Friday, December 31, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Twenty Five - A New Year's GCF

"Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind ? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne ? " Will you be singing the classic words of the New Year's Eve tune originally a Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 while cheers-ing with good friends and family this evening to ring in 2011? A new decade and a new start!

So I thought for tonight's New Year's Eve GCF you would want something decadent, heavy on the creamy notes, with a fabulous round mouth feel -- good at the end of the night or even good with a glass of bubbly to ring in the New Year. 

What cheese would fit the bill here? 

How about Nettle Meadow's Kunik? Hailing from the Southern Adirondacks, in Thurman New York, this is 75% goat's milk and 25% cow's milk bloomy rind disk of unctuous milky goodness. A triple cream style cheese -- easily spreadable and moist with a nice citrusy tang to cut the creamy weight of the cheese -- supremely fabulous!

Why not put the Kunik on a nice crusty French baguette with some chopped chives and a traditional New Year's food in Spain, grapes. At the stroke of midnight in Spain, revelers eat twelve grapes for each of the strokes of the clock. Each grape also represents one month in the new year. So let's have some Spanish luck this year with twelve grapes in our GCF. 

Toast away and enjoy with a glass of your favorite bubbly!
Happy New Year!
All the best wishes for a happy and healthy 2011!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Twenty Four - A preview and a spotlight

Tomorrow my good friend is having a Southern New Year's feast and so I thought for cheeses, I'd try to do all cheeses from south of the Mason Dixon line, a tough challenge at this time of year and this far North. Travel a few hours south by car and your selection would be much greater of cheeses from the Carolinas, Maryland, Virginia, etc but their offerings from Massachusetts, Maine, and Connecticut would be much less.

As a preview of tomorrow evening's cheese plate, I thought I'd focus on a fabulous creamery, Meadow Creek Dairy located in the mountains in Virginia at an elevation of 2800ft. Meadow Creek has been hand crafting cheeses since 1980 and boy have they got it right! They are a seasonal grazing dairy --obviously being so high up in the mountains, it would be tough to allow their cows outside in the dead of winter. Therefore they milk their eighty cows from March to December. But fret not, that does not mean you cannot purchase Meadow Creek cheeses year round, there is always at least one of their cheeses available at all times of year, it varies depending on season because of the differences in aging processes.

Meadow Creek's most well known cheese is a washed rind stinker inspired by the Italian Taleggio, Grayson. Dialed up stink is present in the Grayson as it is aged for longer than its inspiration. A true example of the depth and breadth of the successful experimentation of American artisanal cheese making.  Best with full bodied or even late harvest wines.

Appalachian was the first cheese produced by Meadow Creek, modeled on a classic French tomme. This cooked, pressed curd cheese is a crowd pleasing and very versatile creamy morsel of goodness. Buttery yet with a light crisp citrus finish, great with nice light white wines.

And their final cheese, the Mountaineer is modeled on the French and Swiss Great Big Guys. By that I mean -- Beaufort, Gruyere, Comte, etc...Aged for at least six months, this firm cheese is nutty, caramelly, butterscotchy, and all around fabulous! Great for this time of year melted into a fondue, enjoyed with a nice beer or glass of red wine, it's a perfect winter cheese.

So which of Meadow Creek's superstars do you think I chose for tomorrow's New Year's feast?

Image Courtesy of

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Twenty Three - An Impromptu mid-week GCF

This morning I decided after a nice run to make a simple yet delish breakfast, a perfect lazy morning sort of treat. Quick and easy today after a long preparation yesterday...

Yesterday afternoon while doing some work from my apartment, I decided that I would use up some old cherries and make a confiture out of them. By that I mean I basically boiled them down for hours with some water, a little bit of white port since I didn't have any brandy, two tablespoons of brown sugar and a little sea salt. Cooked over low heat for about three hours, you could savory yet sweet confiture perfect for this morning's breakfast.

How to showcase the confiture?

How about on a whole wheat cinnamon raisin English muffin with some Gorgonzola Piccante? Fruit forward and somewhat sweet with the nice spicy bite of the cheese on the backdrop of a flavorful yet light English muffin. A great breakfast for relaxing staycation morning or a weekend brunch treat!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Twenty Two - Snow Day Results

Life began to resume somewhat as normal today -- mass transportation was still slow but people were able to get to where they needed to go, albeit with a little bit of patience and perseverance.

Upon returning home to your cozy homes, what cheese did you decide to have from yesterday's contestants?

You want something warming that will complement a nice pint of dark ale or a glass of red wine, right?

Well that rules out our third contestant, the wasabi disk which albeit will awaken your senses, will not pair well with a warming cocktail. Westfield's Wasabi begs for a glass of crisp white wine with a nice acidic finish or even a glass of cloudy sake perhaps? Therefore that leaves us in a head to head duel between Cowgirl Creamery's Red Hawk and the Harpersfield with Ommegang.

Is washed rind stink what you crave after a long day outside in the cold? Not if you ask me, it's extra special pungency albeit fantastic in the right situations, is not my go-to recommendation for a cheese to have as an accompaniment to a warming beverage to make you feel cozy. Red Hawk is a special occasion cheese and definitely not a cheese for the novice -- it is nuanced, dynamic, unique, stinky, and all around fabulous. A nice cheese to cuddle up next to the fire with a significant other and a bottle of wine with for those of you who like that extra-special washed rind gooey-ness. Yum!

Therefore I'd probably choose the Harpersfield as the overall winner -- it is the ultimate in winter versatility -- it pairs perfectly with a nice glass of beer, cider, or mulled wine and can be served in slices with nuts and dried fruit and heated as the center of a GCF. Nutty, citrusy, light yet woodsy, and full of beer-ish notes with a nice creamy finish. A well rounded dynamic cheese that meets its match in any winter cocktail.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Twenty One - Snow Day Marriage Mondays

Central Park got twenty inches of snow in the past twenty four hours -- most major NYC airports were closed for most of the day, mass transportation was barely functioning on a Sunday schedule, restaurants and banks were largely closed, no mail was delivered...On days like these, I think Manhattan feels like a small town -- runners say hello to one another in the park, people are generally more open and friendly, and everyone comes together at their local movie theatres. 

