Thursday, January 21, 2010

Giving the gift of cheese!

It’s been another cheese and wine-filled week thanks to my brother bringing me cheese from his neighborhood cheese store, Marion Street Cheese Market, in Oak Park, IL. They were all out of Zingerman’s goat cheese (foiled again!) but instead brought me three great cheeses: Bucheron (France), Les Feres (Wisconsin), and my favorite, Ewephoria, a sheep’s milk gouda from the Netherlands. This one reminded me a little bit of Gruyere, a firmer cheese with a small kick to it.

On another high note, I also received two new cheese knives and a protector for your hand while you're cutting. Hmm...I now wonder if that was intentional?

Three days later, it was time for another Provisions food and wine pairing hosted by @STLWineGirl (http://www.stlwinegirl.com/UpcomingEvents.html) and this month's theme was "Winter Warm Up". The best part about Angie's classes is that I always learn a lot and she encourages a highly interactive class.
  • "Legs" on a wine are actually generated by the alcohol content and not necessarily an indication of quality.
  • White wines tend to turn more brownish as they age.
  • Old world wines are named by where they are from whereas new world wines are named by their grape.
  • And most importantly, don't wear white to a wine tasting but if you do, have "Wine Away" handy! (http://www.wineaway.com/)
1st Pairing:
Winter Salad with Goat Cheese "Fritters" and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
2006 Argyle Burt Sparkling Wine – Oregon $21.99

As with most wine classes, we started with bubbles and Angie said you really don't have to use tall flutes for sparkling wine. Flutes do cause the bubbles to release slower but then it's harder to smell. The likelihood of your champagne going flat while you drink it is pretty low.

The sparkling wine was mixed with a goat cheese "fritter" and I just don't think grease goes well with sparkling wines. Angie pointed out that while you have every right to eat French fries with champagne, it's probably not the best pairing! hehe

2nd Pairing:
Cajun Jambalaya with Crab Claws
2007 Treana Viognier/Marsanne - Central Coast, California $19.99

Chef Scott Phillips LOVES to cook Cajun food so the best serving was the Cajun Jambalaya with Crab Claw. It was paired with a wine that had some bite to it. Sometimes liked paired food and wine calm each other down but in this case, they both became too spicy.

3rd Pairing:
Traditional Coq au Vin
2007 JL Chave Crozes-Mermitage - Northern Rhone, France $24.99

The third pairing was a match of the milds: Tradition coq au vin, or chicken and dumplings, French-style. The wine served with it also had a smooth finish so neither overpowered each other.

4th Pairing:
Lamb and Root Vegetable Masala
2008 Gascon Malbec - Mendoza, Argentina $11.99

Malbecs are one of five grapes that are grown in the Bordeaux region and is usually paired with “gamey” meats. This was a good of example of sweet food and spicy wine pairing well together for a good balance.

5th Pairing:
Mexican Chocolate Pot de Creme
2003 Dr. Parce Rimage Banyuls - France1/2 bottle $33.99

The dark chocolate had a very thick consistency and was a little spicy with cayenne pepper mixed in. It was so rich, that it totally stood up to the bitter dessert wine. This was definitely the best pairing even though not my favorite flavors. In fact, the chocolate was SO rich, that I couldn’t even finish it!

Anyway, I consider this to be a good “warm up” for the next class…Angie has finally heard my begging and pleading and has created a cheese pairing class for me on Feb 2nd!

http://www.wineandcheeseplace.com/cart.php?target=category&category_id=32

She is going to serve the cheese plain and then cooked in a dish. Unfortunately, this means she will not be serving Epoisses (French for “the best cheese ever”) but I am still thrilled that she is using cheese. I hope to continue to bug her so that “the cheese class” will be a special event once a year!