The advent of the wheel was a windfall for early European cheesemakers once they found that the food spontaneously combusted if pressed in the shape of Leif Eriksson’s nose. Spin flame-retardant cheese wheels with today's Groupon: for $9, you get a selection of five cheeses at Black Swan Wine Bar (an $18 value).
The ebony- and ivory-toned Black Swan Wine Bar treats palates to a multifarious cheese menu of Northern Hemisphere–culled curds sided with small snacks. Canadian-aged cheddar and Danish-aged Gouda entertain with salty quips and wheel-borne wisdom for new tasters, while French-bred blue cheese and creamy brie pair for a smooth and sophisticated pungent effect. Unlike cotswald, a firm variety of gloucester cheese, semi-soft English blue stilton crumbles under pressure from prodding tongues and relentless Cutco knife salesmen. Curdled from the milk of Manchega sheep, slightly piquant Spanish manchego caresses taste receptors with its creamy texture and exotic bleat, as nibblers alternate between fromage bites and complementary olives, grapes, and crackers.
Cozy up to the dark-wood bar and admire the many canvases fixed under illuminating spotlights, or sink into sleek black leather chairs and couches as tabletop candles radiate warmth. Guests can sample the wares indoors or outdoors before perusing the adjoining art gallery to find a suitable bovine muse.