So what sort of cheese would you want to have after a day out in the freezing cold sledding in Central Park, ice skating in Bryant Park, shoveling snow, or pretty much any sort of activity in this weather?

Contestant Number # 1: Cowgirl Creamery's Red Hawk - This cow's milk washed rind stinker hails from Marin County in California and is oozy and gooey in all the right sort of ways. It almost makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, the perfect way to get feeling back into your body after a long afternoon gallivanting in the snowy wonderland outside. Right?

Image Courtesy of

Contestant Number # 2: Harpersfield Cheese washed with Ommegang Abbey Ale - Moving back to the North East for our second contestant and specifically to Upstate New York, Harpersfield is made in the Tilist style of cheese making. It is cow's milk cheese aged and washed for the first two months to develop an uneven rind full of little holes which insulates the creamy, buttery, semi-soft cheese on the interior.  Add some Ommegang to those cheese washes and you get a light fanciful citrus nuanced cheese with hints of beer. What could be better than beer and cheese after a day spent outdoors in the cold? 

Image courtesy of

Contestant Number # 3: Westfield Farm's Wasabi Disk -- Goat cheese plus that Japanese spicy green paste traditionally found accompanying sushi? Really? Yes, that is our last and final contestant hailing from Massachusetts. Fresh, young, lactic, tangy chevre is mixed with the sensory awakening wasabi paste finished off with a little bit of herbaceous-ness in the form of chives. Feeling like a snow colored nice spicy wake up when you return home into the warmth of your apartment?

Stay warm and cozy folks!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Twenty - Brunch at Cafe Frida

It's our first snowstorm of the season here in New York and isn't snow the prettiest just as it falls to the ground? Otherwise it gets grey and gross. What are you doing to celebrate the snow? Are you home cuddled under covers near a fire with a significant other? Out gallivanting in Central Park? Going to the movies or a museum maybe? Or taking care of those chores around the house that you always put off? Or something else?

After a lovely run in the park, pre-snow, I went for a casual local brunch with a friend to Cafe Frida. I don't know about you but I much prefer going out to brunch when the dishes served are unique and have their own spin on classic brunch food. 

Cafe Frida is one of those Upper West Side institutions that flies under the radar. It is good Mexican food with an authentic feel. I find a lot of Mexican food to be greasy and this is not which is always nice. 

I had their Omelet Oaxaqueno which was a spinach, wild mushrooms, and oaxaca cheese omelet topped with their homemade salsa verde and served with hand-made flour tortillas and spiced home fries. 
A nice savory mixture of eggs, vegetables, cheese, and spices on the backdrop of their homemade flour tortilla, a filling and satisfying brunch.

Wondering what oaxaca cheese is? It's a Mexican cow's milk cheese somewhat similar in taste to un-aged Monterey Jack but made in a Mozzarella or pasta filata manner, meaning a stretched curd style cheese. In this case, the curds are stretched and formed into a ball which can then be sliced. You tend to find Oaxaca cheese utilized in quesadilla preparations. 

Enjoy the snow folks!!

Cafe Frida
368 Columbus Avenue

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Nineteen - A Cheese for a Christmas Lunch

Guess what I brought for today's Christmas lunch?

You guessed it! Cheese!

As my family tends to prefer the nuances of goat's milk cheeses, I decided to get us a cheese that we hadn't had yet. I chose a mixed milk cheese -- goat and cow's milk formed into a small bloomy round and entitled a Pearl. The Pearl is handcrafted by Seal Cove farm in Lamoine, Maine, on the way to Bar Harbor and Arcadia National Park. Seal Cove has been handcrafting French style chevre on American soil since 1976. Each cheese is infused with the fresh sea air from the rocky cliffs of Maine and the crisp green grassy notes of the pastures where their goat's graze.

Pearl is decadent yet light, a round mouth feel with the citrusy tang of a great goat's milk cheese. Perfect for a holiday celebration with a glass of bubbly.

Image courtesy of

Day Three Hundred and Eighteen : An Hors D'oeuvre GCF

Merry Christmas to all of my faithful readers and your families and loved ones. Here's to a happy and healthy one! I apologize yesterday's blog is a bit late, but I am catching up this Christmas morning. I decided to take one of the cheeses I bought for a Christmas Eve dinner last night and make a GCF out of it today.

Landaff hails from its namesake town in New Hampshire and is an aged raw cow's milk cheese made in a traditional Welsh cheese aging process. Semi-firm with a natural cave aged rind full of bright citrus notes with a nice full barnyardy farmy finish, light yet with a presence -- a crowd pleasing cheese, great for a cheese plate or for cooking with.

Image courtesy of

So what to do with our fabulous New Hampshire cheese? 

How about making an hors d'oeuvre for a holiday get-together? Grab a nice Pullman bread top with slices of Landaff, some dandelion greens, diced up grilled asparagus, and a little bit of EVOO with some sea salt. Toast away so that the creamy Landaff will be offset by the vegetal notes of the asparagus and the fresh citrusy moments of the dandelion greens. A well balanced hors d'oeuvre GCF, just cut these into small squares and serve with a nice glass of mineral forward white wine. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Seventeen - Water Buffalo Milk Cheeses...

Most people think of cheese as being produced strictly from goat, cow, and sheep milk, but that's not the case, there are other animals whose milk lends itself to cheese, namely the water buffalo.

What's the most famous cheese that is made with water buffalo milk?

