To Dream In Triple Cream: “It’s Not You, It’s Brie,” Kirstin Jackson, & Assemblage Monte Bello

If it’s not me, but brie …

then aren’t I free,

to eschew my filigree

of daintily

demurring second portionry

when said bounty

is offered me?


This is the way the mind runs whilst reading Kirstin Jackson’s fabulous book “It’s Not You, It’s Brie.”

In my estimation, the book is one of the most canny reconciliations of conspiratorial low-brow boho sass and high-brow hard-core food-nerd knowledge to be published in recent years; meaning, it is a pleasure to learn this much, and I applaud Kirstin for writing it, and I applaud the good folks at Perigree/Penguin for releasing it.

And more than that even, I applaud Kirstin, and I applaud us, for working it out for Kirstin to join us for Assemblage Monte Bello this weekend!

It's Not You, It's Brie ...

It’s Not You, It’s Brie …

Kirstin has in fact already made her presence felt; she curated all the cheeses for our Component Tasting back in March, and is doing so for Assemblage Monte Bello this weekend, and for our Final Assemblage Event in May as well. But it’s THIS weekend that the magic truly happens, because Kirstin Jackson herself will be joining us and our guests for the event! She’ll be here to mingle, talk cheese, sign books, and perhaps (see below!) offer tips on the proper time and use for AquaNet Hairspray.


I had a chance to correspond with Kirstin Jackson recently, about important and vital matters related to the worlds of wine and food, wine and cheese, cheese and everything, everything and everything else, and it is my pleasure to share some highlights with you here:

–Is there a line in your book that you remember first penning, that is still in the book now, in its exact original form (meaning, totally unrevised), that you are particularly fond of?

 Besides the blurbs by important people in cheese like Janet Fletcher or Max McCalman that I took hours to write? Hmmm…

 I actually got very lucky with my editor. Though she let me know if I needed to better explain something, she and the copy editors let me keep most the original wording. I do like the following lines. They actually let me use all of them. It’s about a cheese style- very aged, old, dry, pressed cheeses.

 “If one was ever to be threatened with cheese, it would be with a Strong and Hard cheese style. A gangster, a corrupt politician, or a mom whose kid was just bullied walks into a pub. They see who did them wrong sitting in the center of the room. Right in front of everybody, they saunter over to the culprit, lift their hands above their head, and slam a dry, heavy wheel of Vella Dry Jack or Achandinah’s Capricious on the table only inches away from their enemy’s faced. Necks snap around to see what made the sound like a wooden guillotine crashing into its base. Occasionally the mom or other angry party stabs a pocketknife in to the cheese for emphasis, but regardless, the threat is served. These cheeses are serious.”

–You mention Pat Benatar in your book. Do you have a favorite song? And did you ever use AquaNet?

 I keep it classic with Pat. Love is a Battlefield all the way. It’s when you get the best use of her opera training and her strategic move of using tights as pants. I use AquaNet at Halloween. 1940 hairstyles or hair metal bangs require it.

–After Yuba Mushroom blintzes, what would be your NEXT favorite pairing with Toma?

Wine. Keeping it close to home, an aged Ridge Chardonnay, Grenache or Zin would be lovely.

–Have you ever worked with/studied with/read Alan Dundes?

Yes. He was my anthropology senior thesis advisor at Cal before he passed away. Wonderful, old school folklorist and hilarious man with tremendous energy. He helped a lot of people realize the importance of folklore in everyday life.

–You describe Bellwether San Andreas as being a somewhat not ideal pairing partner for a plusher varietal like zinfandel; how do you think it would fair with an older-vine field-blended zinfandel like our Geyserville; a blend that features a notable percentage of carignane in the blend?

I really like that idea. Aged Zins and Rhones are great friends to sheep milk cheeses like San Andreas or Pepato. They hang out all the time. The key is to have a subtly fruited wine with good acidity when pairing with a young pecorino style like Bellwether’s, otherwise it will overpower the cheese.

–Do you like jazz?

I do like jazz. But these days I’m confused about what is actually is. And not like, is Nicki Minaj still hip hop in her raver phase?… It’s that I heard Robert Glasper speak about his Black Radio experiments (which are awesome), and I find myself wondering now where jazz starts and stops. If it does. Black Radio sounded like great live hip hop to me, with a bit of jazz. Which live hip hop often has, I mean it’s always been part of hip hop, it inspired it, but, I wonder what else is jazz is that I don’t know about.

–Are you working on another book? If yes, can you tell us a secret about it? And if not, then what’s next for you?

I’m still taking it step by step on the book level. I’d like to look a little bit beyond the United States though, so when I come back to write about domestic cheese again, I’ll come back fresh. Or maybe with a little Euro mixed in?

–What’s the coolest pair of shoes you own, and do  you wear them when you teach cheese classes?

Coolest? I’m not sure. I like to wear my grey cowboy boots a lot, and often to classes.

–Why doesn’t Limburger sell in California?

Most people here didn’t grow up on it. Its deliciousness was part of the pub culture for years in heavily Germanic areas like Wisconsin and Illinois (the cheese was originally German), when people would eat it slathered on dark bread with a side of beer. Prohibition changed the habit, but the taste remained an acquired one, mainly in midwestern states. We don’t understand the pungent thrill of it yet here.

–If the perfect time to drink a Monte Bello is when the primary fruit is still subtly present, but architecture has receded and allowed secondary character to emerge, but the wine is still fresh and forward, with only the slightest foreshadowing of the most overtly rustic and tertiary flavor components being felt, then how aged is exactly just right for Franklin’s Teleme?

It depends on how funky you like it. It will never develop those fierce washed-rind tertiary flavors like Limburger will in its third or fourth week, but I like mine with a week or so of age on it after I get it home. Sometimes I just eat it that night though.


Kirstin Jackson, as can be easily discerned from the above, harbors a fierce intellect, is a sharp wit, maintains an aware mind, and is a fantastic writer. I look forward to joining our guests in celebrating her achievements, enjoying her company, and luxuriating in the pungent thrill of another memorable wine event at Monte Bello.


Please note: We are hosting our annual Assemblage Monte Bello event at our Monte Bello Estate this weekend, and while Saturday is already sold out, there are still a very limited amount of tickets available for Sunday. As the entire estate is allocated to the event, there are no non-event tasting opportunities available, so if you wish to visit, we encourage you to purchase event tickets at your earliest convenience. Once Sunday sells out, no additional visitation will be possible.

Assemblage Monte Bello
Date: 4/28/2013 (Sunday)
11:00am – 5:00pm

Members: complimentary (up to 4 tickets)

Public: $30 per ticket

RSVP by April 25th

Eventbrite - Assemblage Monte Bello - April 27th & 28th, 11am-5pm


p.s. The answer to the question posed at the beginning of this post is … yes.

Categories: Events, Food & Wine Pairing, Monte Bello, Offerings, RIDGE Questionnaire, Tasting Events/Opportunities, Wine Tales

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 reply


  1. California cheese, cheese and wine pairing, Ridge winery, Montebello

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: