Friday, July 30, 2010

Summertime means burgers!

I am very late on writing this blog post, which I really shouldn’t do because then I forget all the juicy details and flavors, but I wanted to get this done before August starts and it’s back to back classes again! Next week is Angela Ortmann’s (aka STLWineGirl) second cheese class at The Wine & Cheese Place ( in Clayton and then Provisions is hosting a “sushi and wine” class...another one of my favorite foods!

In honor of summertime, this Provisions' class theme was “Burgers” and for variety, each “burger” was a different kind of “meat”. I use that term loosely because we started off the class with a portabella mushroom and it was paried with a sparkling Vouvray from France. The best part was the cheese that was melted on top of the mushroom and it really helped to mellow out the wine, which had a mineral flavor to it.

The salmon burger was a large salmon patty but was actually a little bland. I expected something striking to be mixed in with the patty, but instead came with a creamy tarter-like sauce added on top. Maybe if I had a little more sauce? It was paired with an equally creamy Chardonnay. Angela then had us pour our wine into a plastic cup so we could taste the difference! There was really NO smell whatsoever and your hand warmed the plastic much quicker without a stem to hold on to. Not to mention that it’s way too easy to spill your wine! Alcohol abuse! Let’s just say, I learned my lesson and we all quickly dumped our wine back into our regular Riedel ( glasses. (Guess what I'll be asking for Hanukkah this year!)

I also think I had my first ever course that I didn’t like at a Provisions class…a pork sandwich. To make matters worse, there was bacon on top of it too! It just oozed with grease which is such a turnoff for me when it comes to food. The cheddar cheese melted on top of the bread was clever, but it couldn’t save the sandwich. I did try two bites so as to give it a proper chance but the pork meat had that piggy flavor that I cannot stand. What was really sad is that I had none of my piggy-loving friends to help me finish it off. Not that they would have had room in their tummies at this point anyway! The pork sandwich was paired with a Burgundy from France.

The old-fashioned “beef burger” came in “Big Scott” style since he used a similar style of sauce like in a Big Mac. It was definitely my favorite burger of the night by far and it was covered with havarti cheese on top. This was paired with a Tempranillo, which I still need practice saying. For this wine, Angela let us try a very young 2009 and compare it with a 2006 version. You could easily tell that the 2009 was “quaffable” by itself since it was a lot lighter than the older version, but the 2006 held up to the beef flavor much better.

For dessert, calling it a “burger” was a bit of a stretch but it consisted of a chocolate mousse “patty” surrounded by pound cake “bread” with a strawberry. So delicious! Of course this was paired with a Muscat dessert wine which was way too strong and sweet.

This class probably served the biggest proportions out of all the classes I had been to and I didn’t even eat too much of the pork burger. Although, it was easy to fill up due to needing a couple of slices of some type of bread which helped make the burgers even more filling. Still, Chef Scott is most generous!

Angela has a chock full of classes coming up in the fall so be sure to check out her events page on her web site.

Be sure to pick up a copy of Feast ( as well, in which Angela is a featured writer!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Wine and Cheese Place pairings

I am so happy to report that wine and cheese classes are back! Thanks to STLwinegirl, Angie Ortmann, The Wine and Cheese Place ( has agreed to host a class for this month, as well as August and September. You can see all of Angie’s summer classes here:
I just got back in town and I didn’t have football practice so I totally lucked out that I could go!
In addition to focusing on cheese, all the wines served were white so it really was a good class for me to go to. I feel like I have lost some cheese knowledge since I hadn’t gone to any classes in awhile so I really enjoyed the refresher course.
Three out of five of the cheeses were soft and creamy, so I could have used a fork and knife to eat the cheese instead of using two crackers as utensils. hehe
Of course we started out with the lightest wine, a sparkling wine, and worked our way to the fullest body wine, a Chilean Chardonnay. It’s funny how white wines can have such range and even wines like Rieslings can have a wide range of flavors.
I would say the class was a big hit because all of the pairings were great at contrasting each other, which I feel is what improves the taste of wine. In combination, the pairings should improve each other but I am biased in that the cheese improves the wine. Hehe
Angie says that sparkling wine goes well with just about everything, but I definitely think it is best paired with a light cheese, such as a triple crème. The creamy cheeses really help cut through acidic wines well.
The second pairing featured the local Baetje Farms,, and their goat cheese. We just had the regular flavor but they also come in a variety of flavors as well. It has such a sweet finish! It was paired with a Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.
I was super excited to see a German Riesling on the list, but it was paired with a blue cheese. Ugh. At least it had a mild flavor but Angie swears by pairing the super sweet wine with the pungent blue cheeses. I guess the two extremes help both calm the flavors…
Another treat in the next pairing was the Taleggio paired with a white blend, mostly Pinot Gris. The Taleggio is rich and creamy, but has more of a strong aroma and flavor. A full-bodied wine is definitely needed.
And the last pairing was very full-flavored as well as a Spanish Mahon was paired with the Chilean Chardonnay. Let’s just say I helped to finish of what was left of the Mahon at the very end of class! Hehe
In addition to discussing the pairings, I always enjoy listening to Angie’s stories of her time in San Francisco, where she learned everything she knows first-hand and on the job! It certainly makes learning a lot easy for the rest of us who don’t have the time to eat and drink our way through a city. Hehe
Here are my takeaways:
· Cheese is always freshest when cut from the wheel as opposed to wedges that have already been cut and wrapped. Although, cheese stores go through their cheese pretty quickly so it’s not like it really sits all that long anyway.
· Store cheese in the bottom of the fridge, not in the deli tray, and wrap it in plastic.
· Never freeze cheese…it will quickly break down if you do! And that’s cheese abuse!
Somehow we got on the topic of pricing and restaurants usually charge three times the price of a bottle of wine but then you also have to deal with corkage fees if you bring your own.
And the most expensive meal I’ve ever had? With Angie. Hehe
The next cheese class is August 5th!