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It’s wine snack Wednesday, and this is a simple, must-share little treat that went perfectly with our dry Riesling tasting. I know it’s fall and all, but heirloom tomatoes might be around a tiny bit longer; if you find some good ones, you will want to make this compote.

heirloom tomatoes

hungarian paprika

apple cider vinegar

It’s an incredibly easy “recipe” that starts by roasting tomatoes until wrinkly and fragrant. You’ll know when they are done, just by looking at them. Once your tomatoes are ready, use a food mill or even scissors to really pulverize them into a puree. Take your tomato blend and put it in a sauce pan on low, and while stirring, add in a couple of teaspoons of sugar. This recipe is not exact; it’s all about your taste. A lot of the recipes I perused prior to cooking called for SO much sugar, which I just didn’t want to use. Instead, I stirred in about three teaspoons while the tomato puree was slowly simmering on the stove. To that, I added a teaspoon of Hungarian paprika, a pinch of cinnamon and about 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar. I stirred it all together and let it simmer until it cooked down a bit.

roasted heirloom tomatoes

Once cool, I put in little jars to store. I didn’t jar these for long-term storage, but that is definitely something I would like to learn.

spiced tomato compote

This spicy sweet, and savory compote was nice with a little Saint Andre triple crème cheese and a couple of pours of Riesling. The spice of the compote was delightful with the fruit flavors in the wine, and the creaminess of the cheese went well with the acidity of the wine; the fat was cut a little by some of those zippy Riesling flavors.

Saint Andre cheese

I love cooking for wine pairing, and I especially love when I find something super simple that we can enjoy on a weeknight. We’re learning more and more to savor each and every day of our lives, and mid-week mini celebrations are a great way to do it.

How do you savor the everyday moments, especially those draining weekdays?

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Tags: cheese, heirloom tomatoes, recipe, tomatoes, wine, wine and food, wine and food pairing

What a weekend full of great food and wine! Saturday night we dined with friends at Barbara Lynch’s Menton, and Sunday we made the journey to Mohegan Sun for Sun Winefest. We were fortunate enough to receive trade passes as well as passes to a beer and cheese pairing with Smuttynose, and we thought the event was fantastic.

I hadn’t been to Mohegan Sun since an Aerosmith concert in college, so we were pretty excited about all of the stores, restaurants, and attractions all under one roof. It was definitely the place to be on a freezing cold Sunday afternoon!

First up was the Sun Winefest Grand Tasting. Trade hour is always the best as it’s not crowded and people pouring the wine have a real chance to talk with tasters. I was incredibly impressed at how organized Sun Winefest was as well as the amount of space between booths. Even when the masses arrived, it didn’t feel too crowded.

Mohegan Sun, Sun Winefest

One of my favorite things about events like this wine festival is discovering new wines and re-tasting old favorites. After Sun Winefest, I definitely have a list of must-adds to our wine collection.

J. Lohr Riesling

J. Lohr Riesling – beautiful, bright and citrusy with a mouth feel that reminded me of a Viognier. Despite the weather, I am loving white wine right now, and this one was a treat.

Anna Codorniu Lois Gruner Veltliner

Anna Codorniu Brut and Rose Cavas – I had my first taste of Anna Codorniu at Post 390’s Farm to Post dinner; I didn’t need to taste it again to know that I love it. It was fun to also taste the Brut and to learn that these delicious sparkling wines retail for around $12.00. There’s not excuse to save bubbly for special occasions!

Another wine I revisited was a Gruner Veltliner from Fred Loimer. I have loved his Lois for a long time; you really can not go wrong with Gruner.

Cannonball Merlot

We spent quite a bit of time at the Cannonball table. First drawn in by the label, which is adorable, as well as the fact that these wines are from my favorite place on earth, Healdsburg, we ended up falling in love with the wines as well. The Cannonball Merlot is heaven; lots of spice and dark berry flavors. People need to start drinking Merlot again, and Cannonball is a great place to start.

California Chardonnay

California definitely represented with some gorgeous Chardonnays like the above from Robledo and Sparrow Hawk. I love a hint of vanilla and butterscotch in Chardonnays, and both of these had the acidity to balance it all out.

