It’s a long, windy—and sometimes challenging—ride up to Alison Sweeney’s beautiful Colonial-style home nestled in the Hollywood Hills above Los Angeles. But once you reach the top and get a gander at the panoramic view Ali and her family, husband Dave and kids Ben and Megan, wake up to every morning, you realize it’s well worth the effort. Looking out over the infinity pool that sits in the middle of the well-manicured backyard, all you see for miles and miles below is the City of Angels, and from this vantage point, it looks like heaven.
The landscape of food and beverage pairing is littered with adages meant to make things easier: “What grows together goes together.” Or, “Likes with likes” and “Opposites attract.” Though I’ve spent the last 15 years immersed in the cheese world, even I get nervous when it comes to proper pairing. Good cheese is expensive. What if I mess it up?
I decided to pick the brains of some of the most accomplished cheese pairers I know. These are folks who have taken top honors at the biannual Cheesemonger Invitational, which includes the final preliminary challenge “Perfect Bite.” Judged on presentation, originality and taste, each competitor is assigned a cheese and given an hour to prepare 100 bite-size compositions. What did top mongers have to say about pairing? Here are the four big takeaways: