Monday, November 29, 2010

Day Two Ninety Three - Caper Marriage Mondays

Capers huh? I feel that they are an under utilized ingredient in American cuisine, traditionally found in the cuisine of the Mediterranean, featured in a dish or as an adornment. Lets distinguish between the two distinct types we are used to seeing on the plate: the caper bud, the smaller of the two, traditionally salted and pickled and found in sauces such as Italian puttanesca; or should the caper bud not be pickled, it will turn into a caper berry and you can find this on Greek meze plates typically. Both have a salty savory aromatic feel to them, however the caper berry is less in your face than its younger cousin the caper bud.

So why choose this salty Mediterranean morsel this week? I've chosen specifically to focus on the caper bud as I feel that the caper berry is utilized more frequently in American cuisine and is less daunting to the palate, so why not take on the big guns this week? I think that when utilized correctly with the right sort of accompaniments, it is delish and a lovely addition to a variety of different dishes.

What cheese might work with this salty mouthful?

Contestant Number # 1: Humboldt Fog - Young goat's milk cheese crafted by the cheese mavens out at Cypress Grove in California. This cheese has a classic bloomy rind with a cream line and an interior of fresh lactic tangy young goat's milk paste split in two by the center line of black vegetable ash. Clean, bright, citrus-y, and delish, it's hard to go wrong here...But will this young goat's milk cheese have what it takes to take on our caper bud this week?

image courtesy of

Contestant Number # 2 : Gorgonzola Dolce - Classic semi-sweet Italian blue cheese that has the characteristic blue piquant-ness but is more delicate and round on the palate than its spicy punchy Gorgonzola cousins. Made with pasteurized cow's milk aged for about three months, this cheese just melts in your mouth. Will it melt in the right ways to strike our caper bud's cords?

Contestant Number # 3: Beaufort - Our last and final contestant is made in some of the largest wheels of cheese produced worldwide. It is a raw Cow's milk cheese hailing from the French region of Haute Savoie and is easily recognizable by its sides that curve inward into the yellow-y cheese-y paste. Made in Alpine style, this is the king of its genre. The youngster version is mild, buttery, and sweet while the older, more mature Beaufort is stately, savory, nutty, butterscotchy, caramelly, and spectacularly fantastic. Will the king rule the day with our capers?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day Two Ninety Two - Sunday Dinner for one

Gosh this weekend flew by didn't it?

For tonight's blog, I thought I'd provide you all with a quick recipe for a home cooked meal I made for myself tonight -- quick sauteed tomatoes with eggplant, black olives, chick peas, shallots, EVOO, Grana Padano cheese, bay and sage leaves, crushed red pepper flakes and oregano. I had my saute with a side of egg whites for protein but I think that in actuality it would be an excellent topping for pasta or couscous or a filling for lasagna or an accompaniment to polenta. It's the sort of melange of flavors that is rustic and comforting without being too overwhelming or upfront.

To start off, chop up one shallot and place it in a pan with some EVOO over low heat to get it caramelized. While the shallot is on the stove, chop up some baby cherry tomatoes and de-pit the olives, place this to the side. For the fresh sage and bay leaves, roast in the oven at 250 for ten to twelve minutes with some EVOO. Next up, chop up the eggplant and drizzle a little bit of EVOO and sea salt over them, toss them on a stove top grill for about five minutes a side till they get a nice light char and are somewhat cooked, not all together cooked through, but cooked enough that they will cook just as fast as the other ingredients in the saute. Moving onto the chickpeas, I like to use dried chickpeas that have been soaked for eight hours and then cooked for an hour however should you not feel like you have that sort of time in you, feel free to go with the canned version.  Once that shallot is golden brown, add all of your ingredients to the saute pan, except for the grana padano, that goes in last. Cover the saute pan and let all the flavors meld together over low heat. Let it cook for about fifteen minutes till there is a luscious sheen to the mixture with that rustic homey-ness I was referring to previously. Now is time to add a nice healthy grating of Grana Padano cheese and then mix together until the cheese melts into your veggie mixture -- warming, comforting and delish. It's the perfect sort of meal for a chilly Sunday night home alone with a glass of red wine.

Have a good night folks!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day Two Ninety One - Lunch at Vaandag

Although this isn't a recap of a meal that involves a lot of cheese, it's a recap of a meal I think all of my lovely readers should know about because Vaandag is a different sort of restaurant than one traditionally finds around town...

Vaandag means today in Dutch and is a new-ish, as in four months old, East Village based restaurant specializing in Northern European influenced cuisine, featuring gin and genever cocktails with a sleek modern design.

I started with their Bohemian Spritz which was Gruner Veltliner, Vermouth blanc, St. Germain, Zirbenz Pine with Sparkling wine and grapefruit  zest -- a unique and inventive blend of flavors, overall a lovely & light drink.

We started with their bread basket which is accompanied by a homemade lentil spread and juniper gin scented butter. Included in their bread basket was a fabulous selection of their homemade breads, my favorite of which was their Rodenbach beer bread -- nutty and rustic with a homey yeasty feel, this was beer bread done right and even paid homage to the traditional dense dark brown Northern European breads. I loved it so much I even bought a loaf of it.

We then split two of their smørrebrød which are the Dutch answer to the tartine -- an open faced sandwich. The first of which was a mushroom hazelnut terrine with red spinach and a buttermilk dressing on the Rodenbach beer bread -- earthy, gamey, autumnal and warming, an excellent vegetarian take on a terrine with a nice depth of flavor profile. The second of which was their house cured gravalax made with sockeye salmon served with watercress, shallots, roe, and dill on their homemade white pullman style bread. Delish, aromatic, herbaceous, light and almost even refreshing, this showcased the restaurant's keen ability with fish. With our two tartines, we had heard that their hete bliksem "Hot Lightning" were good so we tried that as well hold the bacon. The hot lightning was sauteed fingerlings with apple and stroop syrup -- nice caramelized potatoes with a hint of rustic sweetness to them, definitely different than most potato preparations I'm used to.

Overall a delish meal! When I got home tonight, I even took some gorgonzola dolce and put it on a slice of the Rodenbach beer bread and boy was I in heaven.

It's definitely worth stopping in for lunch when it is quiet and peaceful. At dinner time, what with it being a new restaurant it may get a little hectic and crowded so go during the day on Saturday if you want to enjoy a more serene meal.

130 2nd Avenue
NYC 10004

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day Two Ninety - Thanksgiving Leftover GCF

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving meal shared with friends and family. We certainly did. My mother outdid herself, each dish was better than the last. Of course she made her fabulous homemade bread. Then for the first course there was a puree of parsnip and celeriac topped with a quail egg, sauteed duxelles and brussel sprout leaves -- decadent, sensual, smooth, earthy, and truly fabulous. The following course was beet risotto topped with sauteed butternut squash and chestnuts and fried sage leaves -- nutty, aromatic, herbal and fantastic. Next up was a nice salad, homemade cranberry walnut biscuits, homemade cranberry sauce and homemade quince paste to pair with the cheese.

Why beet risotto? Well that's because my family spent a Christmas in Rome one year and we discovered that beet risotto was a traditional New Year's/celebratory Roman dish and yesterday certainly was a celebration.

And of course homemade desserts -- pecan sandies, decaf espresso cheesecakes, pumpkin walnut cakes, and a dark chocolate tofu cake, all served in individual cupcake portions.

Overall, a truly fantastic meal! Totally inventive and unique but above and beyond fantastic.

First course

Second course

So what's on the docket for our GCF this week? Let's use some of that quince paste and go from there?

Apple pies, pumpkin pies, one or the other tend to find its way onto the Thanksgiving table, so why not take the apples that go into making that pie and turn them into something else and use those plus some quince paste for the base of our sandwich.

Grab some nice McIntosh apples and slice them thinly and throw into a saute pan with some EVOO, raw honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger powder, and some sea salt and cook over low heat till the apple slices are golden brown. Pull out and place on some nice simple whole grain bread, great for its rustic nuttiness here. Top the apples with a nice amount of the quince paste and then some of yesterday's Lively Run Cayuga Blue which will add a nice salty cheesy side to the sandwich. Toast away and have this with a nice glass of Sparkling Cider, like Eve's Cidery's Bittersweet.

Enjoy folks and I hope everyone has a lovely holiday weekend.

Day Two Eighty Nine - A Preview of Thanksgiving Cheeses

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all! I hope each and everyone of you have a wonderful time today with your friends and family. I am thankful to all of you who take the time to read my daily cheese musings and hope they bring as much joy to you as they do to me.

Keeping things brief here, I thought I would provide you with a special preview of the three local cheeses I've planned for tonight's Goat's milk Thanksgiving cheese plate. I like to theme cheese selections so that they have a coherence, a goal, and most of all, a flow.

This year for Thanksgiving, I decided to go with three different local cheeses crafted with my favorite milk base -- goat's milk. Each cheese will broaden your expectations of what goat milk cheeses can be and I guarantee delight the senses. They are three of my favorite local cheeses that I think showcase the booming success of North Eastern cheese production.

So what will be having with our salad course after my mother's delish vegetarian meal?

Just a brief note about each as I don't want to reveal too much before the meal...

Cheese Number # 1 : Ardith Mae's Doolan - Crafted in rural Pennsylvania, this American artisanal cheese is a take on the classic Loire Valley Crottin's that we all know and love. Firm paste with a citrusy milky lactic tang.

Cheese Number # 2 : Consider Bardwell's Manchester - Crafted in West Pawlet, Vermont, this raw goat's milk tomme is funky and fantastic.

Cheese Number # 3 : Lively Run's Cayuga Blue - Hailing from the Finger Lakes region, this is one of very few local goat's milk blue cheeses -- stinky and exciting, yet not too overwhelming that it will frighten away the amateur blue cheese lover.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day Two Eighty Eight - Of autumnal inspirations and lunches along Madison Avenue...

Getting excited for tomorrow? Doesn't it feel finally like the holidays are here? I don't know what it is, but today feels like its the start of the holiday season. The Union Square Greenmarket was abuzz with people doing last minute shopping -- getting their brussel sprouts, turkey, apples, cranberries, cheese, and more... All stocking up for a day and weekend of celebrating with friends and family. As opposed to providing you with some recipes today because my dear mother is whipping up her spectacular vegetarian Thanksgiving  feast and my only contribution is a Thanksgiving cheese tasting, all of which will be discussed tomorrow... I thought I would provide you with a recap of yesterday's lunch at Fred's at Barney's.

Fred's is one of those department store eateries designed to be a place to escape the hussle and bussle of a day of shopping...These sorts of restaurants occupy an interesting position as they have built in clientele but  tend to not necessarily be places that one who wasn't shopping in the department store would want to eat at. That being said, the food at Fred's was lovely and it sure isn't a "shopper's only" restaurant -- the crowd was a mixture of power and business lunches, "the ladies who lunch," some tourists, some shoppers and even some neighborhood folk. Definitely an Upper East Side sort of feel... I imagine at night, it is actually a nice quiet spot to grab a bite.

The menu was a mixture of American and Italian classics -- pizzas, pastas, salads, sandwiches, risottos, omelettes, entrees, burgers, it truly had something for everyone, young, old, picky or open minded. Affordable and reasonable it isn't, overly expensive it isn't either -- definitely pricey however that comes with the locale.

I decided to order their autumn salad which was mixed greens, radicchio, sauteed brussel sprouts and butternut squash, pumpkin seeds, and fresh goat's cheese lightly dressed with a vinaigrette -- simple, full of harvest veggies with a rustic earthiness and the nice bitterness of the radicchio and the creamy, grassy, brightness of the cheese with a perfect amount of herbaceousness. Delish and perfect for me..

Also good to know -- they have great rosemary foccacia there!

I can't speak for the remainder of the menu, but I know my salad was delish and definitely something I would have again...maybe that's also because everything in it I love dearly...but either way, it satisfied me.

Fred's at Barney's
660 Madison Avenue, 9th floor
NYC 10065

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! Good luck cooking to all of you in your kitchens this evening and good luck to all of you travelling today.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day Two Eighty Seven - Results

This was a week about wine and cheese pairing so no recipe here...

Who won this week?

Let's first narrow the competition by discussing who didn't win...unfortunately my favorite liquor, Hendrick's Gin just simply didn't cut it. Why? Because the goat cheese's herbs will overwhelm the delicate flavors of the gin...that being said a nice simple chevre, preferably an aged one with a firm texture would be excellent for the gin. The floral cucumber flavors of the gin are so delicate, it needs something equally delicate to go with it.

That leaves us with a head on race between a Spaniard and a Frenchie...who triumphs?

The Cava although delish, easy drinking, and super dry will be fine with the herbed chevre but is not the ideal choice. Why? Because of the herbaceousness of the cheese -- for such a flavor forward cheese you need a crisp, minerally wine that will allow the herbaceousness of the cheese to sing but make it not only about the herbs coating the cheese but about the grassy, lactic, citrus notes present in the chevre as well. The citrus and green grassy notes in the Sancerre will bring out the chevre's nuances...Here it is about certain flavor profiles being present in both the wine and the cheese and each will test the others' limits to push them to their best while still having significant differences..Make sense?

Go ahead and try a glass of nice Sancerre with a sliver of herbed chevre, I guarantee you will be satisfied!

Gearing up for Thanksgiving? Stay tuned for some fun veggie and cheesy recipes tomorrow!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day Two Eighty Six - Ardith Mae's Herb Infused Fresh Chevre Marriage Mondays

Wow, getting specific today, aren't I? I chose this cheese because Ardith Mae has it on holiday special and I thought an herbed chevre Marriage Mondays would be fun this week. Ardith Mae's herbed chevre is fresh, lactic, tangy, grassy, herbaceous, and somewhat puckery with a nice citrus-y/green sort of feel to it. Many goat cheese producers make an herb infused goat's milk cheese because it is approachable yet somewhat dressed up... It is the sort of cheese that announces its presence but manages to not fully take over.

So what would you serve with an herbed chevre?

