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Wine for Thought: An introduction to wine and cheese

July 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Wine and Cheese

In this week’s Cocktail Fodder “Wine for Thought,” I want to talk about pairing wine with cheese. Wine and cheese just makes sense together and have been enjoyed that way since the beginning of time. The Greeks were even known to grate cheese directly into their wine goblets! Blasphemy by today’s standards, but maybe they were onto something like they were with democracy. Anyway, if paired correctly, wine and cheese can enhance your overall food experience and allow you to better appreciate both. Discovering new tasting notes on a wine, by way of cheese, is quite the rewarding gastronomical experience.

A Caves Saint-Pierre Vacqueyras

I came into the shop yesterday and enjoyed an impromptu wine and cheese pairing with my co-worker Sarah. We chose a southern Côtes du Rhône from Vacqueyras that was 50% Grenache, 50% Syrah. After letting the wine aerate for some time, we took a sip and made our initial tasting notes: the nose was earthy and vegetal, while the palate exhibited a prominent yet balanced acidity with hints of ripe berries. Acidity is the chemical property (pH) in wine that makes your taste buds perk up and tickle. After the initial taste, I strolled over to Barnyard to pick up two cheeses to match up with the wine. Since the wine had a bright acidity, I decided that semi-soft cheeses were the order of the day. With pairing, you can either mirror or contrast the wine and cheese. In this instance, I chose to contrast. I went with a delicious French goat cheese called Bucherondin and a triple-crème-style cheese known as Pierre Robert. The Bucherondin was delicious with a crumbling claylike consistency and slight tangy flavor, while the Pierre Robert was creamier with an even more pronounced tanginess.

The Bucherondin succeeded in softening the wine’s acidity on the palate while allowing the fruit to come through. (Success!) The Pierre Robert was an interesting pairing with the Vacqueyras in that it seemed to prop up the acidity on the palate. I honestly think I came up short with the Pierre Robert pairing. Sarah and I were both craving soft cheeses — goat cheese in particular — so both cheeses allowed us to discover what worked and what didn’t. To add a wrinkle to the story, Sarah preferred the Pierre Robert over the Bucherondin with the wine. The moral of the story: to enjoy wine, there are no rules just guidelines.

Here is an informative website with general guidelines for pairing wine with cheese.

Sip on!

Goat Cheese & Mint Bruschetta: the best thing to happen to bread since it was sliced

July 14, 2010 Leave a comment

A delicious, easy summer bruschetta.

Hey there Cocktail Fodder readers! I went to my favorite East Village café, Paradiso, the other day for an iced coffee and ended up having bruschetta with goat cheese, caramelized onions and a side of olives. (I’m admittedly forgetting some of the other key ingredients but this should give you an idea of the goodness.) Once finished, I decided that I should post a recipe for both the bruschetta-lover and bruschetta uninitiated. Now, I’ve had bruschetta before in the past, but never really thought much of it until my recent encounter at Paradiso. I cannot think of a better light and flavorful dish to whip up this summer to impress your own taste buds as well as the others in your presence. Great as a summer appetizer, everyone should have a quick bruschetta recipe up their sleeve. (Kudos to Marisa and epicurious.com!) What’s that you say? You don’t have one? Well then, you’re in luck today!

How does crispy bruschetta with goat cheese, tomatoes and mint sound? Hopefully as good as it does to me.

**SIDE NOTE: Goat cheese is the perfect pairing with a rosé wine — I implore you to get a little goat cheese on your next grocery trip and stop by your local wine shop for a nice, dry rosé.**

Anyway, back to the recipe:

Ingredients:

12 1/2-inch-thick slices of Italian or French bread (Preferably, from about a 3-inch-diameter loaf.)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large garlic clove, halved

6 plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

4 ounces soft fresh goat cheese

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Find a baking sheet and put the bread slices on it. Use a brush and spread olive oil on both sides of the bread slices. Bake the bread until they reach a golden hue; about 6 minutes on both sides. Remove the bread and rub the halved garlics on them. Take the plum tomatoes and fresh lemon juice and combine them in a medium-sized bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste. Up the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the goat cheese over the toast and place the tomatoes on top, dividing equally between slices. Bake the bruschetta for another 8 minutes. Once done, place on a serving platter and garnish with the fresh mint.

Et voilá!

Quick hit wine recommendations: French Rosé, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and any Chenin Blanc.