Fox School of Wine sets final Table for 12 of the season
Darcy Swedish will supply cheeses for the event
Darcy Swedish enjoys the Fox School of Wine’s Table for 12 tastings.
As the cheesemonger — someone who sells cheese, butter and other dairy products — and manager of Nosh, the cheese counter at The Market Park City, Swedish is in charge of the culinary side of these events. She works with Pamela Wood, certified sommelier and one of the professors of the Fox School of Wine to set the menu.
“When we prepare for an event, Pam will list some notes about the wine and where it’s from,” Swedish said. “We’ll also make notes about the cheese, including where it’s from and what type of milk was used to make it and so forth.”
Swedish then carefully selects all of the accompaniments that will be paired with the wines.
This is especially fun for her, because the theme for the next Table for 12 event, which will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21, at The Market, is “Unusual Selections to Delight You.”
“Sometimes when I try to think of a menu, I’ll try a pairing with peaches, and it will not be the time for peaches, so I may end up doing some grilled vegetables or different vinegars, other types of fruit or honey,” she said. “The idea is to find simple ingredients that all elevate one another. So I try to compose each and every bite and tell them how to present the cheese.”
Swedish, who has been the cheesemonger for five years, first worked with Wood and the Fox School of Wine during a fundraiser a few years ago.
“We had such as good time doing the event and began talking about an ongoing thing,” Swedish said. “We came up with this once-a-month concept that would pair different foods with wines.”
The two, along with Fox School of Wine headmistress Kirsten Fox, learned a group of 12 was the perfect number for the tastings.
“Once we had 21 people and it was too much,” Swedish said. “With 12 people, there is room for everyone to mingle, and pleasant conversations would ensue about food and wine and travels.”
Cheesemonger is a title that took Swedish a few weeks to get used to.
“I didn’t like the term at first, because people think of the word ‘monger’ as a bad thing,” she said. “I didn’t own the title until I read a definition that said, ‘Cheese monger: purveyor of fine cheeses and, indeed, good ideas.’ That’s when I went, ‘Oh, that’s me. I do that.’“
The first duty of a cheesemonger is to protect the integrity of the cheeses she sells.
“That has to do with making sure the space is sanitary, and it also about avoiding cross-contamination with other cheeses,” Swedish said. “I have separate boards for different types of cheeses, and I try to sell it in a timely manner. If it’s a million-dollar cheese, it needs to look like a million-dollar cheese.”
Doing that goes all the way down to even how a cheese is wrapped.
“I make sure the air bubbles are gone and try to present it so it looks very attractive,” Swedish said. “That also preserves the shelf life, but also shortens it because a good-looking cheese will sell very quickly.”
Cheesemongers also have to know how to present cheeses in the display cases.
“Having retired from Delta Airlines, I am fascinated by regions, and I also try to present the cheeses by country of origin, instead of putting all the blue and all the goat and whatever for presentation,” Swedish said. “I did that once, and it was very unsatisfying.”
Throughout her time as cheesemonger, Swedish has cleared up some misconceptions about cheeses to various clients and Table for 12 attendees.
“One of the biggest, and the one that I hate the most, is [pairings with] water crackers,” she said. “People think you have to have something neutral tasting when you put cheese on them, and that’s not the case.
“I mean they give Academy Awards to the supporting casts, right? So when people come to Table for 12, they not only get a chance to taste some wine and some cheese. They also get to taste cheese on the perfect cracker.”
Another concept Swedish tries to relay is time is the most important ingredient in cheese.
“That’s T-I-M-E not T-H-Y-M-E,” she said. “Time has gone into tending the land, tending the animals that produce the milk to make the cheese and tending the cheese.”
Tending cheeses include rubbing and turning them, and aging them in humidity- and temperature-controlled environments.
“Time is also important when you get to eat the cheeses,” Swedish said. “It then becomes a time to enjoy it, but also a time to enjoy being with family and friends, so you want to, hopefully, at least compliment, if not elevate, the experience.”
Swedish enjoys working on the Table for 12 tastings, which have led her to other cheese education opportunities.
“People who come to the Table of 12 will consult with me and for their own gatherings,” she said. “So I always ask questions that will create individual pairings. I’ll ask if the tastings are before dinner, instead of dinner, or if it is dinner, and then I’ll help them create an atmosphere specifically for them.”
Fox School of Wine will host its last Table for 12 of the season at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21, at the Market at Park City, 1500 Snow Creek Drive. Participants must be at least 21 years old. For information and registration, visit http://www.foxschoolofwine.com.
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