Maybe we should have talked about cheese before beer; after all, the combination of cheese and chocolate requires a slightly smaller leap of faith. (Think of all the decadent Italian treats that are based on ricotta and mascarpone -- not to mention a plethora of chocolate cheesecake innovations.) It's last but not least for a good reason, though: the innovation of two Oregon-based artisan food companies takes the concept of cheese and chocolate to new heights.
In 2004, Rogue Creamery and Rogue Ales joined forces, and foodies rejoiced. The farmers brought Holstein whole milk cheese curd, the brewers contributed their infamous Chocolate Stout, and the award-winning Rogue Chocolate Stout Cheddar was born [source: Realbeer.com].
That's right, a chocolate cheddar, totally debunking the notion that a milk-based chocolate product should be bland and sweet. But if the dark brown marbling of Rogue's cheese is a bit too intimidating, there are other options. Award-winning Cocoa Cardona is an aged goat milk cheese with a subtle chocolate flavor, thanks to its cocoa-rubbed rind [source: Carr Valley Cheese]. An alternative approach: Try serving an appetizer of hot, crusty French bread drizzled with olive oil and topped with dark chocolate and Brie.