Contestant Number # 1: Cava - Spain's answer to the French bubbly drink of choice -- Champagne. Aged on the lees (the spent yeast utilized in fermentation), they tend to be dry yet refreshing. Pale and straw like in color, cavas have green apple, pear, and citrus notes with a hint of just baked bread scent from the yeast. Easy drinking and celebratory! Will it be that right sort of celebration for our herbed chevre?

Contestant Number # 2: Sancerre - Our second contestant traditionally hails from the Loire Valley region of France, primarily made utilizing the Sauvignon Blanc grape. They are characterized as being dry, crisp, light, minerally, elegant wines. Full of peach and yellow raspberry notes with a nice light floral and grassy side to them. Will elegance win out this week?

Contestant Number # 3: Hendrick's & Soda - Woah, I'm switching things up this week, adding a cocktail in the place of a third wine or beer....Hendrick's hails from across the pond as well, this time however it is Scotland. Like most gins it has a fabulous nose of botanicals, however Hendrick's dials up the floral side due to its mixture of four different types of floral notes -- elderflower, chamomile, meadowsweet, and Bulgarian rose petal. It also has a fresh, crisp, green side due to the cucumber infusion. All in all, it has a fantastically floral and vegetal nose and flavor profile. Served with some ice and some sparkling water, it will knock your socks off. But will it be too floral and vegetal for the herb infused chevre?

Wait till tomorrow to find out!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day Two Eighty Five - Fast Easy Fresh Dinners for One - Roasted Butternut Squash

What to make for dinner tonight?

The butternut squash I got at the farmer's market last week should be excellent right about now, so why not roast that baby and top it with all sorts of yummy veggie and cheesy goodness?

It's one of those Sundays that I wanted something comforting and homey but still healthy and not too heavy that I feel like afterwards all I want to do is take a nap. A simple recipe where you can relax and read the New York Times while the squash cooks.

Cut the butternut squash in half and drizzle EVOO on each side. Top with salt and pepper and some fresh sage. Pop into the oven at 300 degrees for about 30 to 35 minutes, till its golden brown and tender to the fork. While your butternut squash is cooking, chop up a yellow bell pepper, heirloom cherry tomatoes, a shallot, and basil. Add corn kernels and pepitas for a nice salty crunch to this chop chop salad. Top with some EVOO, salt, and fresh oregano. Place to the side and let marinate. About seven minutes before the butternut is done, pull out and top with some grated Comte cheese -- the perfect creamy, nutty, butter-y, caramelly counterpart to the squash. Once the cheese is melted and the squash is golden brown, pull out and in the little hole in the center, place your veggie salad. I'd top this with some nice fresh crumbled herbed goat cheese just to dial the dish up a notch.

Enjoy your vegetarian dinner, maybe with a glass of wine and a fun movie?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day Two Eighty Four - Cream Cheese & Vic's Bagel Bar

Do you associate cream cheese as being part of the cheese family? Like in the same sort of mental category as Brie, Gruyere, Gorgonzola, and other cheeses? Probably not...You, like me, probably think of it as a great topping for a toasted bagel consumed with a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning, right?

So what is cream cheese exactly? Well it is a sweet, smooth, fresh, white cheese that is required to be 33% milkfat and have a moisture content of under 55%, with a pH range of 4.4 to 4.9%. It does not naturally mature and therefore needs to be eaten when super young and fresh, like say a Mascarpone. Did you know cream cheese dates back to the 1650s in France? Here in America, the first development of cream cheese happened in 1872 and the name Philadelphia was adopted in 1880 because it was America's culinary mecca at the time...

Why this discussion of cream cheese? Well partially because I realized I had never addressed this popular and simple cheese product and partially because of the place I went for breakfast this morning -- Vic's Bagel Bar. Vic's is run by an alumni of my Alma mater, Dartmouth, and certainly takes a different approach to the bagel joint. Instead of having different flavored cream cheeses like vegetable, lox, scallion and the such, Vic's allows you to create your own flavored cream cheese, somewhat like the create your own salad bar concept.

Step one is to decide between the sixteen different types of bagels. Step two is to decide whether you want non-fat, lowfat or regular cream cheese. And from there your choices range from sprinkles to chocolate chips to edamame to goat cheese to capers to za'atar (a Middle Eastern spice mixture) to corn and peas and more. It makes your bagel experience all your own. It is the obvious next step in the evolution of bagel aces and caters to our contemporary society's desires for an endless assortment of options. Always crowded, this is a place that sure has found a niche in our city of endless choices.

Vic's Bagel Bar
544 3rd Avenue
NYC 10016

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day Two Eighy Three : Brussels Sprouts GCF

In thinking about what to do for today, I got to thinking about traditional Thanksgiving sides and my mind landed on the green vegetable category, shock! Some people have green beans, others have brussels spouts, broccoli, spinach, you name it, there's a great variety to what green veggies you see on that Thanksgiving table.

I decided that it would be fun to do a Brussels Sprouts GCF today. So let's get going right? Quick, easy, simple and delish!

Grab a cup full of brussels and cut them all in half. Toss them in a roasting pan with EVOO, some roasted walnuts, shallots, fresh rosemary and oregano, black pepper, and salt. Roast at 250 till golden brown or for about 25 to 30 minutes. Once they are roasted, they have a subtle sweetness that plays off of the green vegetal quality, super yum if you ask me!

Next up is to grab a nice crusty crunchy baguette. On one side of the baguette put a small amount of L'Olivier's Fig Vinegar. It will add a nice fruity vinegary touch to the sandwich, just the perfect flavor profile difference.

Next up top it with some Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve. Pleasant Ridge hails from the great American cheesemaking state of Wisconsin. It is one of my favorite cheeses whether it is served plain or utilized in a GCF or in a pasta, you can't ever go wrong with Pleasant Ridge. Made in an Alpage style, it is full of buttery, caramelly, butterscotchy nutty notes and has a rich warmth to it when melted which is why I thought it would be perfect to go with our brussels. If you eat meat, I'd recommend putting some lardons into this GCF. I imagine flavor wise, it would knock your socks off, but since I don't, lets not...just as a suggestion though. If you do use the lardons, I'd recommend holding off on the fig vinegar, it would be too much going on.

Now toast away and have with a nice glass of red wine, maybe a Negroamaro from Southern Italy. They tend to be rustic, earthy light to medium bodied reds with a nice red fruit finish.

Enjoy folks!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day Two Eighty Two - Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto

Tonight I plan to catch up with some girlfriends over wine, small plates, cheese and cured meats (not for me, but for others..)  at Salumeria Rosi, Cesare Casella's resto/wine bar/cheese & salume shop. Casella's resume is extensive -- including being the executive chef at Coco Pazzo in the 1990s and more recently owning and being the executive chef at Maremma...among various television features and more! In late 2008, he ventured into a partnership with the Rosi family. The Rosi family has been in the salumi business for generations and generations. By partnering with Casella, the vision is for a traditional salumerie in Italy -- the place where you go for goodies; to visit and chat with people in the neighborhood and to enjoy a nice glass of wine and a snack.

You might think why does she who doesn't eat meat like this place if it such a meat-centric locale?

