More fun than being on a road to nowhere.

There are two refrigerated aisles at my local grocery glittering with hard beverages having names that read like a cast list from The Hunger Games, but prior to this past weekend I had not given hard beverages much consideration. Actually, I had given them zero consideration.

Through one of my local news feeds I learned that a cheese shop is soon to open in our hamlet this month. For Valentine’s weekend they paired with Barrelhouse by Gypsy Circus (what did I tell you about these names?), Knoxville’s first meadery and cidery (and the largest cider taproom in the Southeast) to offer a cheese and cider flight pairing for takeaway. It sounded like fun so I ordered a to-go flight for the two of us to share.

Raindancer, one of Gypsy Circus’ flagship ciders and Barber’s Reserve Cheddar, from the oldest surviving cheddar maker in the world. Near Cheddar, England, of course. Tart cider and creamy-crunchy Cheddar. Feel your tastebuds swoon.

Next, Knoxmosa was matched with Pecorino Romano. (Sidenote. On a road trip in Tuscany with the children in an age of travel that seems so long, long ago we stopped at a roadside stand where a farmer was selling chunks of Pecorino and homemade bread. We nodded in appreciation to the sheep nearby as we snacked on quite possibly the gold standard of bread and cheese pairings.)

Salty cheese and a citrusy cider, so named for the city’s love of everything Volunteer Orange. In a word, 😋

Up next were the soft cheeses, Humboldt Fog and a French Blue. Let me take a moment to write about our love of ash-riddled cheese. One day in a lifetime far away at the Tesco in Břeclav we spied Morbier in the “fancy cheese” section and added it to our Käse wheelhouse. It was love at first bite; and whenever our day outings into CZ brought us through the town, more often than not a package of Morbier found its way into our tote.

Here in our little hamlet we can find both Morbier and its California cousin, Humboldt Fog, so named for the fog that rolls into Northern California’s Humboldt Bay. In true California fashion, though Humboldt Fog sells for twice (yes, twice!) the price of the French Morbier. But I digress.

“This is the match we can’t stop talking about. The Harry and Meghan of cider and cheese pairings. A little rebellious, a lot exciting. The citrusy, tart redhead (Vaudevillian cider) meets the beautiful, tangy American.”  So dramatic was the description!

Our verdict was slightly more staid. Much love for the tart cider; and our views of the Humboldt Fog go without saying.

The grand finale, that promised to be the “richest, most tantalizing pairing of them all” was a buttery and sweet-salty French Blue and the Queen of Swords, a sweet, caramel-y, and full-bodied award-winning cider, did not impress. The cheese was tres magnifique; the cider, too sweet for our untrained cider-tasting palates.

But no matter. We much enjoyed our “flight,” and dream of the day when traveling is more than a drive downtown to collect a box of cider and cheese.