That's easy! Mozzarella!

What makes water buffalo milk different from cow's milk? Well it's richer and higher in protein, producing close to one and half times as much cheese as cow's milk. Also interesting is that the milk of water buffaloes lacks the beta carotene that is present in cow's milk which makes cow's milk yellow, where as buffalo milk is bright white. A lot of buffalo milk cheese is produced in Italy as it is believed water buffalo came over from Asia in about the 7th century...

Today I thought I'd give you a few examples of cheeses apart from mozzarella made with buffalo milk:

Blu di Bufala - A funky, stinky, punky pasteurized buffalo milk blue cheese from the Lombardia region of Italy. Truly unique in terms of blue cheeses, this guy dials everything up a notch in all the right sort of ways. Rich and decadent, it begs to be enjoyed with a glass of Moscato d'Asti.

Quadrello di Bufala - Think washed rind Taleggio style cheese but made with the rich creamy water buffalo milk. Dialed up washed rink stink with a buttery mouth feel! You cannot go wrong here. Enjoy with a nice glass of medium bodied red.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Sixteen - A Warm Kale Salad Dinner for a Celebratory Girl's Night-in

Last night I had my best friend over for girls night -- some bubbly, dinner, and a chick flick and I thought I'd share with you all the Warm Kale Salad I made for us. A little prep work, but nothing too much, once everything is in your saute pan, you can just let it cook and monitor the flavors melding together. A one pot meal full of veggies, tofu, herbs, and cheese.

1 shallot (chopped up)
Medium amount of Kale leaves chopped down
1/2 cup of shelled edamame
1 cup of broccoli florets
1/2 block of light firm tofu diced up
EVOO (of course, how could I cook without it?!)
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Fresh Rosemary
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Small drizzle of White cooking wine
Crushed Red Pepper
Shavings of Pecorino Pepato for that creamy yet spicy punch to be added just a few minutes before the meal is done.

The directions here are easy, chop everything up, throw in a pan, cover. Cook over low heat for about fifteen minutes, add cheese and cook for another five. If you are in the holiday celebratory mood like we were last night, enjoy with a glass of Cava. We had the Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava that was voted a Value Brand of the year by Wine & Spirits magazine. At $6.99 a bottle at Acker, Merrall, and Condit wine shop on 72nd street, that's a pretty good deal if you ask me. Full of vanilla notes with a nice acidity balance, hints of toasty-ness and a little hazelnut, overall a great bargain for an easy drinking holiday bubbly!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Fifteen : Endive Results

Who won out in our race for the chance to be paired with this week's bitter green of choice?

It certainly wasn't contestant number one, the Ossau Iraty Vielle. Why you may ask did such a crowd pleasing cheese not find the ability to please our Belgian endive this week? That's because there is no sense of cohesion here -- it's pretty much like two known quantities passing each other on the street but not finding any common ground to be able to coax out each other's nuances. Ossau Iraty Vielle is meant to be enjoyed with rustic and warming veggies or with nuts and dried fruits. Its not the best salad cheese -- good with cooked foods. It sure is a fantastic cheese though!

Nor was it our third and stinky contestant, Morbier. This is a case of oil and water -- the mixture of the washed rind stink and the nuttiness of the cheese will clash with the bitter fresh crispness of the Belgian Endive -- not an ideal match! Morbier is not the easiest combination/mixing cheese, best sandwiched between two pieces of crusty bread with a glass of off dry or fruity white wine.

That obviously means that our second contestant, that fabulous mixture of triple cream, Brie style cheese and Italian Gorgonzola won out this week! Why? Because the spicy piquant-ness will offset the crisp freshness of our endive while the creamy round mouth feel will cut the bitterness quotient of the Endive. So how to serve it? Why not make a dip?

1/2 lb of Cambozola
1/2 lb of Ricotta
Cinnamon Roasted Pears
Black Pepper
Sea Salt
Sauteed Shallots and rosemary

I know that sounds like quite the weird mixture of ingredients, sweet and savory all rolled into one but I guarantee it will be a success.

Grab three pears and cut into small slices, top with some EVOO, a bit of honey, some cinnamon, sea salt and a few sprigs of rosemary. Place in the oven at 300 till golden brown or about eighteen to twenty minutes. While your pears are roasting, saute one chopped up shallot and a few sprigs of rosemary with some EVOO. In a food processor, combine Cambozola, Ricotta, EVOO, sauteed shallots, black pepper, and sea salt. Now take a bunch of leaves of Endive and place a nice helping of your dip in each and then top with one sliver of roasted pear. Enjoy with an off-dry white wine!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Fourteen : Endive Marriage Mondays

Endive in its most well known form, Belgian Endive, is one of those greens you either love or hate. It is part of the chicory family that also includes other bitter greens such as radicchio. However endive itself is the umbrella term for a few different types -- curly endive otherwise known as frisee lettuce and broad leaved endive otherwise known as escarole which is the least bitter of the endive family. All are high in vitamins and nutrients especially folate and vitamins A and K.

In season at this time of year (late fall / early winter), I thought Belgian endive would be the perfect Marriage Mondays contestant this week. Bitter, crisp, bright, and fresh, one tends to find endive utilized as an instrument for dips or chopped up in salads. But what cheese works best with this bitter contender?!

Contestant Number # 1 : Ossau-Iraty Vielle - The classic unpasteurized sheep's milk cheese hailing from the Pyrenees in southwestern France is semi-firm and traditionally aged for about ten months, give or take. The older / more aged version is up for competition this week -- full of rich buttery unctuous notes with that classic crystallization crunch and hints of nutty butterscotch-ness. Does this crowd-pleaser of a cheese have what it takes to take the bitterness of our endive down a notch?