I love it because it makes New York feel like a small town -- it is the true neighborhood resto / grocer. And reasonably priced to boot! Nervous about what to order? The waiters and counter staff are super knowledgable and will help direct your choices. Next time you are on the Upper West Side, it's totally worth checking out! Even if you just go in to get some of their delish taralli and breadsticks, it will transport you out of Manhattan to a small salumeria in the Italian countryside.

Salumeria Rosi
283 Amsterdam Ave
NYC 10023

Day Two Eighty One - Meet the Maker - Focus on American Cheese Recap, Whoops a bit late

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a Murray's Cheese class focusing on American Cheese with special guest, Angela Miller of Consider Bardwell Farm. Consider Bardwell is located on 300 acres in West Pawlet, Vermont. Interestingly enough, it is actually the location of Vermont's first cheesemaking operation dating back to the mid 1860s. Run now by a few New Yorkers who fled the hussle and bussle of our great metropolis for the idyllic quiet of this gorgeous farm in Vermont -- Angela Miller (a literary agent), Russell Glover (an architect), Chris Gray (a former music industry exec) and of course their master cheesemaker, Peter Dixon.

A closed herd goat farm now with about 100 goats, Consider Bardwell purchases Jersey Cow milk from neighboring farms and this year, will make about 45,000 pounds of cheese. That's a lot of cheese if you ask me! But apparently the goal is 100,000 pounds in a few years -- an exciting goal when they released their first cheese less than a decade ago!

Let's get going with the Consider Bardwell cheeses we tried last night, right?

The first cheese we started with was actually two. It was two different versions of their Chester, a raw Jersey cow's milk tomme style cheese. The first Chester had a wild bloomy rind where as the second was washed with Oatmeal stout. Immediately you could tell that the wild bloomy rind was lighter in color than the oatmeal stout version, however the wild bloomy version had a yellower interior paste. Upon taste, the Oatmeal Stout Chester had a fabulous funk to it! Think your grandmother's basement with lots of fantastic treasures in it!!! The wild bloomy version dialed down the funk a bit that's for sure, but it exuded a nice mixture of asparagus and vegetal notes with a lovely creamy finish. Great with the Montepulciano that was served -- the wine helped the cheese open up for all the right reasons.

In case you were curious, the Chester is not always washed with an Oatmeal Stout; its washed seasonally with different beers or wines. Consider Bardwell makes 50 wheels of Chester each batch, to give you an idea of the scale of their production...each batch is aged for two months.

The next cheese we sampled was Dorset, actually their first cheese and now one of the cheeses they are most well known for -- this is a washed rind cow's milk cheese, named after the village of Dorset, VT. As Angela mentioned they were discussing making a Taleggio like cheese and this is better than any Taleggio you will find in my book. That classic stinky washed-rindness is off set with a nice buttery creaminess. It has a comforting homey quality to it. You could imagine this being a perfect cheese for a nice winter night by the fire with a glass of wine.

Moving along to the third cheese on the plate and my favorite -- Manchester.  A  firm aged goat's milk tomme with a real rawness to it. I love the fact that this is all about the terroir of Vermont -- earthy, rustic, fresh, and green -- this is a cheese that puts its Vermont roots on display for all the right reasons!  Named after the town of Manchester, VT, the gateway to the Green Mountains.
The last cheese we tried was Rupert. Their biggest wheel of raw cow's milk cheese modeled on the Gruyere's and Comte's of the world, this one has its own special Vermont stamp on it! It has a nice bite to it with a great creamy and nutty finish....aged for at least six months, the longer it ages the more interesting and dynamic it gets thats for sure! Named after one of the oldest towns in Vermont, settled in 1761. A definite crowd pleaser of a cheese -- good for kids, adults, amateur and advanced cheese lovers alike. It somehow manages to walk the fine line of being a dressed up yet approachable cheese all at once. I plan on using for my Thanksgiving cheese plate and I guarantee it will be a hit!
I love the fact that each of Consider Bardwell's cheeses are connected by name to an aspect of Vermont specific geography --  this is a farm that is truly rooted in its place in the world and proud of it and why wouldn't they be, right?

Overall, a really fun and engaging class and a great window into the inner workings of Consider Bardwell Farm.

In case you're interested in reading more about the farm, Angela Miller and other things cheese,  pick up Angela Miller's new book: "Hay Fever: How Chasing a Dream on a Vermont Farm Changed My Life" with Ralph Gardner, Jr.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day Two Eighty - Cab Franc Results

Which New York state cheese won the opportunity to be paired with our Cab Franc this week?

Let's first immediately get to who did not win this week...Contestant Number # 2! Salvatore Brooklyn's Smoky Ricotta although delish, creamy, with that velvety melt in your mouth feel will overwhelm the delicate nuances of the wine -- this is a pairing where it will become ALL about the smoky characteristics of the cheese. You need a bigger drink partner for such a bold cheese -- perhaps a scotch? Something with wood-y undertones to tame the smoky beast. That being said, it is a friendly and fantastic beast just not right with a glass of Cab Franc unfortunately.

So where does that leave us? It is a duel between Mecox Bay's Sunrise and Cooperstown Cheese's Toma Celena!!! Who will have the better chance to win the heart of a glass of Cab Franc this week?

Well folks, it is actually almost a tie for a variety of reasons, you ready for them? And to be very honest, it depends on your taste buds...each will coax out hidden moments in the Cab Franc. So go ahead and try both and let me know your preference, but before you do, let me give you my impression...

The Sunrise will bring to life the earthy and vegetal notes found in a Cab Franc allowing them to sing. It's stinky washed rind creaminess will ideally offset the smoky tobacco flavors to create a lovely flavor melody but should the sunrise be too stinky, it will almost reach the point of overwhelming the wine, which you definitely don't want. That being said, it will be a decent match but a better match for the Sunrise would be a nice IPA or a fuller bodied red wine as this is a big cheese.

Moving onto the Toma Celena whose firmness is a nice opposite to the smooth silkiness of the wine. The buttery, caramelly, nuttiness of the cheese will be an excellent counterpart to the red fruit-y, plum-y notes of the wine and will provide an interesting and if you ask me successful marriage with the oakiness of the wine. Sometimes a bold wine needs a less bold cheese to level it out and I think that in a way that is what the Toma Celena succeeds at doing where as the Sunrise will pit boldness with boldness -- nothing wrong there, just a different taste and flavor explosion, it depends on your preference for wine and cheese pairing.

Enjoy your local wines and cheeses and support your farmers, it helps stimulate the local economy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day Two Seventy Nine - Long Island Cabernet Franc Marriage Mondays

Having just come back from the North Fork, I thought I'd feature one of Long Island's most prominent grape varietals this week in Marriage Mondays -- Cabernet Franc. Why is Cabernet Franc so widely planted on Long Island? That's because it is a cold weather grape -- able to sustain the North Eastern winters...

But how about a few facts about Long Island wines first?

The first vineyard on Long Island was planted in 1973 and the first winery opened its doors in 1975. Now there are over sixty on the North Fork, in the Hamptons and in Suffolk county. Over 500,000 cases of wine are produced just in Long Island yearly, of those, a decent percentage are Cabernet Franc wines or blends utilizing Cab Franc grapes.

