Cheese Tasting 101 at Antontelli's Cheese Shop

02.04.2016 by: Beth Stockwell Vanderkolk
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When faced with a ton of options, choosing a great cheese can be tough, but thankfully there's usually someone in a cheese shop or grocery store to help you with your choice. You can cut out the middle man by learning a few tips and tricks from the cheese classes at Antontelli's Cheese Shop in Hyde Park! We recently took the Cheese 101: The Seven Styles of Cheese class at the shop, and we're happy to share a rundown on what you get to see, taste, and learn during the class!

Their "Cheese 101" classes are an intimate way to get to know the "7 Styles of Cheese." The incredibly nice and informative cheesemongers guide you through each style of cheese and taste specific examples (both pasteurized and unpasteurized), accompanied by olives, nuts, and Easy Tiger bread. They'll also bring out a number of additional pairings like chutneys and charcuterie bites, depending on that evening's cheese selection. And the best part is that at the end of the night, everything's available for purchase.

Before the cheese class began, I stopped in at Antonelli's Cheese Shop, across the street from the tasting room, to purchase some wine. They have a great (but small) selection of reds, whites, bubblies, and beer. The cheesemongers in the shop were happy to suggest a few bottles for the class. When you enter the tasting room, you're enveloped by the smells of cheeses (some are stinky!) and fresh bread. It's glorious. You wander right through the plating area as you make your way to your seat, and it's truly a sight when you see all of the personal cheese plates being made ready. While it was temping to grab a few boards and shove them in my tote, I managed to graciously go to my seat and patiently wait for the class to begin.

Antonelli's Tasting Room entrance

Cheese plates for the whole class

Communal tables are set for about 10 people. Each place setting has a glass for wine, water, craft paper you can use as a plate, a list of the cheeses you'll taste, and another sheet that explains how you can pair your cheeses and how to order what you've tasted. The table is also set with olives, Marcona almonds (addictive), and Easy Tiger bread. The bread goes fast at the table, so stock up once you get your hands on the basket. Don't be afraid to ask for more! Do you have an allergy, food sensitivity, or cannot eat raw milk cheeses? No problem. For most classes, they are able to offer a modified cheese board to fit your needs if you contact them before class. If you're gluten-free, feel free to bring crackers or bread that you can snack on during class. Note: they do serve tree nuts and wheat during class.

Place setting at each seat

Once you get your personal cheese plate, it's really tempting to just dig in to all of the cheeses! But the cheesemongers will ask you to wait so they can guide you through the board, and it's truly worthwhile to wait. It was so interesting learning how all the cheeses were made, how they differ from each other, and what you can pair with each cheese. If you're someone who chooses a basic sharp cheddar every time, it's awesome to find yourself gobbling something new and super different. The amount of cheese you get is pretty generous, especially once you start adding in all of the bread, olives, and nuts you'll chow down on. Careful with the olives - they have pits!

Personal cheese plate. That's a lot of cheese!

After the cheesemongers walk you through the cheeses, they'll give you time here and there to enjoy the cheese, chat with the other people at the table, and leisurely enjoy the experience. They'll also wander from table to table to answer questions or ask what you really like or dislike. Don't forget to mark down what you love on the order form so you can take your favorites home with you.

Order form and pairing sheet

Each ticket for the class is $40, and you get a ton of cheese for your money. I was worried I might be hungry for dinner afterward, but I was stuffed! You can purchase beer or wine at the Antonelli's Shop to bring, but if you bring your own (not purchased from the shop), there's a $4 fee. There is a variety of other classes - check out your options here.

{Antonelli's Cheese Shop official site}

TAGS : Hyde Park/North Loop , Antonelli's Cheese Shop