Media tastings are not reviews, but they are a great way for me to learn more about full menu offerings, dish updates, and special events from our local restaurants to share with readers. At this point, media tasting invitations are being accepted from any local restaurant who would like coverage on Feasting Fort Collins – no matter if they’ve been previously reviewed or not.
Media tasting photos are uploaded on Feasting Fort Collins Instagram during (or shortly after) the event, so be sure to follow me on there for the sneak peek before it hits the site.
We know wine pairing dinners. We know craft beer pairing dinners. These are standard pairing experiences that you can find all over Fort Collins. But let me tell you about something new in the pairing realm…
Tea and cheese pairings.
Yes. That’s right. Tea and cheese. It sounds odd, for sure. Especially since most tea generally isn’t combined with dairy. But, Happy Lucky’s Teahouse, with the collaboration from the Welsh Rabbit, is combining Eastern and Western flavors for a brand new culinary experience.
I had a chance to sit with Kari Grossman from Happy Lucky’s along with Olivia Marks, their store manager and “tea sommelier.” While this isn’t really a certified position, Olivia is about as passionate as they come in regards to tea and food. And honestly, that’s truly the secret ingredient to most unique and worthwhile flavor experiences that are shared in our city. It’s their passion that drives their interest and education in tea, and inspires them to expand that into their new food pairings.
You can read their post about their new “tea sommelier service” on their Happy Lucky’s tea blog that details what this experience is from their perspective.
On my end, I was highly interested in a unique and innovative culinary experience. I am a sucker for people who think outside the box, who put passion on the plate, and who pioneer new dining adventures for people to enjoy. Once I read about this, my initial gut reaction was, “What??!” Quickly followed by, “OMG. I have to try this. This is different.”
Both Olivia and Kari’s passions about tea and flavor pairings are downright palpable. And while that may have been amplified because of it being a media tasting with a writer who appreciates their culinary perspective, I have no doubt that Feasting Fort Collins readers are of the same ilk and would geek out on this as much as we did.
One aspect that I believe certainly needs highlighting is how most pairing experiences in Fort Collins are alcohol centric – wine, beer, or cocktails. Sometimes two of the three at the same time! There are a number of dining enthusiasts who miss out on pairing experiences because they may have a low tolerance for alcohol and can’t stomach a fully paired multi-course menu. Or, maybe they don’t drink at all, which is quite admittedly difficult to navigate in the Napa Valley of craft beer. It seems like we’re a beer soaked town in every aspect. Happy Lucky’s wants to fill that culinary space to include people who may have been missing out on these moments that reflect the changing flavors of Everlasting Gobstoppers in real life.
Their tea and cheese pairings will change weekly and seasonally, as tea and cheeses are seasonal products (I didn’t realize this until we mentioned it, and it was an “Oh, yes, that’s right” kind of moment). So each week you may see brand new pairings to enjoy.
Last week I nibbled on Powerful Welsh Cheddar and Notre Dame Brie paired with Darjeeling Tea (Glenburn Monsoon Season) and Dragonwell ‘Long Jing’ Green Tea. There are two plates available – meat and cheese or chocolate and cheese. Frankly, I think it’s worth getting both.
Olivia ceremoniously prepared and served the Dragonwell tea over a drip tray, “warming the vessel” in the process. We sipped and slurped – the proper way to taste tea to identify nuanced flavors. It was eye-opening to notice how the delicate and lightly steeped flavor of the green tea completely balanced the natural bitterness of the brie rind.
In addition to tea and cheese pairings, Happy Lucky’s also has tea-infused scones baked by Linden Street Cafe. We enjoyed Shakti Chai and Madame Grey in both tea and scone forms! Madame Grey was a fabulous, sweet, floral flavor, with an equally beautiful scone.
Happy Lucky’s has a whole lot of opportunity for flavor exploration – tea and cheese pairings, tea-infused foods, and more in depth tea tastings with their “Leafsters” where you can compare the different flavors of various green teas, or even the different flavor profiles of a specific tea harvested in different timelines. It’s fascinating. And something even the most beer and wine pairing-dedicated person should try at least once.