According to recent studies, it has been determined that Cabernet Franc is one of the parent varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, however they are very different grapes and surely produce different wines. Cabernet Franc grapes ripen earlier and have thinner skins with a significantly less amount of acidity present than in Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. So what sort tasting notes typically characterize a Cabernet Franc versus a Cabernet Sauvignon? Cabernet Francs tend to be more floral, smoky, oaky, vanilla-y, fruity, and herbaceous with a twist of something vegetal and earthy, occasionally with a spiciness on the nose. Cab Francs are obviously lighter in color due to the thinness of their skins...

Got a good idea of what Cab Francs are like now? Shall we get to these week's cheese contestants?

Contestant Number # 1: Mecox Bay Dairy's Sunrise - Washed rind cow's milk cheese hailing from Bridgehampton. Sunrise is aptly named for its orange-hued rind that is developed from its aging ranging anywhere from two to four months. Stinky yet creamy, barnyardy yet smooth, almost even a little caramelly, this cheese is a fantastic melange of flavors. But does it have the flavors to go with our Cab Franc this week?

Image courtesy of

Contestant Number # 2 : Salvatore Brooklyn's Smokey Ricotta - Our second contestant hails from the great borough of Brooklyn. Fresh, lactic, creamy and all around scrumptious is our second contestant! This version is home smoked and boy do you get the nuances of the woodiness paired hand in hand with the light bounciness of homemade fresh whole milk ricotta. Will the smokiness of the ricotta work with the smoky nose of the wine?

Contestant Number # 3 : Cooperstown Cheese Company's Toma Celena - Our last and final contestant hails from right near the home of the baseball hall of fame -- Americana to the fullest! Our cheese is an American interpretation of a classic cow's milk Italian table cheese -- firm, buttery, and delish! Toma Celena has notes of apple and honeysuckle with a grainy, caramelly, nuttiness to it. Down right crave-able is this cheese, great for beginning and advanced cheeselovers alike. Does it have what it takes to tango with our Cab Franc?

Image courtesy of

So folks, which New York State cheese will have the chance to meet its match with the Cab Franc? Stay tuned to find out tomorrow!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day Two Seventy Eight - Dinner at the Jamesport Manor Inn & The Village Cheese Shop, Mattituck

After a day of wine tasting, a nice meal is certainly key, isn't it?

Last night for dinner on our little overnight trip to the North Fork, we dined at the Jamesport Manor Inn -- a quaint homey New England style space offering New American cuisine with a Mediterranean flair. The Jamesport Manor Inn was rebuilt after a disastrous fire in 2005 destroyed the old structure which dated back to approximately 1750.

What was immediately great about the place was the fact that almost their entire wine list was local, offering a selection of wines that we had potentially tried earlier that day or today even. They did have a three course prix fixe at $24.95 -- a great deal.  That however seemed like too much food to me...So I started with their poached pear blue cheese endive caramelized pecan micro green salad -- a delish, crisp, fresh, sweet, tangy, and savory approach to a classic salad pairing. You could tell that all of the ingredients did not travel a long distance  to arrive at your plate -- a trait I always like in a restaurant. My significant other / dining companion had a butternut squash risotto Peconic bay scallop preparation that looked gorgeous.

Next up came our main courses...however you could tell that something went a little wrong in the kitchen, maybe they just got overwhelmed with tickets but food took a little longer to arrive at your plate and certain items were just slightly off...that being said, my second appetizer/entree dish was delish! It was a wild mushroom toast with whipped goat's cheese and a chive vinaigrette -- a simple yet earthy dish. I like the fact that the chef kept things paired down here, it let the mushrooms and the whipped goat's cheese sing. My significant other's dish however lacked a sense of cohesion -- bass, lobster, corn, peas, and large slivers of purple potatoes which were a little burned, not seasoned very well and certainly oversized for the dish. That being said, the fish and lobster were cooked well, it just didn't seem like the accompaniments were right for the spotlighting the fish.

Overall, the food was good, my appetizer was spectacular and the setting was warm -- a nice way to end a day of wine tasting...

Moving along to one more little morsel of North Fork exploration-- The Village Cheese Shop on Love Lane in Mattituck, NY. This store capitalizes on all of the people coming out to the North Fork for wine tasting, it's the place to go for cheese if you're in the area. It has a large International section, the classic cheeses that everyone knows and loves but definitely a small choice of local/American cheeses in comparison, something I think they should focus on. Wouldn't you want to eat artisanal American cheeses with your local Long Island wines? Yes I think so! That being said, The Village Cheese Shop has an impressive choice for its location and is definitely worth a visit if you are looking for some cheese, crackers, and bread to go with your wine from the local wineries.

The Village Cheese Shop
105 Love Lane
Mattituck, NY

All in all a great excursion out of Manhattan on a gorgeous autumnal weekend with fantastic weather, beautiful foliage, yummy wines, scrumptious cheeses, and great company.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day Two Seventy Seven - An Excursion to the North Fork

Today I took a trip out of the hussle and bussle of Manhattan to the North Fork of Long Island, home to the East Coast's largest concentration of wineries and for someone who loves local wines and cheeses, a must visit!!

Among the six vineyards we visited (Roanaoke, Palmer, Martha Clara, Lieb, McCall, and Pindar) was a special cheese discovery...yes the majority of the wineries had a cheese option with their wines but nothing quite like Palmer which offered a selection of Goot Essa (good food or good eating in German) cheeses. Goot Essa is made by a cooperative Pennsylvania Amish farmers. They make a variety of cheeses that are offered in 4 ounce blocks to pair with your Palmer wines. Of the cheeses on offer, I tried three and the word I would utilize to describe all of them is honest. You could tell that the people who make the cheese are about staying local and keeping simple. My favorite of the three cheeses was their aged cow's milk Swiss style natural rind cheese -- stinky, creamy, firm and all around satisying. But as the kind woman at Palmer informed me -- people who are drinking aren't interested in this cheese, it's a little too intellectual for the average amateur wine taster. But I loved it.

Classic, basic and most importantly honest is goot essa cheese but it sure is good and if you are wine tasting along Sound Ave in the North Fork, stop into Palmer and have some cheese and their sparkling wine made in the champagnoise style and fabulous for this region.

A worthwhile visit not just for the cheese made by Amish farmers but for their yumtastic bubbly....

Stay tuned for more North Fork tips and spots to visit!

Day Two Seventy Six - Cranberry GCF

Top of the morning folks! Sorry this post is a bit late but better late than never right?

Getting excited for Thanksgiving? Can you believe it's less than two weeks away? I can't! So I thought for this week we would do an ode to the cranberry GCF.

What's the best way to do that? Well creameries like Lynnhaven make a chevre infused with cranberries and oranges but that's too much if you ask me. Here, you want a simple fresh Valencay, not aged to it's fullest so it's got that classic lactic tang but with a bit of the funky mustiness that one gets with an aged Valencay.

I think that store bought cranberry sauce tends to be super sweet so if you have the time to reduce cranberries yourself on the stove with water, sea salt and honey over low heat that's best but I get you might not have the time so exercise your own judgment call here -- go with what's best for you!

