Brasserie 8 1/2 dinner hosted by the Wisconsin Cheese Board

Being fans of cheese (and having just returned from the Midwest), we were so excited to be invited by the Wisconsin Cheese Board to a dinner held at Brasserie 8 1/2 in NYC. They were in town for the Fancy Food Show and had arranged for Executive Chef Julian Alonzo to create an elaborate 9-course meal.  So we sat down for an elegant 4 hour+ meal and enjoyed the company of our friendly hosts and other attending food writers.
The amuse bouche was beautiful.  From left to right, we had the Maine Diver Sea Scallop Ceviche with Armando Manni Olive Oil "Per Mi Figlio", Croque Madame Featuring Wisconsin Crescenza Stracchino, and the Hearts of Palm with Asparagus Ice Cream and Vanilla Fleur de Sel.
1st Course:  Large cubes of Heirloom Tomatoes were wrapped with delicate Mediterranean Dorade and served with Watermelon Salad.
On top, Tomato Consommé was added to create a fresh first course.
2nd CourseJapanese Yellowtail and Avocado Roulade with sliced Radish, Sea Beans, Passion Fruit, and a Yuzu-sweetened seaweed crisp. 
3rd CourseBrioche Crusted Arctic Char with "Parmesan Noodles," Basil, and Patty Pan Squash.  The Parmesan noodles were made with (and tasted more like) agar.  They were surprisingly not salty, but interesting.
4th Course:  Crispy Zucchini Blossom Flower stuffed with Lobster, English Pea Puree, and Shaved Asparagus.  I love stuffed squash blossoms, and having it filled with lobster elevated this dish. 
5th CourseSoft Boiled Upstate Farm Hen's Egg with Morel Mushrooms, morel mushroom broth foam, and Ham.  We've enjoyed incarnations of this dish at Telepan, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and at home, so it was no surprise that we loved the egg yolk mixed with morel mushrooms.  The ham made this dish more savory than others, but it was still a successful dish.
6th CourseAhi Tuna Wrapped in Lardo with Haricot Verts Puree and Chanterelle Mushrooms.  My hubby and I both enjoyed this dish - he's a big fan of lardo (Italian cured pork fat) and I love ahi tuna and yellow chanterelle mushrooms. 
7th CourseRoasted Vermont Quail and Hudson Valley duck Foie Gras with Pickled Rhubarb and Pea Sprouts.  This rich dish was our favorite of the night as we enjoyed a very generous portion of foie gras.
8th CourseWisconsin Artisanal Cheese Plate.  Given that the Wisconsin Cheese Board was sponsoring this dinner, we were eagerly anticipating this course.
1. Raspberry BellaVitano:  The cheese's name comes from it being soaked in raspberry ale versus it tasting like fruit.  This cheese was more savory, with a Parmesan flavor and creamy texture.
2. Les Freres:  This creamy washed-rind cheese is made in 2-lb wheels and cave aged to give it a distinctively earthy, fruity flavor.
3. 10-Year old Cheddar:  My hubby loved this extra sharp cheddar because of its deep flavor and creamy texture.
4. Marieke's Foenugreek Gouda:  I loved this cheese which curiously reminded me of maple walnut fudge.  The foenugreek seeds give the nutty, maple-like flavor to this creamy Goua.
5. Moody Blue:  We both loved this creamy blue cheese.  It's smoked over fruit wood which gives it the smoky flavor with hints of nuts and coffee that we enjoyed.
6. Dunbarton Blue:  Though it was a close call, my hubby ended up calling this cheese his favorite of the night.  Made of fresh raw milk, it was the stronger of the two blues.

Dessert course:  I thoroughly enjoyed the Frozen banana pudding with white chocolate swirl.  Maybe it was because it reminded me of how my parents used to put bananas in the freezer for my brother and me to enjoy as kids. 

MignardiseFruit jelly, White chocolate truffle, and little cream puffs or profiteroles.  A wonderful ending to a delicious meal.

Brasserie 8 1/2 is located at 9 W 57th St (btwn 5th and 6th Aves) in NYC.
Many of these cheeses are available in NYC at Murray's Cheese Shop and Whole Foods.  We'll definitely keep an eye out for them!
Brasserie 8 1/2 on Urbanspoon

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