Nestled along the famous Pacific Coast Highway, spitting distance from the beach in Laguna Beach, California is one of my favorite restaurants: Eva’s Caribbean Kitchen.
I’m sure it makes sense that I would love a restaurant that focuses on cuisine from the part of the world that is known for making my favorite spirit. But it gets better. Eva’s boasts a rum list of over 300 rums, as well as one of the nicest staffs you’ll ever find in the industry.
Eva is a big booster for rum (hence the 300 rums) and holds regular events at her kitchen to help educate people about rum and different ways to enjoy it. Her Rum You Into Submission series of events has been one of my favorites to attend pretty much anywhere (and I attend a lot of rum events). Her events have covered everything from rum paired with chocolate to rum paired with cigars – and recently I was asked to be a part of her pairing of rums and exquisite cheeses.
After rum, cheese may be a close second on my list of things that I love to a point that my doctor has concerns. So when Eva asked me to join her, Forrest Cokely, and Barrie Lynn (The Cheese Impresario) and spend an evening guiding guests through tastings of different rums and artisanal cheeses, I said yes the instant I stopped hyperventilating.
Eva, Forrest, and Barrie Lynn worked very hard to come up with our pairing list (with me seated comfortably in the Coattails section) and provided a truly spectacular list for our guests. Zaya, Clement Premiere Canne, Dos Maderas P/X, Rhum JM 1997, and Plantation Grand Reserve Barbados were paired with cheeses from small cheesemakers from Wisconsin (you can read Forrest’s write up of the event here).
Käse Meister Piña Colada Jack, made by Meister Cheese Company, made its world restaurant premier – and was every bit as delicious as it sounds, especially paired with rum. Joining the Piña Colada cheese on the plates were Holland’s Family Farm’s Foenegreek Gouda, Sartori Foods’ Raspberry BellaVitano (my personal favorite of the night), Widmer’s Cheese Cellars’ Aged Brick Spread, and Hook’s Cheese Company’s 10-year Old Cheddar (which was older than some of the rums we were sipping and every bit as delicious).
Forrest, Barrie Lynn, and I guided our guests through each step of the tasting – giving notes on the production of the rums and cheeses and even how to best taste them together. Meanwhile Eva and her staff cooked up a storm and provided everyone with an incredible multicourse meal of Caribbean cuisine.
I could go into more detail, but why waste the typing when Eva sent me this fantastic video of Forrest, Barrie Lynn and some layabout explaining what everyone was eating and drinking?
Eva’s next Rum You Into Submission event is coming in April, but before that, Eva, Forrest, and I will be launching Orange County’s new Rum Club! On March 31, 2011 we’ll all be at Eva’s for our first meeting about rum, rum, and more rum. More details will be coming soon, but I can tell you that we’ll be tasting some very select rums, including a rum blend that Forrest and I have been aging ourselves for a full year in a used rye whiskey cask! Stay tuned to this spot for more info.