Now you've got Valencay and cranberry, what else do you need?

Bread of course, I'd utilize a nice crunchy multigrain bread here! On either side of the bread drizzle a little bit of wildflower honey and then top with a nice slice of Valencay. Next up a few leaves of basil for that herbal twist! Top with cranberry and some roasted walnuts and toast away! You will have a fantastic medley of sweetness, savory, fruitiness, cheesy tang, a hint of green herbaceousness with a crunchy finish! Good for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day Two Seventy Five - Cheese Spotlight - Sea Hive Cheese

Cheese from Utah? Yes mam! Yes sir! Beehive Cheese Company it is! One of only a handful of creameries in Utah, Beehive is run by two brothers in law who gave up the daily grind of software and real estate for a quieter life of cheesemaking.

Located in Uintah, Utah, Beehive is most well known for their Barely Buzzed case you are blanking what Barely Buzzed is; it is their cow's milk cheese that has been rubbed with coffee and lavender. Beehive doesn't just make Barely Buzzed though, their cheese repetoire includes a selection of nine different cheeses and I thought I would focus today on their newest cheese -- Sea Hive!

Utah is unique for its four season ecosystem and high desert and Sea Hive is Beehive's attempt to capture Utah's specific terroir into a cheese...What is Sea Hive then?

As Beehive states its a true expression of "..the land of salt and honey."

It is a cow's milk cheese that has been hand rubbed with local wildflower honey and Redmond RealSalt which is sourced from an ancient sea bed near the creamery. The salt has a faint colorful hue to it due to the fifty trace minerals in the sea bed. Local milk, local honey, local salt, a truly local product! Sweet, salty, tangy, floral, creamy, somewhat firm, buttery, and all around fantastic, this is a cheese that is a must try.

Image courtesy of

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day Two Seventy Four - Fondue @ Swizz

For a city offering such a plethora of dining options, it surprises me that there are so few fondue restaurants around town and even fewer that take bookings...weird right?

Last night I met up with a group of friends for dinner at Swizz, a Swiss restaurant located in Hell's Kitchen featuring a selection of fondues -- cheese, broth, and chocolate, along with traditional Raclette style cheese and salads, appetizers, and entrees. But we came for the big pots of melted cheese! Always a fun group dinner on these cold autumnal and wintery nights.

What did we have?

We split their traditional fondue -- a mixture of Gruyere and Emmenthal cheeses and their Provencal which had herbs included in the melted pot of cheesy goodness. These were accompanied by cubed pieces of bread, along with apples, broccoli, and sauteed mushrooms per our request.

I found the traditional Fondue somewhat simple and plain but enjoyed their Provencal quite a bit, perfect for a chilly fall evening of catch up with girlfriends! The non fondue options seemed decent, we all split a few Greek Salads were equally delish, but I think this is a restaurant that's about their melted cheese.

A fun place to go to enjoy fondue which is hard not to enjoy right? But the atmosphere lacks energy, I think it could be a great place with a little jazzing up! That being said, if you want a melted cheese fix or want a cute date place or a good place to get together with girlfriends, this is a good locale.

310 West 53rd Street
NYC, NY 10019
Image courtesy of

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day Two Seventy Three - Pumpkin Results

So folks was this week's Marriage Mondays easy for you? Did you figure out who won the chance to be paired with our pumpkin?

Contestant Number #1: Fleur du Maquis - What a fantastic cheese this is! Isn't it? Well unfortunately it misses the boat when being paired with the delicately nuanced pumpkin today, why you may ask? The cheese will overwhelm the pumpkin when the two flavor profiles are placed next to one another that's for sure! That being said, this would be somewhat like an oil and water sort of relationship, they simply do not mix. Floral, herbaceous, oozy, and completely creamy and unctuous is this cheese that when paired with the round earthy warmth of the pumpkin, neither of the two would bring about hidden nuances in the other. Fleur du Maquis is great on its own with some baguette and a nice glass of wine, it is actually a pretty versatile cheese for wine pairing surprisingly enough.

Now is where it gets tough because both the second and third contestants could work for completely different reasons, so lets examine each direction...

Contestant Number # 2: Mimolette - Orange could in fact work with orange here, how you may ask right? Well Mimolette being such a firm dense cheese with butterscotchy and caramelly notes, it could be the perfect grating cheese when paired with roasted sugar or pie pumpkins. The mixture of the sweet notes of the cheese will bring out the warm earthiness of the pumpkin and allow it to shine. This is such a simple easy preparation but it sure hits the spot with a nice glass of red wine.

How to prepare the roasted sugar pumpkins?

Chop up the pumpkins into small squares and toss with EVOO, shallots, sage, nutmeg, some salt and pepper. Roast at 275 for about forty minutes and then pull out and grate Mimolette over the top and sprinkle some chopped up chives to finish it off! Straightforward, autumnal and delish!

Contestant Number # 3: Gorgonzola Mascarpone Torta - Yes this is that perfect balance of sweet and savory and actually when baked into a pumpkin walnut bread would be a fantastic hidden blue cheesy creamy oomph. However, this sort of cheese could not really work with pumpkin in other formats because of the creamy texture it would overwhelm the pumpkin.  Sometimes the mixture of cream plus cream masks the specific nuances of each element.

How to make the pumpkin walnut bread?

One can of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup of chopped up roasted walnuts
2 full eggs & 2 egg whites
1 cup of pastry flour
1 cup of gluten free flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
sea salt
1/2 lb of gorgonzola mascarpone torta
1 cup of buttermilk
1/2 cup of water
Maple Syrup
Drizzle of honey
Dusting of brown sugar for the top

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Combine all dry ingredients into one bowl and all wet ingredients into another bowl and then slowly whisk together.
3. Spray Pam Cooking Spray or coat with olive oil or something of the sort so that the bread loaf pan is well greased.
4. Pour mixture into loaf pan and place in the oven for between 20 and 25 minutes. Pull out when golden brown and cooked through.

Enjoy this with a nice warm beverage on a cold Fall evening.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Day Two Seventy Two - Pumpkin Marriage Mondays

With the leaves turning golden oranges, yellows, and reds and the air getting chillier, I thought what's perfect for a Marriage Mondays this time of year? Pumpkins of course! Featured traditionally carved into jack o'lanterns for Halloween or pureed and utilized as in the interior for pies at Thanksgiving -- pumpkins are quintessential Fall if you ask me.

So what cheese could pair with pumpkin?

I'm not thinking here in the pie category but in the savory yet sweet vein... stay tuned for the winning recipe tomorrow...

Contestant Number # 1: Fleur du Maquis - When Americans think Corsican cheese, they tend to think of Fleur du Maquis (Flower of the Maquis). What is maquis? It's a Corsican term for underbrush greenery that was so thick and unmanageable that robbers and fighters could hide successfully within it. That being said, our first contestant is not prickly and overly tangled with greenery. A semi soft sheep's milk cheese whose exterior is covered and crusted with rosemary, fennel seeds, juniper berries and some bird's eye chiles. I know that sounds like quite the intense flavor explosion in your mouth, fret not, it is the perfect marriage of intense and subtle flavors paired with the creamy unctuousness of the sheep's milk interior. Will this herb-tastic first contestant win our pumpkin's heart this week?

