with Gruyère, a clothbound Cheddar and a mild blue (Gorgonzola, Stilton) and find that each pairing brings out a different side of the tequila.

    For our tasting of Casa Noble’s Crystal, Joven, Reposado, Añejo and Single Barrel Añejo, Adam created the following pairings, served with honey, Marcona almonds, dried fruits, baguette slices and crackers.

    While the pairings were “textbook,” based on flavor profiles, we couldn’t find a mis-match. That’s what happens when all items are the best of their kind.

  • Crystal Tequila (not aged; no vegetal notes but flavors of lime zest and sweet corn) with Camembert (strong bloomy rind, full-flavored Brie style)
  • Joven Tequila (aged 6 weeks for sweet floral and tropical fruit notes) with Cornelia, a house specialty washed rind cheese with a creamy paste
  • Reposado Tequila (aged 364 days in French white oak, just one day short of a legal añejo) with Bianco Sardo, a rich, “wooly” raw sheep’s milk cheese. Tangy yet creamy, with earthy and sweet grass notes.
  • Añejo Tequila(two years in French white oak, beautifully balanced), with Annelies, an Alpine style raw cow’s milk cheese redolent of cooked caramel and nuts.
  • Extra Añejo Single Barrel (aged five years with Colton Bassett Stilton and Greensward (Jasper Hill Farm’s Harrison, washed in-house to create deeper flavors)
  •  
    CHOCOLATE & TEQUILA

    While chocolate was not part of the Murray’s event, we host chocolate pairings a few times a year (here’s what we do with wine, beer).

    Chocolate and tequila are a delicious marriage, whether the groom is young (an unaged blanco), old (a well-aged extra añejo), or any age in-between.

    Plain chocolates are the purest way to merge the flavors. We like:

  • White chocolate with blanco or joven tequila
  • Milk chocolate with joven or reposado tequila
  • Dark chocolate with reposado or añejo tequila
  •  
    What about flavored and filled chocolates?

  • Fruity flavors—fruity ganaches (our favorites: orange, raspberry), chocolate cherries, bars with dried fruit, can pair with all expressions of tequila. They pair even better according to our chocolate-and-expression guide immediately above.
  •  

    Anejo Tequila With Cheese

    Greensward Cheese

    Bianco Sardo Sheep Cheese

    Colston Basset Stilton

    Amedei White Chocolate

    Stack Of Dark Chocolate

    Mexican Chocolate Tiles

    [5] All of Casa Noble’s tequilas are delicious with cheese. Shown here: Greensward and Stilton (photo courtesy Casa Noble). [6] Greensward, We love chocolate with tequila. [6] Bianco Sardo, a Sardinian sheep’s milk cheese. [7] Cossett Bassett, a beloved Stilton (cheese photos courtesy Murray’s Cheese). [8] Casa Noble’s Crystal, with its lilt of lime, is a perfect pairing with white chocolate (photo courtesy Amedei Chocolate). [9] For milk or dark chocolate, head to the aged tequilas (photo courtesy La Chocolate). [10] Aztec” chocolates with chile and other Mexican spices work well with tequila (photo courtesy Bespoke Chocolate).

  • Mint and tequila are also a classic pairing, with the bright, grassy heat of the tequila emphasizing the coolness of the mint.
  • Spices: According to the “universal law of food pairing,” wine and spirits were made to complement the local cuisine. Thus, spicy chocolates with chiles, cinnamon and other warm-to-hot spices like pepper go well tequila. Look for Aztec bars, which typically have all three.
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    And get ready for a great Valentine’s Day (Or Anytime) Party!
     
    MORE PAIRINGS

  • Bubbly & Chocolate Pairings
  • Cheese & Chocolate Pairings
  • Scotch & Chocolate Pairings
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    *An expression is a different variation (think recipe) of the distillery’s spirit. The variations can be based on age, single grain/malt vs. blend (whiskey), single barrel/cask, etc. The highest-regarded distilleries can produce limited editions expressions that are aged longer, with other features that appeal to a connoisseur’s palate.

      

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