Contestant Number # 2 : Cambozola - What happens when you mix a French triple cream like a Brie and the spicy piquant Italian Gorgonzola? Well you get cambozola of course! It's got that rich coat the roof of your mouth sort of feel of a Brie with that nice spicy wake up of your senses of a Gorgonzola. Will this successful flavor marriage be as much as a success with our endive?

Contestant Number # 3 : Morbier - A washed rind stinker with an ash line dividing the cheese in two named after the town in France where it was first crafted. Originally it was one layer of morning milk and one of evening milk separated by the ashen layer which was said to preserve the evening milk before the morning milk was added. Nowadays it is crafted with the same milk and keeps its vegetable ash dividing line for tradition. Semi-soft and a great melting cheese, it is sufficiently stinky in that washed rind sort of feel but with a nice nuttiness and a fantastically round mouth feel. Will our stinker win out this week?

I apologize that there are no images in today's post, something seems to be wrong with the uploading server, all of today's images will appear in tomorrow's blog.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Thirteen : Laurier Spotlight

While having a glass of Prosecco with brunch this afternoon, I got to thinking about an ideal cheese to pair with this Italian bubbly and I came up with Laurier. Artisanal Cheese here in Manhattan and accessible to all of you nationwide and worldwide via crafts their own soft ripened goat's milk cheese that was developed with the cheese maker from Vermont Butter and Cheese, Adeline Druart. I always think its nice to see when a retail, aging, and educational outlet takes on the task of creating cheeses made exactly to their specifications. 

This melt in your mouth cheese tends to come in hockey puck style rounds topped with hand selected bay leaves. The bay leaves impart a fantastically wonderful herbaceous-ness into the classic lactic tang of this goat cheese. Full of layers of unique flavor, this is a cheese that keeps on going after your first bite -- it unfolds and opens into something unexpectedly fantastic on the finish. Worth a try, especially with a glass of Holiday bubbly!

Image Courtesy of

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Twelve : A white bean dip for a Winter Saturday

Today, the city was abuzz with people doing last minute Christmas shopping, full of energy and life and good cheer! After a busy day out and about, I decided to make a little bit of homemade white bean dip to have with some of my soy multigrain rice crackers. Simple, satisfying, and nutritious. Perfect with a nice light glass of red wine.

I used Rancho Gordo Flageolet Beans, heirloom beans from California that resemble the traditional cannellini beans but are whitish / greenish and remain somewhat crunchy and crisp yet with a creamy interior, great fuel for a creamy dip.

So let's get to this dip!

2 cups of Flageolet Beans
4 ounces of Crumbled Herbed Chevre
A tablespoon of tahini
A teaspoon of water
Clove of Garlic
A teaspoon of Dijon Mustard
Fresh Basil
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper

Blend it all together and serve with your favorite crackers, chips, crisps, or bread.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Day Three Hundred Eleven : Keeping it Simple GCF

Sometimes we all want something simple that does not involve a lot of prep work, that is easy and accessible and super delish. At this time of year where everyone is in overdrive at the office and busy with holiday parties, I decided let's suggest something simple that can be ready in ten minutes or less but is not cut short in terms of taste and still maintains a sense of holiday festivity!

Grab a nice crusty baguette and a hunk of Truffle Tremor. Truffle Tremor is Cypress Grove's aged goat's milk cheese that is infused with black truffle. The citrusy, lactic, brightness of the goat's milk is offset nicely by the earthy, musky, rustic notes of the black truffle. What else do you need? Toss a few sliced baby bella mushrooms in a saute pan with some EVOO, a shallot, aged balsamic vinegar, a dollop of dijon mustard, sea salt, black pepper, and rosemary and cover. Cook for about five to seven minutes over medium heat or until the mushrooms are golden brown. Remove from the pan and place on top of the cheese on the baguette. Top these with a few sprigs of arugula and toast away. Decadent, earthy, flavorful, and elegant. Perfect with a nice glass of Pinot Noir.

Enjoy your weekend folks!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Ten : Lunch at BiCE yesterday

Yesterday I met a friend for lunch at BiCE, one of those midtown power lunch spots, jammed to the gills at 12:30 with men in suits and ties and women in heels. Straight-forward Italian fare was on offer, pricey but the portion size tried to make up for it. All their pasta is made in house and they have some lovely foccacia to offer as you wait. A nice selection of salads, pastas, meats, vegetables, and more -- it was quite the extensive menu, giving you plenty to choose from.

My dining companion and I split a contorni, a side dish of grilled polenta with sauteed mushrooms and parmesan. Polenta, in case you aren't aware, is a corn meal based dish that is extremely popular in Northern Italy, warming, comforting, and quite satisfying. A traditional pairing for polenta but done very well -- earthy, nutty, flavorful, and woodsy, the perfect dish for a cold December day with a glass of red wine.

I forgot quite how much I loved polenta, it is so versatile and a great substitute for pasta. I'll have to make some soon and provide you all with a delish recipe.

Apart from the polenta, I had their tuna tartar with capers, red onion, avocado, micro greens, and a citrusy dressing. Delish, straightforward and fresh!

Overall, a good meal, nothing super out of the ordinary, but simple Italian food done well. If you need a midtown spot for a power lunch and aren't concerned terribly about the bill, this is a good option.

7 East 54th Street

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Nine : Zingerman's

For any foodie visiting Ann Arbor, Zingerman's is a must visit! Zingerman's is a spectacular community of food related businesses -- a delicatessen, a creamery, a bakeshop, a coffee company and shop, a candy manfactory, catering, and their roadhouse (restaurant). Each of their businesses is customer service driven and strives to have the best and the most hand crafted produce and the most knowledgeable staff and really be a culinary mecca in Ann Arbor. Boy do they succeed! I visited the delicatessen and the coffee shop and each had such warm friendly feel to them -- completely different from their equivalents here in NYC. As much as I wish that there was such an establishment here, I think it would loose the same sort of small-town, homemade, local feel which really makes it as special as it is.

