You may have noticed that with a few of my restaurant posts (most of them actually), it’s my first time visiting the establishment. There are so many great restaurants in DC that its’ hard to say, “Let’s go back to that place we’ve been before” unless it has some special personal memories. But there are some places that become ingrained in your soul. Cheesetique is like that. I’ve been a fan for so long, that a deep dive into my email to discover that it was July of 2007. I went with my cousin K for the Stinky Cheese class and fell in love with the place, and the atmosphere, and that was back in it’s tiny shoebox-shop days where a dozen people sat around card tables, bumping chairs against the cheese case. Jill Erber – the owner – led the class, and was so funny and engaging that I knew I would be back. And I was. A simple count through my email shows that over the years I’ve attended at least a dozen classes. And once they moved to the new location in Del Ray with more space, it made things more spacious and comfortable. I’ve become a Cheesetique devotee, and I’m not ashamed of it.
What’s more, I have lived in two neighborhoods with Cheesetique in them – first in Shirlington with the second location that opened in 2011, and then the original in Del Ray when the Boy and I moved here earlier in the spring. As much as I love the spaciousness of the Shirlington location, the Del Ray shop and wine bar feels like home – it’s so cozy and familiar from years of classes. So I’m lucky to now call it my “local” Cheesetique. When my same cousin K came over to see the new place, we decided to get dinner afterwards, and since there are so many fun restaurants, it was hard to choose. Except I never offered anything else – I think I said, “There are a bunch of places, but I also haven’t been to Cheesetique since we moved…” and she said yes. Of course she did – this is the cousin who took me to Cheesetique in the first place!
One of the things that I love about Cheesetique is that in addition to cheese, they have an amazing wine selection. It’s pretty amazing, and they do such a good job of selecting fun and interesting wines without being too uptight about what makes wine good. I believe their prevailing viewpoint on wine is, “It should be delicious.” They also make it easy for ordering something that pairs well with dinner by listing great wines on their menu next to each dish. And none of them are super-expensive either, so it’s easy to say yes to the suggested pairing. Unless you want to try a few things, in which case you can order a small flight like K did. I love that they have the paper with the name of the wine and a little about it. It makes it so much easier to remember than having to think, “Now…which one was this? I have to keep them in a particular order!” No, here, you just have to keep them on the paper. So delicious!
We split an appetizer of Tot Poutine. Normally this is not something I would have chosen on my own, but K went to school in Canada, and we like to tease her about practically being French Canadian occasionally. She loves poutine, and chose this, and it was a good choice – crispy tots, delicious cheese and gravy. Nom nom nom… It’s fairly new on the menu, so if you were to visit soon, it would probably still be there.
And because we love to share things in my family, we looked at the menu, said “What looks good to both of us”, and got two things to share. In this case it was the Sassy Goat grilled cheese and the Mac of the Moment (yes, they have a rotating macaroni and cheese selection), this one being a Ham and Cheese with cheddar. I’m so glad we got both, because it’s more fun to try multiple things that look tasty on the menu than to sit with your one sandwich or whatever wishing you could have half the mac’n’cheese your cousins has on her plate.
And because I’m not a crazy person, we also got dessert – key lime pie in a wee little mason jar. So tasty, and fluffy. Just tart enough to give your taste buds a zing, but still so creamy and delicious. Also, tons of buttery graham cracker crust on the bottom that was soaked with the pie filling that K let me dig out like a child desperate for every ounce of sweetness. Just the right amount of dessert at the end of the meal.
And while we didn’t buy any cheeses, we couldn’t help but ogle at the case on our way out. We may have lovingly recalled cheeses previously purchased – what was amazing, and what was slightly less amazing. If I’m being honest, I could easily sit bit back there with a knife and sample my way through all those cheeses and die happily of dairy overload behind their cheese case. But I won’t, because I don’t think Jill would like it.
Have you gotten the point yet? That I love Cheesetique? And that if you like cheese, you would love it too? I would recommend signing up for their newsletter so you know when their next classes are, but that means I’d be competing with you to get a spot. And I’m definitely due for another class soon (watch this space!). In conclusion, if there is cheese heaven, this is it.