In addition to the above, we tasted a few Italian wines we loved, including a bubbly, fun pink wine called Rosa Regale. I could picture myself sitting in the sun on a comfy lounge chair sipping a flute of it. We really enjoyed all of the wines at the Banfi Vintners table because they were great, but also because the representative pouring was so knowledgeable.

One of the highlights of the festival for me was meeting one of the winemakers from Gloria Ferrer, another favorite place of mine.

Gloria Ferrer

The Sun Winefest also features an extensive beer tasting on a separate floor from the wine. I loved the way the wine and beer were divided; I think it helped to thin out the crowds. I can’t say enough about this great event. One of our favorites was  a Kona Brewing Company coconut beer; it was rich, smooth and offered some delicious tropical flavors.

Longboard Beer

The real reason we were at Mohegan Sun was for a Smuttynose beer and cheese pairing at Todd English’s Tuscany.

Todd English Tuscany

cheese and beer pairing

Heading up the event were a dynamic duo with a great knowledge and passion for beer and beer pairings.  Ken from Pete & Gerry’s Organic Eggs is someone I met at a pizza and beer event last year, and he was joined by Smuttynose executive brewer, David Yarrington. The cheese pairings were brought to us by iGourmet.com, and they were absolutely amazing. We consumed a LOT of cheese at this event.

cheese and beer pairing

We went through each of the beers and paired them with a recommended cheese, but David also suggested we try all of the cheeses with each beer to decide on what worked and what didn’t. My thoughts? All of the cheeses went really well with all of the beers.

Here’s what we tasted:

Smuttynose Beer Cheese Pairing
ParadoX Pierre Robert Triple Crème Brie
IPA Quebec 7 year Vintage Cheddar
OBD Red Dragon Cheddar (with Welsh Brown Ale & Mustard Seed)
Gravitation Beemster X.O. Extra Double Aged Gouda
Zinneke Rogue River Blue by Rogue Creamery

Smuttynose brewer

ParadoX was a beer brewed especially for Sun Winefest. Since it was an IPA, I wasn’t sure I would like it, but rather than being too hoppy, it was fresh, aromatic, and balanced.

From Boston.com:

Yarrington brewed ParadoX, an aromatic, session IPA, with experimental hop 02120. He travels to Washington state yearly to hand-select his hops, and he chose this one because of it’s lemony qualities. With Citra hops being all the rage, brewers are constantly looking for something similar, and experimental hop 02120 — called the lemon drop hop — comes pretty close.

Overall, though, I have to say my favorite beer was the Zinneke, a nice dark beer that paired perfectly with Rogue River Blue. Old Brown Dog was another favorite, and true to suggestion, it went well with the Red Dragon Cheddar, which had a nice kick from mustard seeds. The most indulgent-tasting cheese of the afternoon, the Pierre Robert, was absolutely heavenly, soft, gooey, and amazing and truly tasted great with all of the Smuttynose beers, the beers cutting through some of the delectable butter fat, just as Champagne or sparkling wine would. The pairing actually reminded me a lot of pairing Champagne with food; beer is a pretty great beverage for pairing with food and I hope to pay a little more attention to this in the future.

smuttynose ipa

I have always enjoyed Smuttynose beers, and I can’t believe I have not visited their brewery for a tour and tasting. We’ve been wanting to spend a weekend in Portsmouth, and this might have given us the kick we needed!

Overall I would definitely recommend Sun Winefest’s Grand Tasting and the available seminars. When you go this route, you get the best of both worlds, a big, busy tasting, followed by a more educational, slower-paced tasting event.

Do you have a favorite wine/beer tasting event? As you likely know, mine is the Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival, but the Sun Winefest is definitely close!

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Tags: beer, cheese, cocktails, events, Travel, wine, wine tasting

Post 390 is one of those places I keep meaning to visit. I had dinner there when they very first opened and have been in for drinks, but every time I try to go in for dinner, they are completely packed. It turns out, there’s a very good reason for that.