I love the fact that they have their own creamery right in Ann Arbor and boy do they make some delish cheeses. They source their milk from two local dairies and make seventeen different cheeses and gelato. Their repetoire spans the gamut from harder aged cheeses down to bloomy rind goat's milk cheeses and cream cheeses and mozzarellas. Each cheese I tasted surely had its own particular Ann Arbor spin on it and really tasted lovingly handmade. Of course I had to bring some home, I could have easily brought home half of the products in the delicatessen but I decided that I would be back and each time, I could bring home one little treat!

I purchased their Bridgewater which is a mold ripened cow's milk cheese delicately infused with telicherry black pepper. Somewhat firm and paste-y with that lovely piquant oomph of the pepper and a nice clean citrus-y finish. An unusual sort of flavor profile for a cow's milk cheese, this was light and fanciful in a way that I tend to expect goat's cheeses to be!

If you can't visit Zingerman's, you can most certainly order from them online at, but if you are ever in Ann Arbor, please go check it out, it is a quirky wonderful jewel!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Eight : Results

Back in New York City where it is almost just as cold as Michigan, not quite, but definitely a close second I bring you this week's Marriage Mondays results. I know it might seem just as weird to you as it does to me to be discussing beets when its about 20 degrees outside. I tend to associate beets with summery sorts of events..why, I'm not sure, but I do.

As I've had quite the long day today, I think tonight's results will be quick...

Contestant Number #1: Saint-Andre - Our super duper creamster this week misses the boat with our beets, it simply will overwhelm the delicate vegetal nuances. This is a cheese case where a nice crusty piece of bread is the ideal pairing partner -- keep it simple is the name of the game with Saint-Andre.

Contestant Number # 2: Ewe's Blue - A great salad pairing partner for our beets as the piquant spiciness will be perfect with the vegetal sweetness of this week's root vegetable. But this is a pairing that we tend to see somewhat often, not nearly as often as goat's cheese and beets, but often enough...So I thought why not think out of the box! Therefore as we've deduced our third and final contestant, Ricotta takes home the prize this week.

Why not roast the beets with some chives, sea salt and EVOO to the point where they are golden brown and almost caramelized? Then top with some wilted garlic spinach and a dollop of whipped ricotta with EVOO, a drizzle of raw honey and chives echoing what the beets were roasted with? I guarantee it will be the perfect mixture of herbaceousness, creaminess, vegetal and green notes. A riff on a warm salad made by yours truly!

Try it, I think you'll enjoy it!

Stay tuned for a special report tomorrow, night folks!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Seven - Beet Marriage Mondays

Greetings dear Fromagical readers from the frozen tundra of Ann Arbor, Michigan where it is currently 9 degrees out, god knows what it is with the wind chill! I just returned from a lovely dinner at a little local place called Zola where I had their special burrata and roasted beets with balsamic vinaigrette salad and I thought gosh, I haven't done a beet marriage mondays yet!

We all can think of the traditional pairing with beets, can't we?

Ding, ding, Goat's cheese and beets! This week's marriage monday's will prove to you that is not the only pairing option for our dear root veggie, beets.

Contestant Number # 1: Saint-Andre - Decadence is the name of the game for our first contestant -- a triple cream hailing from Normandy. Think Brie but one hundred times as rich! This bloomy guy is dense, buttery, unctuous and simply all around creamy and fabulous! High in fat content yes, but is it high on our beets' list of pairing options?

Contestant Number # 2: Ewe's Blue - Old Chatham Shepherding company's one hundred percent sheep's milk blue is made in the Roquefort style and boy does it show you that New York State is on the blue cheese map -- spicy, piquant, biting, and fantastic! The perfect sort of mouth pucker with that nice round creamy finish, you cannot go wrong here. But is it the right choice for this week's contender?

Contestant Number # 3 : Ricotta - White, chalky, and young is our final contestant. A lovely by-product of cheese-making, ricotta is traditionally crafted from the left-over whey utilized to make cheese. Well known and loved the world over, it is found featured in everything from desserts to main dishes and more. But will it be found with our dear beets this week?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Six : Preview of Tuesday's Budget Wine and Cheese Class

Tuesday evening, I will be teaching a private class on how to entertain for the holidays on a budget -- wine and cheese pairings that won't break the bank. So I thought I'd share with you all my pairings I've been planning for Tuesday, maybe it will give you inspiration for your holiday gatherings.


A crisp refreshing and light white wine with hints of citrus, tropical fruit, and a grassy flinty finish. It’s simple, straightforward, easy drinking, and light on the wallet. Great with salads, seafood, and aged goat cheeses like La Buchette. La Buchette is Trader Joe’s version of the well-known aged bloomy rind Loire Valley goat cheese, Bucheron. This version comes in a smaller 4 ounce log, soft ripened and aged to perfection. Lactic, creamy and bright with that classic aged goat cheese citrus tang.  Think Sancerre and a Chevrot!



A big yellow smiley face on an otherwise completely black bottle, doesn’t that just make you happy looking at it? A nose full of red fruit, black cherries, plums, hints of leathery-ness and a nice light smoky finish. This is drier than most Syrahs you will find out there but at a much lower price point. Great with heavier pasta dishes, gamey meats, and stinky or blue cheeses. Here we’ve got two options – you can go with Trader Joe’s Tomme de Savoie, made here but in the traditional French style. Tomme de Savoie is a semi-firm cow’s milk cheese made in a tomme style, using the left over skimmed milk from the production of richer, more buttery cheeses. Barnyardy, gamey, and earthy is one route to go with the Project Happiness Syrah. The other route is a spicy, piquant, and classically creamy blue which will coax out the red berry and black cherry notes in the wine.