Contestant Number # 2: Mimolette - Our second contestant surely has that orange hue of the pumpkin down pat, however it resembles a cantaloupe from the outside. This aged cow's milk cheese hailing from Lille, France, gains its orange color from annatto, a natural dye. And its crater-y, craggly exterior? Well that comes from the cheese mites that help the aging process. Modeled on a Dutch style Edam cheese, this sure is far superior -- more decadent, florally fragrant, caramelly, butterscotchy, and all around crumbly. Will orange win out for time with our orange star this week?

Contestant Number # 3 : Gorgonzola Mascarpone Torta - Our last and final contestant is Italian decadence in a mouthful -- layers of spicy punchy gorgonzola mixed with the fresh creamy sweetness of mascarpone -- a fantastic combo of sweetness and savoriness, great for amateur blue cheese eaters, but all around delish. Soft and supple -- it melts in your mouth in the most fantastic of ways but will it meld with our pumpkin this week?

That's all for now folks... Stay tuned for results tomorrow.

Day Two Seventy One - Albeit a bit late...Of bucket lists and other philosophical things...

Yesterday, I checked off a bucket list item for me...running the ING NYC marathon. Yes, I had run a marathon before, but there is something so different about spending four hours outside at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island dressed in a mixture of old clothing and trash bags before you start running a marathon with 43,000 other people and then once you start running, having the opportunity to run through the five boroughs of the city I call home.

Was it an easy race for me? No. Did I finish? Yes. In the time I wanted? No. Am I glad I did it? Yes. Would I do it again? Maybe, but there are so many fantastic races all around the world that I might be interested in is too short to only run in the city I live in. That being said, it sure is quite an amazing feeling being part of such a large international group of superstar people. Life sure is too short not enjoy the little moments of greatness from a nice morsel of cheese, a great sip of wine, a beautiful painting, running 26.2 miles -- you name it,  it's about doing those things that make you YOU.

So I ask of you all in my waxing philosophical mode here, to stop and think about those things that make you smile and make sure to do more of them. Have a bite of that yummy cheese and a sip of that wine or go out and run ten miles just for fun...

Thank you to everyone who made yesterday's feat possible, now onto the next race and the next challenge.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day Two Seventy - Trader Joe's tries to do French cheese...

And actually succeeds pretty decently.

The other day, I decided to try Trader Joe's Buche -- a soft ripened goat's milk cheese log modeled on the great French goat cheeses like Bucheron.  The Trader Joe's version at $4.99 for a small 6 to 8 ounce log was fantastic -- with a bloomy exterior and a nice chalky tangy goaty interior wrapped in the traditional straw manner was delish...wasn't exactly similar but a great second runner up!

Unfortunately I didn't snap a picture of it, but if you go to the cheese section at Trader Joe's and ask hopefully they too will be in the know...

It's worth a shot, you might be surprised at how much you like it! Have it with a nice glass of Sancerre and some crusty bread and transport yourself mentally to the Loire Vallery in France.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day Two Sixty Nine - Grana Padano GCF

Why Grana Padano this week? Well because the northern Italian cheese is a proud sponsor of the ING NYC Marathon that I am running in this Sunday. I know you are probably thinking a cheese a sponsor of a marathon? What? Well, there is that infamous pasta dinner that feeds 15,000 runners the night before the race, that might have something to do with it. Grana Padano is lower in fat than a majority cheeses and dairy and cheese are key in ones diet, even a runner's diet.

So I thought why not do a GCF in honor of the cheese sponsor of the marathon?

Before we get to this week's GCF, let me go over the basic differences between Grana Padano and its more well-known cousin - Parmigiano-Reggiano. Many people simply think that Grana Padano is Parmigiano's cheaper sibling and that my friends is incorrect. Both cheeses were originally made by monks and are produced in large wheels in the north of Italy and are available for sale at different lengths of aging. However Grana Padano is made solely with skimmed milk where as Parmigiano is made with a mixture of whole and skimmed milk making Parmigiano more nutty and salty than Grana Padano. The different locales that the cheeses are produced also impacts their difference in flavor profile, because the cows do not eat the same grass obviously in the entire northern region of Italy. Why then is Grana Padano cheaper? Well that's because it can be produced in five different regions in the north of Italy where as Parmigiano can only be produced in five different towns.

So now that we understand the difference between the two cheeses, shall we get to our GCF.

Grab some Middle Eastern flatbread, found at Fairway and other supermarkets, its fluffier and more flavorful than a pita with a lightness to it. Now I recommend grabbing some za'atar (a Middle Eastern spice mixture that is delectable) and mixing with some evoo and toasting the bread in the oven brushed with that combo.   It will jazz up our Grana and turn it from an Italian snacking and grating cheese into this week's star! What else does this sandwich need? Well, how about the key ingredient in most pasta sauces? Tomatoes! What would Grana be without tomatoes? To prepare your tomatoes for this sandwich, oven roast at 350 degrees in thin slices with EVOO, herbes de Provence, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, and some fresh Basil. Roast till the tomatoes get golden brown and absorb all their juices. Next up this sandwich needs some balsamic glazed portobello mushrooms. The mushrooms are simple -- saute over low heat with aged balsamic, soy sauce, evoo, madeira, and shallots. Brown them and pop them in the mix with your oven roasted tomatoes, grana and middle eastern flatbread.  It will be a delight I guarantee!

So folks, next time you are deciding between Parmigiano and Grana, choose Grana for something different!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day Two Sixty Eight - Spotlight - Vacherin Mont D'Or - A Fall & Winter Delight!

Vacherin Mont D'Or is one of those spectacular winter cheeses! A pasteurized washed rind cow's milk cheese made in Switzerland, this creamy unctuous specimen is a delight for the tongue. Only available for purchase from September 10th through May 10th, it is made yearly from August 15th through March 15th and is then aged for six months before sale.

What makes this cheese so special?

Well of course the unique flavor and aromas but also the fact that the cheese is encased in a spruce bark box which adds to those tastes and smells... The cheese has that classic orange-y tint of a washed rind cheese but the wooden mould that helps to aid and shape it causes the cheese to have a mixture of a white-ish orange-ish exterior.

This is decadence at its best -- sweet, luscious, creamy, a little bit stinky, mushroomy, and barnyardy, with that woodsy warmth from the spruce bark. A must try for those late fall and winter get-togethers with friends!

Vacherin Mont D'Or has a strikingly similar cousin across the border into France -- Vacherin du Haut-Doubs which is pretty much made in the same manner except for the fact that raw milk is utilized in this cheese's production as opposed to the Swiss pasteurized version...just in case you were curious..

You can definitely find Vacherin Mont D'Or here in the US, its French cousin less so...but go out and grab a round of the Swiss version, I guarantee you will be in cheese heaven.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day Two Sixty Seven - Fast, Easy, Fresh Meals for One...

