Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Guest Blog on Culture!

This winter I was lucky enough to be one of five bloggers chosen to be a guest blogger on the Culture blog... To see what I wrote, click here:

If you don't want to go to another website, you can read what I wrote about the Culture Winter Cheese Plate below...

I decided to take the purist approach when highlighting this winter cheese plate. There is nothing like finding a truly delicious pairing and seeing my guest’s eyes light up when they experience the “tasty explosion” that occurs.
Behold, the cheese plate…

We started off with the Comte.

Most of my guests had never had this amazing cheese before. They were pleased with the rich buttery taste and texture as well as the nutty and floral notes. There was some fun discussion on the tyrosine crystals that added the slight crunch to the paste. For the pairing I decided to stick with the French theme and chose a Vouvray. The high acidity yet slight sweetness of the Chenin Blanc grapes partnered with the creaminess of the cheese to create a flavor reminiscent of butter and honey. On a whim, I added a Zingerman Spiced Pecan to the mix and it blew my mind…

Next, the Great Lakes Cheshire.

While I had only ever had the English Cheshire, I was very pleased with this domestic version. The tatse is comparable to a bandage wrapped cheddar with its slightly salty yet earthy and grassy flavor with a “zing” at the end. My guests and I had fun talking about this “zing”. For the pairing, this cheese just begged for a beer. I chose to use the Rayon Vert from Green Flash Brewing, a Belgian-Style Pale Ale. This beer has a touch of sour from the Brettanomyces, is drier and super carbonated with a nice floral nose. The beer, when tasted with the cheese, mellowed out the bite at the end and really highlighted the richness of the milk used to make the cheese. This ended up being a couple of my guest’s favorite pairing of the night, including my sister who ended up polishing off the beer and the cheese J.

And to finish off the plate, the Bayley Hazen from Jasper Hill Farm – a personal favorite.

This cheese is phenomenal. It doesn’t have the intensity of a lot of the blue cheeses out in the market today. The mold lends a small bite but really takes a back seat to the other flavors in the paste. When I tasted it this time around I got a lot of butter, hazelnut and hints of salt. It is a little on the dry side, so when thinking about what to pair with it, my mind wandered to the sweeter libations. I have to give credit to my coworker and partner in crime, Jeannie, for helping me with this pairing. I was thinking about using a Moscato and she recommended the Saracco Moscato d’Asti and wow did she hit the ball out of the park. This wine was wonderfully sweet while not being syrupy and really balanced out the slight bite the mold gave the cheese. And because it was a “d’Asti” it had a little bit of effervescence which cut through the rich butter flavor of the paste. Out of all of the pairings, this was my favorite. Even my non-blue cheese loving guests appreciated this pairing. The flavor with the cheese and wine combined made me feel like I was enjoying a piece of salted caramel. Delicious!

Above you can see that no cheese was left behind in this tasting. Everyone really enjoyed the cheeses and pairings and I had to promise to hold another cheese tasting party in the near future. I hope that you all have the opportunity to enjoy delicious artisan cheeses with your friends and family in the near future.
Until then…

                                                                                                                   …my friends and I say “Salud”!