Smile and Say Cheese: The Loft Cheese Gallery
Grab your friends, family, or a special date to create a unique dining experience where conversations flow and your palate is challenged.
The Loft Cheese Gallery at the Montage Resort and Spa in Laguna Beach is a perfect choice for someone looking to trade in the typical humdrum sit-down dinner for an engaging interactive experience.
Situated on the fourth floor of the resort, The Loft offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean in a casual yet elegant dining area.
As you enter the bistro an interactive cheese bar featuring an international cheese selection demands your attention. The bar is a work of art starting with the backdrop, an “Old World” style six-foot high brick rotisserie that crackles and churns adding warmth and comfort. On the bar, the artisan cheeses are gracefully displayed along with a variety of local honeys, house-made condiments, nuts, crisp crackers, fresh baked breads, seasonal famer market fruits and wines.
Chef Casey Overton oversees the professional fromagiers who will guide you and your guests through the beautiful display before everyone sits down to sample. Working with 40 honeys and close to 100 cheeses, the fromagiers are excellent at quickly narrowing down your personal tastes.
Once you are seated, the fromagier will customize the experience so no two visits are ever the same and a unique plate of “Perfect Bites” or a cheese plate will be created. The Loft also provides a sommelier who will suggest the perfect wine to bring out the flavors in the cheese.
“Perfect Bites” are a selection of cheeses with breads, crackers and accompaniments. Each bite is layered in diverse flavors and textures complimenting each other. A few examples of “Perfect Bites” are La grein, apple mustard and caramelized onions or Daffinoise creamy wildflower honey, marcona almonds and fresh raspberry or Valdeon with blackberry and bitter chocolate.
The cheese plates will also tantalize your taste buds with selections like Hoja Santa, a soft goat cheese from Dallas wrapped in sassafras leaves, or local favorites like Winchester Aged Gouda from Winchester County, California and an international choice, Zamarano, rare raw milk Manchego from the quaint quiet town of Zamora in Spain. Each cheese selection is paired with one of 24 specialty house-made condiments such as blackberry port jelly, lavender caramel, avocado honey and nectarine and cherry butter. The condiments create the perfect tasteful marriage with selected cheeses.
This experience is a great idea for breaking the ice on a first or second date or with family and friends. It truly ignites conversation, creates lasting memories and everyone leaves with a little more knowledge in international and local cheese facts and tastes.
Cheese plates range from $18 for 2 cheeses, to $39 for 8 cheeses. The wine is charged by glass and bottle.Call for reservations and speak with the fromagier for the “Perfect Bites.”
Michelle Mears-Gerst is a writer in Orange County and her favorite Perfect Bite was the Valdeon with blackberry and bitter chocolate. She was intrigued to learn that blue cheese could play in harmony with chocolate and blackberries. You can find her at @sunnynsocal or on Facebook.