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Posts Tagged ‘pairings’

Domaine de la Pépière Château-Thébaud Clos des Morines 2009 Muscadet Sur Lie with Valençay Affiné

It’s springtime, and you can just begin to smell it in the air as the damp ground warms up and the bulbs start pushing through. In the cheese world, there is similar rejoicing, because kidding season (when goats have their babies!) has just passed and the best of springtime chèvres are appearing in the cheese case. Paired with a mineral-driven white, these little goat cheeses make a perfect afternoon snack or appetizer to welcome in spring!

My favorite of all of the confection-like shapes in our goat case is the Valençay Affiné. This handsome, grey, truncated pyramid hails from the commune of Valençay, in the eastern part of France’s Loire valley. Valençay has a delicious, thick, ash-ripened rind over its creamy paste, and to top it all off, this cheese has quite a history! Legend has it that Napoleon, after a disappointing campaign in Egypt, took out his sword and whacked the top point of the pyramid off his cheese one evening, to make its shape less mocking.

The flavors are still there, even if the top point is not. The delicate ash coating underneath the rind slightly de-acidifies the cheese, setting up the minerally, chalky undertones in perfect contrast and highlighting a salty-earthy quality that the best chèvres often exhibit. That’s why I like the cheese so much with this standout bottle of Muscadet from Domaine de la Pépière, located at the opposite end of the Loire Valley.

Valençay Affiné

Valençay Affiné

This special cuvée of Muscadet from white wine superstar Marc Olivier is actually named for the town it’s from in the heart of Muscadet country, and for the soil it is grown on: “granite de  Château-Thébaud.” In a region overrun with mass-produced whites that are one-dimensional guzzlers, Marc Olivier is one of a handful of growers determined to showcase the pedigree of their local white grape: Melon de Bourgogne. This particular cuvée comes from a small hectare parcel of granite-rich soil. You can smell and feel all of that clean, stony minerality straight through the finish of this wine, which carries quite a bit of texture due to its extended time left sitting on the lees. Paired with a nibble of salty, creamy Valençay, its quiet apple orchard fruit notes open up beautifully, and its minerally finish clears the way for another tasty bite. Happy spring!

Jessica Smith is the Wine Buyer and a cheesemonger at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

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Ekiola Sheep in the Pyrenees Mountains

Ekiola Sheep in the Pyrénées Mountains

A trip through the French Basque country is one of distinct sights, scents, and flavors. Rolling hills of green pastures are punctuated by craggy mountain peaks and deep valleys, and sheep are everywhere! When Ihsan, Valerie and I traveled through the area in the fall, we tasted a huge array of sheep milk cheeses and an assortment of intense but beautiful wines. Here, we’re featuring a few of our favorite tastes: Ardi Gasnas from Fromagerie Pardou and Ekiola, and a killer red wine from Domaine Ilarria of Irouléguy. Ardi Gasna (or gazna) is Basque for “sheep cheese,” and these smooth, rich sheep cheeses are a specialty in the Pyrénées mountains.

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Gilles Berlioz's "La Piquette" with Pantaleo and kumquats

Each winter, I chuckle when I hear myself describing 30 degree weather as “balmy,” while simultaneously shaking my head at the arctic outcrops of snow outside. With all the white snow setting everything in frigid, monochromatic contrast, I find myself craving shades of yellow and orange, and the warm spectrum of flavors that go along with them. A delicate, understated Savoie white from Gilles Berlioz, made of 100% Jacquère, is the perfect complement to one of my favorite aged Sardinian goat milk cheeses, Pantaleo. Coupled with some thin slices of exuberantly tart kumquats, I get all of the sunshine and fresh aromas I need to make it through the deep-freeze of winter. (more…)

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In 75 A.D. the Romans picked a nice spot in what is today southern Wales to build a fort or caer. A few hundred years later Saint Cenydd entrusted the monastery he started there to his son Ffilli, and thus was born the beginnings of the town of Caerphilly. (more…)

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Lo Brusc Acacia honey

When putting together cheese plates for our classes, we pair a condiment with each cheese flight.

Floriano Turco honey: Melata di Bosco

Not only is it fun for folks to try new things together but the ‘whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ phenomenon certainly comes into play when pairing cheeses with condiments. Classic go-tos for cheeses are honey, jam and membrillo (quince paste).  We also have a range of mostardas from Italy that provide a wonderfully spicy/fruity compliment to some of our stronger cheeses.  The rule of thumb (as with wine pairings) is generally to match strength to strength. (more…)

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