That classic Italian bubbly is less in your face full of bubbles than say a Champagne, but delicious in its own right – a great New Year’s Eve option. It’s full of apple and pear notes with a nice dryness that begs for an utterly decadent and creamy cheese, a brie or a triple cream is a great choice. Here I’ve chosen Trader Joe’s Goat Brie as it echoes the lightness in body of the Prosecco, yet it still has a nice creamy weight to it. Goat’s milk makes that classic Brie style cheese, grassy, citrusy, with hints of green apple. Available in small rounds -- great for hors d’oeuvres for a small holiday get-together with friends.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Five : Holiday Parties, champagne, toasts, and cheers!

Today seems to be a day full of holiday cheer! Inside and out, people were celebrating or preparing to celebrate!

This afternoon, I went to a seasonal champagne tasting and I sampled a variety of lovely Blanc de blancs, champagnes, blanc de noirs, proseccos, cavas, rose cavas and rose champagnes...the perfect tasting for someone who adores all things bubbly!

I got to thinking about the bubbly that was missing from today's tasting and I realized that was Lambrusco. Lambrusco hails from Italy and is both a grape and a frizzante or lightly bubbly red wine. Traditionally made in the charmat process which is when the second fermentation happens in pressurized tank. Lightly fruity, somewhat dry, and super bright, this is a great hors d'oeuvres sort of drink!

What could it go with?

How about something creamy like its fellow Italian, La Tur. A bloomy rind cheese that is a mixture of sheep, cow and goat's milk, it is decadent, creamy, and rich. Perfect for the light elegance of a glass of Lambrusco.

A great pairing idea for any and all holiday cocktail party!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Four : Roasted Chestnut GCF

As the days get colder and shorter here in Manhattan, one of the familiar scents wafting towards you on street corners is that comforting smell of roasted chestnuts. There's something warming and homey about it...So I thought on this cold Friday afternoon, why not warm up with a nice roasted chestnut GCF?

How do I roast chestnuts?

I go for the less labor intensive route and buy the already shelled version as chestnuts in their shells are a huge pain unless you've got the right equipment. I like to toss the chestnuts with some olive oil, sea salt, and rosemary and roast them at 300 degrees for between fifteen and twenty minutes. They will melt in your mouth...

While those chestnuts are roasting, grab a nice French baguette and top it with some young Manchego which is creamy, buttery, and rich. It is the quintessential melting cheese. Top that with a few crispy sage leaves and drizzle some nice olivey EVOO on one side of the baguette and toast away. What you will get is a hearty, earthy, creamy and herbaceous GCF that will warm you inside and out. Enjoy with a nice glass of mulled cider.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Three : Spotlight on Queso del Invierno

Heard of Vermont Shepherd cheese? It's a fabulous sheep's milk cheese from Vermont and is somewhat of a locavore cultish product -- only available for purchase from late August through the beginning of February, that is if you are one of the lucky ones. What happens if you're not?

Why not try Vermont Shepherd Farm's 2010 new release cheese known as Queso del Invierno meaning Winter Cheese and designed to delight the palate in the wintertime when there is no more Vermont Shepherd and no sheep's milk to craft more. Queso del Invierno is a 50/50 mixture of sheep and cow's milk which allows it to be produced year round. It is a natural rind raw milk cheese but it has some of those funky barnyardy notes of a classically washed rind cheese. It's aged to perfection for about four or five months. Somewhat salty with a nice buttery richness and a nice dosage of mushroomy and herbaceous notes -- Queso del Invierno is versatile and delish, good for the amateur and developed cheese lovers alike.

I think this a great example of cheesemakers adapting to make a product year round. Just as vegetables and fruits have seasons so does the milk utilized to make cheese. It's worth tasting, and I guaranteed it will definitely be a crowd pleaser! Serve with a nice beer or even a cider or a warming glass of red wine.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day Three Hundred and Two - A beginning dose of holiday season cheer

Today was the first day that I really started to feel that holiday season energy -- gift giving, party going, tree decorating, menorah lighting, carolling, baking, and all around seasonal cheer! I love the holiday season, I think it is such a joyful time of year and why not start celebrating that joy now!

I'm not the biggest fan of sweets but I've always had a special place in my heart for gingerbread cookies and gingerbread houses. I remember when I was young, my school had a fabulous gingerbread house each holiday season. So I thought why not provide you all with my favorite recipe for gingerbread cookies and an idea for a cheese pairing with it for today?

Gingerbread Cookies:

2 cups pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 full egg
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Dark Molasses
1/2 stick of Plugra European Style Butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground up cloves
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
2 teaspoons diced up crystallized ginger

Combine all the wet ingredients into one bowl and dry ingredients into another bowl, whisk each separately till each are combined fully. Now cover with some wax paper and chill in the fridge for at least three hours. The longer you chill the cookies, the easier time you will have cutting out shapes. Preheat oven to 350 dgerees. Roll out chilled dough on a flour coated surface and go to town cutting out your gingerbread men and women and whatever sort of shapes you want. Spray some Pam baking spray on a cookie sheet and place these guys in the oven for eight to twelve minutes or until they are golden brown. I guarantee they will be spicy and flavorful but not too too sweet.

So what sort of cheese would I pair with these cookies?

Westfield Capri - Hailing from Hubbardston, Massachusetts, this is a classically fantastic young pasteurized goat's milk cheese. Quintessentially fresh, full of citrusy, tangy, grassy, and milky lactic notes, it will be the perfect partner for a nice warm homemade gingerbread cookie.

What to drink?

How about a glass of mulled wine?

Enjoy folks!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day Three Hundred and One - Maple Smoky Results

It's that time again folks!

Results time!

So who won out for the opportunity to be paired with Taylor Farm's Maple Smoked Gouda this week?