You know those weeks where you say to yourself, gosh I just can't get sick because of one reason or another? Well that happened to me this week, I guess this drastic temperature change caught up with me; definitely not ideal since I'm running the NYC marathon on Sunday. Running 26.2 miles feeling less than excellent is not my plan and therefore for the second evening in a row, I've canceled my plans and will go home to make myself a home cooked meal and crawl into bed with my dog before 8pm so I can maximize on sleep and minimize on the length of this bug.

As many of you know from reading my previous musings, scrambled egg whites are a favorite comfort food of mine and therefore they will be featured in today's I decided to do my own take on Green Eggs obviously minus the Ham...

What's going to make these eggs green?

My Kale Scramble!

Why Kale?

It is one of the healthiest veggies around, packed full of health benefits, truly important when one is feeling somewhat sub-par. Although its health benefits have previously been discussed, why not revisit them, in case you don't remember:

It's high in:

Vitamin A
Vitamin C
Vitamin K
Dietary Fiber
Vitamin B6
and a bunch of other vitamins and minerals.

Apart from being good for you, I think it tastes delish when prepared in the manner in which I am going to suggest -- satisfying, filling, delish, and savory yet sweet. For me, it's perfect when paired with a simple egg white omelette.

Shall I give my omelette recipe first since it goes below your Kale Scramble?

Here goes:

3 egg whites
Fresh Rosemary
Crushed Red Pepper
Black Pepper
Crumbled Chevre with Honey (Found at Trader Joe's or as Cana de Cabra infused with Honey at Fairway)

Place some cooking spray or olive oil into a pan, let it heat up. Then place your already whipped egg whites into the pan. Top with rosemary, black and red pepper, and salt and cook over low heat. Just as you see the sides rolling up, crumble some chevre with honey over the top. Cook for another three to four minutes and pull off. Why chevre with honey you might be wondering? Well that's because of the healing benefits of honey, of course :)

And now onto the Kale Scramble:

1/2 bunch of kale
1/4 cup of golden raisins
1/4 cup of roasted slivered almonds
1/3 diced up shallot
A few dollops of Fresh Ricotta Cheese
Himalayan Sea Salt
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Throw the shallot into a large saute pan with some Evoo first and let the shallot cook for about four minutes over low heat. Chop up kale into smaller pieces rather than full leaves. Place this in the pan, with the almonds and raisin and some Himalayan Sea Salt. Cover and cook over low to medium heat to let all of the flavors meld together. The raisins will sweeten the inherent bitterness of the kale and the almonds will provide a fantastic crunch. About one minute before you think the kale is done, pull the cover off the pan and place a few dollops of ricotta on the kale and sprinkle some crushed red pepper flakes over the top, good to cleanse those sinuses. Pull off your kale scramble and place it on top of your simple egg white omelette and enjoy with a nice cup of tea.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day Two Sixty Six - Epoisses Results

How funny is it that the week I decide to do an Epoisses Marriage Mondays, Artisanal Cheese's online store sends out an email about a fifteen percent discount on stinky cheese...coincidence?

I like to think that great cheese minds think alike...on that note, lets get right to our results, there won't be a recipe provided today because to be quite honest, Epoisses is best served with crusty French bread. It sure is one of those cheeses that assumes the spotlight and rightfully so. Move over food pairings, this is a cheese that is all about the right beverage.

Lets first get to the contestant that simply doesn't work -- Contestant Number 3, Sauternes. Although delish, a nice glass of this dessert wine has such a weight to it due to the residual sugars present that it will weigh down the Epoisses, not what you want that's for sure! Earthy, stinky and barnyardy are simply not meant to go with sweet and syrupy. Each is fantastic on their own but has too much of a commandeering presence to work hand in hand.

Moving onto Contestant Number 2, Red Bordeaux. This is a tricky match, because in all reality, this could work, stinky cheese with a big red wine, the fruitiness of the wine would complement the barnyardy yeastiness of the cheese. Each is full in body and flavor and results in a pairing where each is somewhat similar to the other -- riding along side by side but not necessarily interacting to their fullest. The ideal red wine for that purpose is a Red Burgundy -- obviously due to terroir, the cheese is made in the same region as the wine and each with its distinctive nuances plays wonderfully off the other for a late Fall pairing. But because red burgundy wasn't an option, that leads me to believe that Contestant Number One took the prize this week!

Pinot Blanc did in fact take the prize this week as the unusual pairing option for Epoisses -- it's semi-sweet floral and fruity characteristics are the perfect counterpart to the pungent washed rind-ness of the Epoisses -- the wine will lighten up the cheese a bit and will bring out hidden flavor moments that say pairing a Red Burgundy won't. Why you may ask? Well because this my friends is a case where opposites attract in terms of body and flavor. It is an important lesson to remember when pairing wines and cheeses.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day Two Sixty Five - Epoisses Marriage Mondays

Washed rind cheese at its finest is what I have in store for this week's Marriage Mondays -- stinky, pungent, biting, and all around fantastic, even Napoleon was rumored to love this round disk of cow's milk cheese. Its scent even has to be constrained by the wooden box it is housed in.  Washed in lightly salted water and then left to ripen for a month; it is then washed with Marc de Bourgogne, a French brandy. Ooey-gooey is this cheese that's for sure. It's full of barnyardy, farmy, and even meaty flavors with the sensationally salty unctuously creamy paste that coats every crevice of your mouth while enjoying this AOC recognized cheese. 

Curious why it has such an odor? 

That's due to the B Linens which is a bacteria that develops in the humid moist climate where the cheese is aged. On top of lending the cheese's characteristic odor, these B linens also turn the cheese its classic orange-y color.

image courtesy of Artisanal cheese

So what are we pairing this stinker with today? 

I thought I'd take three different wine options, not specific wines though, so as to leave one's options somewhat more open when trying this pairing. 

Contestant Number # 1: Pinot Blanc - A traditionally light to medium bodied white with a roundness of flavor. They tend to have a semi sweetness to them with minimal floral notes, almost even a hint of fruity nuttiness.  Traditionally not an overly complex varietal, always reliable and delish. Why not go with the standby of off-dry, fruity goodness well-liked by one and all for our Epoisses today? Maybe a nice glass of Pinot Blanc will tame the beast?

Contestant Number # 2: Red Bordeaux - Go big or go home is a good phrase to characterize our second contestant. Full of flavor and body traditionally are red wines from the Bordeaux region of France, they do not go silently into the night. Notes of red fruit are paired with a silky smoothness on the mouth and a solid finish, if one had to generalize. But these aren't wines you want to generalize -- nuanced, unique, and well developed, that's for sure. This certainly is an opportunity to take a cheese with a commandeering presence and place it with a wine that has a similar presence, will it be a match made in heaven?

Contestant Number # 3: Sauternes - French dessert wine, yum! Made from a mixture of Semillion, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have been affected by noble rot, where the grapes become slightly raisined and therefore more intensely concentrated. Sugary, syrupy sweet but in all the right ways, a small glass of this final contestant goes a long way. Full of sunny apricot, golden raisin, honey, and peach notes with an inherent warmth and body, it brings a smile to one's face. But does our sweet one have what it takes to tango with the Epoisses?

Stay tuned!

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