Going underground to dine on rich, illegal cheese

Written by
Photo by Javier Cabral, of munchies.vice.com

Even if you haven’t tried them yourself, chances are you know someone who has.  We’re talking pop-up dinners—when you shell out cash to go to a stranger’s house and have them cook a meal for you, usually a really expensive meal.

Pop-up dinners are nothing new for Javier Cabral, a food blogger for VICE.  But recently he went to a rather unusual one in the hills of Highland Park.  He was one of a group of people who paid $125 a head for a nine-course dinner with wine pairings, and a touch of the forbidden:

A cheese cart was the biggest attraction of the dinner at the home of chef Laurent Quenioux.

“The cheeses on this cheese cart were all made of raw milk,” Cabral said. “These cheeses are extremely pungent. Some taste like chocolate bars. Others taste like taking a spoonful of penicillin.”

Being unpasteurized and less than 60 days old, the cheeses were actually illegal in the United States, he said.

But participants in an underground dinner are willing to live a little dangerously.

“These cheeses, because they are illegal, he has to smuggle it in himself,” Cabral said. “Three of the last four times he got caught by Customs and they confiscated all his cheeses.”