Our dear Pilsner does not have the gumption or the weight to stand up to the Maple Smoked Gouda. Pilsners tend to be of the lighter, more dainty sort of beer when done right and therefore when you get a good pilsner, I recommend going with a semi soft sheep's milk cheese, something buttery, light on the butterscotch and caramel but still delicately delish.

The Ice Wine will surely miss the mark this week as it's syrupy sweetness will overwhelm and almost even clash with the creamy lightly smoky-ness of the cheese. This is a case where you have two fantastic items but they just do not go with one another. That being said, try a nice fresh goat's milk cheese with your ice wine, you want something young and fresh, full of bright citrusy notes to cut some of the sweetness of the wine.

Therefore our dear Tempranillo wins this week, why? It's medium to light body will find its equal counterpart in the Maple Smoked Gouda, deceivingly light with a heavy presence. The tobacco notes of the wine will find its friend in the maple smoked notes of the cheese forming a coherent harmony. The red berry and plum moments in the wine will find their match in the creamy milky nuances of the cheese -- somewhat similar yet opposite.

Have a nice glass of Tempranillo with this lovely Maple Smoked Gouda and some lovely oatcakes...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day Three Hundred - Maple Smoked Gouda Marriage Mondays

Happy 300th day to all of my devoted readers out there!

For this week's Marriage Mondays, I got inspired by Taylor Farm's Maple Smoked Gouda I tasted yesterday at Saxelby Cheese's booth at the New Amsterdam Market. Taylor Farm is located in Londonderry, Vermont and specializes in a wide range of goudas, jams, mustards, butters, and of course maple syrups. As Henry Tewsbury of Vermont Cheeses writes, "Even smoked Gouda from Holland does not compare with the excellence of this local product." An award winning cheese, this cheese is not harshly smoked or overwhelming, it has a mild creamy delicate-ness to it with a light smoky-ness. The cheese is crafted utilizing one hundred percent natural and sustainable farming practices and that sense of the local terroir really comes through in its taste. Smoked utilizing maple hardwood chips, this is a cheese that delights one and all.

Image courtesy of

So what to drink with this delightful Maple Smoked Gouda?

Contestant Number # 1: Pilsner - Dry, golden, somewhat bitter but with lovely floral notes, pilsners are the most popular beer style worldwide -- think that classic American beer -- Bud! Brewed at lower temperatures than ales so that the bottom fermenting yeasts present in these lager style beers can succeed, these guys can age should you feel the desire to. Will the most popular beer style work with our special Maple this week?

Contestant Number # 2: Tempranillo - Originally a Spanish black grape that traditionally finds itself in a variety of Rioja style wines but also speaks for itself in wines named for its grape varietal. Tempranillo comes from the Spanish word, temprano or early, because the grape ripens a few weeks before other Spanish red grapes...Tempranillo's are some of the most reliable red wines to drink at a young age if you ask me. Full of red berry, plum, vanilla, clove, tobacco, and herbaceous notes; these are smooth wines with a nice little bite. Will it be the right sort of bite for our Maple Smoked this week?

Contestant Number # 3: Ice Wine - Our last contestant is a dessert wine that's composed of grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. How you may ask? Well that's because the sugars and dissolved solids do not freeze but the water present in the grapes does, making way for higher residual sugar content and much more concentrated and viscous liquid. This is in stark difference from other dessert wines where the freezing does not happen before fermentation therefore making an ice wine super sweet yet with a nice touch of acidity. Will our sweetest contestant win out this week?

Stay tuned till tomorrow to find out!
Stay warm folks.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day Two Ninety Nine - Brr it's Cold Outside!

Gosh coming back to the winter temperatures here in NYC has been quite the shock to my system -- I went from 70 degree to 30 degree weather and promptly decided to visit the outdoor New Amsterdam Market for their focus on New York state wines this week. As you all know I love local products -- cheeses, wines, breads, vegetables, fruits and more -- I think it's important to support our local farmers and lessen the commute from food production to consumption, it gives back to the local economy and reduces the amount of chemicals necessary to maintain and preserve the produce.

What I loved especially about the wineries this week was the fact that there was a large concentration of Hudson Valley and Finger Lakes wineries that tend not to have such a presence at events here in Manhattan -- therefore I had the opportunity to learn quite a bit about new New York State wines, always fun!

With a nice crisp Sauvignon Blanc like the one from Palmer Vineyard on the North Fork, I recommend purchasing the Narragansett Creamery Pirate Spread. Their Pirate Spread is composed of their homemade salty briny feta, some vegetal warmth with sundried tomatoes and some aromatic herbaceous notes in the form of rosemary and the spicy kick of cayenne. All around a great bite, flavorful, dynamic and exciting. This is perfect when spread on top of a slice of Orwasher's Bakery sesame wine bread. Spicy, salty, creamy and delish with the nice cushion of a fresh piece of bread underneath and the crisp citrus floral notes of the Sauvignon Blanc.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Day Two Ninety Eight - Blue Sea Sushi @ The Delano - Sushi & Cheese? Corrected!

Whoops blogging on one's iPhone sometimes causes some issues, it seems my post got published before I wrote it, so sorry folks!

Last night as a tradition, I went to the fun, super delish and fresh sushi bar located in the lobby of the Delano Hotel on 17th and Collins. One of the best sushi joints around if you ask me...

So what did we have that allows me to discuss it here?

We started with two of their salads - their 7 seaweed salad with honey soy dressing and sesame soy drizzle gorgeously organized on three homemade sesame crisps and their green salad with cucumbers, daikon, and Ginger dressing. Each salad was full of crisp, vegetal, and flavorful nuances -- the sort of salad that you wish you could make just as fabulously at home.

Then we split three of their sushi rolls :

First up, their Vegetable roll which was composed of: Asparagus, cucumber and scallion topped with roasted red peppers, avocado and truffle oil. This vegetable roll was sensuous, luscious and sure did melt in your mouth.

