You may recognize these boys from Season 7 of Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race (they won, by the way). But identical twins Charlie Kalish and Michael Kalish, better known as the Cheese Twins, take their cheese—and their grilled cheese sandwiches—very seriously.
And they have the cheese cred to prove it. Originally from Northern California, these surfer guys exchanged the beach for the Alps for a few years, training across France, Switzerland, and Italy and learning from the best cheese makers in the world.
After their European adventures followed by their Food Network stint, the twins went back to their NorCal roots and linked up with Meiomi of Napa-Sonoma. They have since tasted more than 100 types of cheese paired with Meiomi’s portfolio of wines—it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!
What they found in these pairings was “flavor bomb after flavor bomb;” a perfect marriage of wine and cheese. So, naturally, we needed to know more. Here, a clip of our chat with the boys.
Have you been to Dallas before?
Charlie and Michael: Never!
What are you most looking forward to in Dallas?
Charlie: My wife went to Dallas last year and was impressed with the food scene, so I’m definitely looking forward to experiencing it.
Michael: Whenever I think of Texas, I think of barbecue. So I’m especially excited about the Opening Night: ‘Cue It Up event.
Charlie: Harbison by Cellars of Jasper Hill; and my second favorite is Caveman Blue by Rogue Creamery.
Michael: Fresh goat cheese; and my second favorite is Gruyere.
What are some of the best pairings you’ve found with cheese and Meiomi?
Charlie and Michael: Here are some of our favorite pairings…
Meiomi Chardonnay pairs perfectly with great, fudgy textures with matching acidity:
- Soft, mold-ripened, triple cream cheese: “Supreme” from Laura Chenel or “St. Stephen” Four Fat Fowl
- Soft, mold-ripened goat cheese: “Cremont” from Vermont Butter & Cheese
- Cheddar: Cellars of Jasper Hill Cabot Clothbound Cheddar
Meiomi Pinot Noir pairs wonderfully with salty, caramel-y aged cheeses and creamy, rich blues:
- Soft, mold-ripened cheese: “Brie” from Marin French Cheese
- Hard aged goat/sheep milk cheese: “Garrotxa” from Spain or Lamb Chopper from Cypress Grove
- Hard aged cow milk cheese: “Parmigiano Reggiano” from Italy or “Sarvechio Parmesan” from Sartori
- Blue cheese: “Caveman Blue” from Rogue Creamery or “Shakerag Blue” from Sequatchie Cove
Meiomi Rosé pairs excellently with cheeses that have bright apple acidity and velvety textures:
- Fresh goat milk cheese: “Chef’s Chevre” from Laura Chenel
- Fresh cow milk cheese: “Foggy Morning” from Nicasio Valley Cheese Co.
- Soft, ripened goat cheese: “Cupole” from Vermont Butter & Cheese
Biggest surprise when pairing cheese with Meiomi?
Charlie and Michael: We actually ran out of cheese one night, but we wanted to keep pairing. So, we improvised and dug out some Parmigiano-Reggiano and tried it out with the Meiomi pinot noir. It was transformative! You never really think to put Parmigiano-Reggiano on a cheese plate—it’s usually just made into parmesan crisps or grated on top of pasta. So it was a huge shock. A good shock! And it opened the floodgates; it created a new category of pairings for us.
What should be on everyone’s cheese tray at their next party?
Michael: I like a diversity of cheeses when you make a cheese plate for a group—mild to strong; and a variety of colors. A triple cream is a must-have—it’s the Justin Bieber of cheeses, or the John Legend. Ha. What I mean is that it’s a crowd favorite, and it makes the board approachable. Manchego for a sheep’s milk cheese is also great, as are aged cheddars from Vermont. Then, you can ratchet up the intensity with stronger cheeses, so something like a blue cheddar from Wisconsin. An aged gouda offers a caramel-y note and crunch, which is also a nice touch.