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A gaggle of eager, happily chatty women salt-and-peppered with a few guys wearing skeptic expressions…sounds like Bunco night at the homestead when hubbies arrive to pick up their gambling- and chardonnay-loving wives. But last night, it was the scene at a cheese and chocolate pairing session at the new Dallmann Fine Chocolate Boutique (http://www.dallmannconfections.com) at Del Mar’s Flower Hill Promenade.

Cheese and chocolate?

Don’t turn up your nose as though you’ve just inhaled limburger. Dairy fat is an incredible thing and it’s the protein-laced common thread that binds what proprietor Isabella Valencia refers to (along with wine) as her “favorite hobbies.” In the night’s opening dissertation, she referred to her truffles and fromage provided by fellow local business, Venissimo Cheese, as being “like bread and butter.” By the end of the night, the newly-educated choir walked away concurring with that assertion and ready to sing this duo’s praises.

A tip from the tasting—when sampling these items in tandem, start with the cheese (particularly soft varieties like brie) and work them around to coat your mouth. Follow up with the chocolate and repeat the process to experience the over-the-top palate magic that ensues. Add in some wine (in addition to six cheeses and six truffles, admission into last night’s session included a glass each of Barbera d’Alba, Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc and Prosecco) and you have a wildly successful threesome. The whole thing is quite sexy, actually, and, though it seems funny to type after saying that, the messiest cheeses go best with the creamiest, less-set chocolates.

Hey, who are you to judge me if you haven’t walked a mile in my shoes or slept a night in my hard rind-littered, chocolate-smeared sheets? My favorite pairing of the night was Fromage D’Affinois, a creamy, buttery double crème cow’s milk that melded seamlessly with Valencia’s 60% dark chocolate truffle, followed by a lemon-thyme caramel-filled truffle served with a Bucherodin aged French goat cheese. That match was more contrast than complement and made for a great blend on the tongue

Next week’s session will aim on marrying chocolate with a variety of salts. Again, it may not sound like a natural fit, but for anyone who’s enjoyed Dallmann’s best-selling sea salt caramel (which goes great with the fenugreek-instilled butterscotch notes of Tumalo Farms’ Fenacho cheese…in case you were wondering), you know this duo’s outstanding. That event will take place Thursday, August 3 at 6:30 PM and the cost is $35 per person. Dallmann Confections is located at 2670 Villa De La Valle, Suite A270, in Del Mar.

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