Next up, their kinoko roll which was composed of Japanese Mushrooms wrapped in white soy topped with crispy enokis and truffle oil. Each morsel was earthy, rustic, and delish!

Lastly we split their yakuza roll which was composed of Boursin cheese, BBQ eel, avocado, spicy masago and topped with Eel sauce drizzle. This was the ultimate mixture of delish ingredients designed to delight one's tastebuds. Creamy yet vegetal, with a sumptuous mouth feel. The true example of fish and cheese working together.

We finished the meal with their homemade key lime pie.

All in all, truly inventive and unique sushi with fresh ingredients and fun people watching. Go for the food, but enjoy the scene!

Blue Sea
The Delano Hotel
1685 Collins Ave

Friday, December 3, 2010

Day Two Ninety Seven - Sunny Latin GCF in honor of our trip to Miami

For lunch today, I went to a great little tapas joint in the Design District here in Miami called the Martinez and there I got inspired for a Spanish-y Latin GCF in honor of this sunny city I'm currently writing to you all from. So let's get going!

Grab some nice crunchy baguette and top each side with some blood orange marmalade, you can find a nice selection of marmalade at any whole foods or a fairway. You want that super citrus punch here! Top that with the great Spanish goat cheese, Queso de Murcia. A semi-firm goats milk cheese that is rubbed with red wine on the exterior giving the cheese a fruity side with a clean milky lactic center. Well rounded and delish. Top the cheese with sone of those classic Spanish almonds for a nice salty punch - Marconas and toast away. Enjoy with a nice glass of cava.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day Two Ninety Six - Cecconis at the Soho Beach House

The Soho Beach House down here in Miami is one of those it places to be while down here for Art Basel. It's restaurant, Cecconis is the heart and soul of the place, boasting simple classic Italian food, you can't go wrong with anything you order that's for sure. Gorgeously designed, it feels classic and modern with an old fashioned golden Hollywood era twist.

The menu is a lovely mix of thin crust pizzas, homemade pastas, fresh salads, mains, and more. My favorite thing on the menu was the beet and burrata salad-- fresh, sensuous, luscious, creamy, and delish -- a nice take on a traditional caprese salad, this one dressed up for Miami however. Also delish was their traditional pizza with tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella and basil.

All around everything is fresh and lovingly handmade without being over complicated. Go for the decor, the people watching and the simple yet fantastic food.

Soho Beach House
4385 Collins Ave

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Day Two Ninety Five - Miami Dispatch Day One: The Cheese Course

Today after taking a look at a few of the art fairs populating the city of Miami this week for Art Basel Miami Beach week, I discovered a completely unexpected place nestled in the new high rises and contemporary constructions that make up the Design District and Midtown Miami -- The Cheese Course. Not just your regular retail cheese store, the Cheese Course has over one hundred and fifty American and International cheeses, wines, crackers and other accompaniments along with cheese literature and serveware; and even a small cafe with salads, sandwiches, cheese flights and more -- a dream come true for any cheese lover.

The cheese selection highlighted the big name worldwide great cheeses, providing something for everyone and in a city with not that many cheese purveyors, the Cheese Course definitely stands alone. The food menu had a simple selection of salads and sandwiches. Their Greek salad which I had was fresh, crisp, aromatic and delish with creamy briny feta.
Their cheese flight selection looked designed to be informative, educational, and interesting, focusing on pairing regional cheeses and cheeses of like minded styles.

The Cheese Course
3451 NE 1st Avenue

Day Two Ninety-Four : Caper Results, a day late..

Sorry for my day of absence folks, we traveled down to Miami for work yesterday and the day simply got away from me...but fret not, we're catching up!

It's time for those caper results!

Contestant Number #1 : Humboldt Fog - Although this is one of my favorite cheeses, it's not necessarily one of our dear caper bud's chosen few. Why? Well this is somewhat of an oil and water sort of case -- the creamy, lactic, citrus vegetal cheese will not succeed in calming the salty, brininess of the capers. Each in it's own way great but together there is no sense of a potentially successful relationship -- two different entities functioning on their own, not for a common cause.

Contestant Number #3 : Beaufort - The Alpine king is so fantastic but it's rich buttery nuttiness isn't the perfect fit for our salty friends this week. It's a potential match, even a decent one but there is no huge sense of opposition or difference here, each has moments of similarity but in their moments of difference there is no real sense of one element coaxing out the nuances in the other. Therefore by deduction our second contestant, Gorgonzola Dolce wins the prize this week. Why you may ask?

Contestant Number # 2 : Gorgonzola Dolce - An excellent choice - the salty sweetness of the cheese balances out the briny saltiness of the capers -- each has salty notes that find their partner in the other's nuances and the delicate sweetness of the blue cheese balances out what some may consider as overwhelming notes in the capers.

So how to serve these together?
How about in a fantastic spinach salad with roasted asparagus and caramelized shallots with a hint of lemon in your homemade vinagrette? The mixture of the sweetness that comes out of the shallots and the fabulously vegetal notes of the asparagus and spinach with the hint of citrusy brightness will be perfect with the creaminess of the cheese and the salty brininess of the capers.

Recipe is super simple to boot!

Take one bag of washed salad spinach and put it in a salad bowl with a half cup of crumbled gorgonzola dolce and a handful of chopped up capers. Place to the side. Grab about ten asparagus and place in a roasting dish with some EVOO, salt and pepper. Roast at 275 degrees for about ten minutes, depending on when they are tender. While roasting your asparagus, chop up finely one shallot and over low heat sauté with some EVOO till golden brown and caramelized. Combine all together. Then top with a small squueze of fresh lemon juice and your homemade vinaigrette - EVOO, white wine vinegar and sherry vinegar.

Enjoy with a nice light Sauvignon Blanc.

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