French brandy St-Rémy has a new gastronomic collaboration with award-winning cheesemonger, Rodolphe Le Meunier. And whether or not you’ve noticed it yet, brandy pairing is becoming rather popular. I’ve previously had it with rich desserts, even adding it as an ingredient when baking, and of course in sweet and savoury sauces. I’ve also enjoyed it in hot drinks from time to time. But this is the first time the spirit has really blown my mind. Cheese and wine are an easy match made in heaven. So why not ramp it up with brandy, another grape-based drink, for an even more intense relationship.
Le Pont du la Tour is a French restaurant that sits on the south side of Tower Bridge with, unsurprisingly, fantastic views of the sights and over River Thames. Here is an establishment first on this new trend, and it’s executed wonderfully. Six cheeses have been paired beautifully with two St-Rémy brandies. First the VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) along with a Stilton, followed by a hard nutty Swiss mountain cheese and a runny Normandy Camembert. Brandy’s a drink best paired with powerful flavours and aromas. The richness needs to collide with another rich and each of the cheeses enhanced the floral flavours of the brandy. The taste seemed to go on forever.
The second brandy was an XO, meaning Extra Old, which in turn means you can ramp up the fat and body of the cheese you drink it alongside. We tasted a goats cheese, a hard 36-month aged Mimolette, and – my top paired – bleu de Laqueuille. Now this was my first ‘real’ lesson in brandy, but I felt like I could go stronger, more aged, with the cheese sipping this exclusive brandy. I was thinking parmesan… Either it’s a very good lesson with Le Pont de la Tour, or I’m a natural brandy drinker. Sipping brandy and adding a carefully chosen cheese to the mix, and suddenly the flavour when paired with the powerful aromas really rang through.
Both St Remy brandy and Le Meunier share the same values of authenticity, simplicity and generosity. Plus the belief that both brandy and cheese taste better enjoyed in the company of friends. So head on down to river-side restaurant Le Pont de la Tour. It’s a cheese person’s absolute dream. And the brandy royally tops it off. Rather, it takes centre stage, the cheese transforming the fine St-Rémy brandies into a tipple I’d choose again and not just as a nightcap. I feel like I should have given this drink more time, sooner.