Wednesday night I had the delicious opportunity to attend the kickoff dinner for Post 390’s latest Farm to Post series, this time around featuring 5Spoke Creamery, raw milk cheese makers from Goshen, New York.

As I always do, I arrived early, which gave me time to photograph the beautifully set table. An upstairs private room was set up for our group, and the table featured floral arrangements mixed with cheese. One of the arrangements was inside of a basket made of baguettes.

Post 390

While I took photos, I was offered a Provencal Gimlet, a refreshing cocktail made of fennel-infused vodka,thyme, basil, lime, and lavender syrup over ice. Wow.

The Post 390 cocktail menu is creative and exciting, and this Provencal Gimlet was absolutely delicious. I loved the hint of lavender along with the herbs.

Provencal Gimlet

Before we all sat down, introductions were made, and we snacked on some incredible appetizers made with 5Spoke cheeses. These included griddled Tumbleweed Cheese and Ham Salad “Tacos” and Redman Cheddar-Pecan Shortbread with Apple Butter. I definitely want to make a cheddar shortbread sometime soon; it was the perfect vehicle for apple butter!

The owners and cheese makers at 5Spoke, Alan and Barbara Glustoff are delightful, and they have quite the interesting backgrounds. Cheese has always been an interest and passion of Alan’s, but his background is in food science. Barbara has a background in advertising. Now that their children are in college, they’ve taken on this exciting new venture, renovating a farm outside of New York City for their 35 Holstein cows. The farm will include a farm museum along with their farmhouse, which is over 100 years old.

Once we were seated, we devoured several courses, all paired perfectly with wine.

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{Cauliflower and 5Spoke Heritage Cheese Soup, Brambly Farm Pork and Apple Croquette – paired with Godello, Rafael Palacios, Louro, Valdeorras Spain, 2011}

The soup was velvety and warm with the perfect hint of cheese flavor. The pork and apple went very nicely with it and added a hearty element to the soup course.

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{Roasted Monkfish, Foraged Mushroom-Talcott Gratin, Lobster Demi Glace – Paired with Chenin Blanc, Marc Bredif, Vouvray, Loire, France 2010}

I have been loving Vouvray since the Hooray for Vouvray panel I participated on, and Post 390 could not have chosen a better wine for the flaky yet meaty monkfish and rich gratin.

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{Rabbit and Welsh Cheddar Tamale, Ensalada de Pimientos – Paired with Brut Rose Cava, Anna de Codorniu, Spain NV}

First of all, we were served bubbly in the middle of the meal. What’s not to love? The crisp, light bubbles paired deliciously with the tamale and even better with the citrusy pepper salad. It was so fresh and perfect for refreshing the palate before the main course.

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{Herb Roasted Veal and Sweetbreads, Orecchiette with Broccoli and Crawford Cloth Bound Cheddar Cheese – Paired with Barbera d’Alba, Sottimano, Pairolero, Italy 2009}

Wow. There was so much going on in this dish, but it came together and was wrapped up with a nice little bow of Barbera. :) Orecchiette with the 5Spoke Crawford Cloth Bound Cheddar should be the new macaroni and cheese everywhere. Between that and the meat and the juices on my plate, my palate was in pure heaven. Talk about a perfect dish for a day that started with snow.

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{Welsh Cheddar Bavarian, Honey Apricots and Cinnamon Phyllo Crunch – Paired with Royal Tokaji, Mad Cuvee Late Harvest, Hungary, 2009}

I don’t know how we did it, but we even ate dessert. I adore desserts that incorporate cheese, and this one was simple and outstanding. I only wish I could have finished it. The team at Post 390 definitely deserved a round of applause for this meal.

This meal was definitely a treat, and I love what Post 390 is doing with its Farm to Post menus. The Post 390 team gets to see the highlighted ingredient/s right where they are produced and learn the stories of the producers, making a true farm-to-table relationship. The support for small farmers and producers is certainly evident in Post 390’s menu. In these times when, I think, small business can change our futures, it’s great to see a high-profile restaurant paying such attention to where their ingredients come from.

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Tags: Boston, cheese, cocktails, creamery, Dining out, dinner, events, farm to table, Post 390, wine, wine pairings

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