Thursday, December 30, 2010

Planning a Cheese Course

I revised this posting on 2/31/10/
I am serving a cheese course on New Years Eve. I have served cheeses as part of a buffet or with drinks. I usually choose a brie or something Brie- like, a jalsburg or something similar, a cheddar, and, if J isn't going to be there, a blue cheese.

So I wanted to do something a little more exotic, not in a threatening way, but let's all stretch a little on the last day of the year and see if we can't discover something new and wonderful. My web searching turned up gourmet food store that called it's cheese department a fromagerie So off I went to Max's.

There are four Max restaurants in Rochester. One is cross the street from the Eastman Theater, and J took me there for my birthday this year. This was the restaurant where they asked my how I wanted my pork chop cooked. As in, did I want it rare. That was one of those moments when I realized that I had a certain view of the universe, and it was utterly wrong. I had the mistaken notion that pork was to be cooked well done, at least.

Cheese from Max's Market
So the shop I was setting off to is part of the Max's franchise. The front of the store is expensive jams and pickles, and other nonessentials. Nothing too strange, and sadly, nothing as nice as the Simon David  a lovely store where my mother would buy wonderful pastrami and lox. In the back of Max's is a takeaway gourmet meals area, and you can also order something to eat there. And there is the cheese case.

Chris, of Max's Market, helped me choose. This is what I brought home:

Bellweather Farms "Carmody" "A Bellwether original! Made from Jersey cow milk and aged at least 6 weeks. Naturally golden in color with a smooth texture and wonderful flavor, Carmody is a consistent blue ribbon winner at the Los Angeles County Fair."

Manchego. "The intense taste and crumbly texture make it perfect to eat it as is, with a slice of bread. As the focal point of Antipasto, Manchego can be served with olives, sun-dried tomatos, crusty bread and a robust red wine (Rioja) or a dry sherry (Fino).It is equally enjoyable as a snack or dessert with fruit or fruit tarts."

Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam Triple Cream "Just North of the San Francisco Bay, Mt. Tamalpais rises like a monument to Northern California's natural beauty. In deference, Cowgirl Creamery named its signature cheese MT TAM. It's a smooth, creamy, elegant, 10-oz, triple-cream - made with tasty organic milk from the Straus Family Dairy. MT TAM is firm, yet buttery with a mellow, earthy flavor reminiscent of white mushrooms."

Artisinal Carbecou Feuille. "Cabecou Feuille, a small disc of fresh goat cheese from the Perigord region of France, is dipped in plum brandy and sprinkled with coarse black pepper before being wrapped in two chestnut leaves to mature. Cabecou is smooth and creamy with aromatic brandy flavors and a tangy bite."

Capra Ubriaco al Traminer "Capra Ubriaco al traminer is a firm cheese steeped for a period of 10 days in a red grape must. The Traminer grape is a relative to the Gewurztraminer. The added wine flavor gives the pleasantly milky cheese more complexity and richness on the palate."

I didn't realize that the Carbecou Feuille was dipped in brandy. I considered replacing it with it with this Cowgirl Creamery cheese: "Cowgirl Creamery captures the essence of West Marin with its Red Hawk, a triple-cream, washed-rind, fully-flavored cheese made from organic cow milk from the Straus Family Dairy. Aged four weeks and washed with a brine solution that tints the rind a sunset red-orange, Red Hawk won Best-In-Show at the American Cheese Society's Annual Conference in 2003 and a Gold Ribbon and 2nd Best-in-Show in 2009." It also looked like it was too small to split 5 ways, so I took off for the Pittsford Wegman's to find a replacement.

If you don't live in the Rochester area, or one of the other lucky towns that have a Wegman's, you won't really understand the devotion that we have for this wonderful grocery stores! The Pittsford Weggies, nicknamed "Taj Ma-Weggies" by our friend Sherrie, has not only everything you might want to buy, but the absolute best of everything. And they are staffed by the most friendly, helpful, and customer-centered people that breath air. Seriously, I'm not sure why I didn't buy all of the cheese at Wegmans. Next time I will.

Wegman's to the rescue!
So, a young lady named Sarah carefully listened to my request for a washed rind cheese to complete my cheese plate, and suggested Bourboned Pie D'angloys, a cheese made from French cow's milk. Here's how this website describes this cheese: "Decadently smelly and drippy inside it is reminiscent of a very ripe brie. As you may have guessed from the picture of a tiled roof house, it hails from Burgundy. As far as I know, it is sold in the Francophone zone only (France, Southern Belgium, Luxembourg, Western Switzerland). It seems a recent - post-WWII - invention but what it lacks in pedigree it makes good in taste." This is indeed a stinky cheese. I'm hoping it won't be too off putting for my guests.

Truffle Honey
I will be serving these cheese on individual plates with a smear of truffle honey. I'll also offer three nice breads (also from Wegman's, of course!) One is a sourdough raisin, and I can't wait to pair it with the Pie D'angloys. I also have a nice whole wheat bread, and a white French baguette. Because I bought an entire jar but only needed one for the Remoulade sauce, I'll set out some cornichons. And while I'm at it, an apple and some dried apricots.

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