Friday: Pairing Cheese & Drinks, Colorado style

Today at LaDomestique, I’ve got a couple of cheese and drink pairings for you. In the spirit of a week spent on Colorado goat cheese, I stayed local and chose beer and wine made in Colorado. I hope this encourages you to go out and discover pairings to go with your favorite cheeses. Despite what others may say, there are no rules to perfect pairings. One of my great passions is the magic that happens when I discover a beautiful food and wine (or beer) pairing. A Chef I worked with once said, “A good pairing is when you can’t tell where the food ends and the wine begins”. A few suggestions to help you on your journey:

  • What grows together goes together
    Food and drink produced in the same area share the same terroir, or sense of place. The Loire Valley in France is home to crisp, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc wines that pair beautifully with the local goat cheese. Look for opportunities to pair ingredients in your local area.
  • Balance
    Being well balanced is a revered quality in food and wine. No one component is overwhelming and all flavors can be appreciated by the palate. Kind of like people- it’s generally easier to be friends with someone who is well balanced. In the world of flavor creaminess is balanced by acidity, saltiness is balanced by sweetness, etc. Seek balance in your cheese and wine pairings.
  • Opposites Attract
    This is similar to balance. If the cheese is pungent, try a fortified, sweet wine. A rich, buttery cheese can pair well with a crisp, acidic white.
  • Samesies
    You can seek out a complimentary pairing where there is harmony between the cheese and wine. The  lemony flavor of chèvre is enhanced by an acidic white wine. Each ingredient gets along well. Today I paired a strong, pungent cheese with a full bodied, intensely hoppy beer. It works.

That’s all you need to know to go forth and start pairing. Try new things and develop your palate. Bon appetit!

 

Mojo India Pale Ale with Haystack Mountain Red Cloud

The Cheese

Haystack Mountain Red Cloud

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Storyboard: Colorado Goat Cheese

Colorado Goat Cheese Storyboard (c) 2011 LaDomestique.com
Special thanks to Alfalfa’s Market for allowing La Domestique to shoot photos of their cheese department.

 

The Soul of Colorado Goat Cheese

According to The Cheese Lover’s Companion, “The soul of every cheese is the milk used to make it”. Think about that for a second. What a great analogy, the idea of cheese having a soul! It all starts with milk, and the manipulation of the cheese maker (salting, molding, ripening, etc.) is just packaging. What affects the flavor of the milk to start with? Certainly the species and breed of animal produce milk with unique flavors. The milk produced by goats is lower in fat and supposedly easier to digest that other milks. The texture can be soft and creamy or semi-hard like Haystack Mountain Sunlight. Goat’s milk yields cheeses with acidity, resulting in a tangy flavor.

Then comes terroir and season. Terroir is a sense of place. It’s a reflection of where the animal lives and what native plants it eats, the air it breathes and the weather it endures. What kind of terroir do we have in Colorado? It’s a rugged and mountainous landscape with crisp, cool air and 300 days of sunshine a year. Peaches, plums, cherries, and apples grow in our orchards. Chives and thyme grow wild and lemony sorrel flourishes in our dry climate. At Avalanche Cheese Company, Wendy Mitchell’s goats graze on clover, alfalfa, oats, and peas in the fields (according to Edible Aspen).

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Cook in the moment: Goat Cheese & the Sandwich

Today I want to introduce you to a sandwich. This is not just any sandwich- it’s elegant and has some serious flavor. I’m going to rock your lunch today, gourmet style.

It started with ‘Truffled Honey & Lemon Chevre Spread’ made by Avalanche Cheese Company. This cheese changed my world a little bit. Kudos to Wendy Mitchell for her thoughtful touch when it comes to cheese-making. ‘Truffled Honey & Lemon Chevre Spread’ truly has just a hint of white truffle, enough to leave you wanting more. The lemony tang combined with subtle honey flavor is perfectly balanced. There is something special about Wendy’s cheese. It’s the first time I’ve tasted a Colorado cheese that has worldly sophistication. I believe her cheeses are special because Wendy understands the art of being subtle. It’s all very Euro, isn’t it?

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10 Ways Tuesdays: Colorado Goat Cheese

I’ve come up with 10 ways to use Colorado goat cheese in your spring pantry:

 

1.  Scrambled Eggs

My most favorite way to enjoy chèvre is crumbled into soft scrambled eggs just before they finish cooking. Spring herbs such as dill or chives are a welcome addition. The creamy, tangy goat cheese is really nice with farm fresh eggs. A goat cheese omelette would be lovely as well.

2.  Salad

Chèvre in salad is nothing new, but I have to tell you something magical happens when you combine goat cheese, golden beets, and toasted hazelnuts. The flavors harmonize perfectly: tangy cheese, earthy sweet beets, and the nuts are just plain nutty.  So good with a mixture of green and purple spring lettuces. Dijon vinaigrette is the way to go here.

3.  Tartine

I must admit that until today, I did not know a “tartine” is French for an open faced sandwich. I came across a recipe for “Strawberry Tartine” in Dorie Greenspan’s latest book, Around My french Table. Dorie spreads goat cheese on a baguette, places strawberries on top with fresh ground pepper and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. This might be my new favorite thing!

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Ingredient of the Week: Colorado Goat Cheese

Ingredient Of The Week : Colorado Goat Cheese (c) 2011 LaDomestique.com

I can think of no cheese I crave more during spring time than fresh goat cheese. The soft creamy texture and lemony tart flavor of chèvre begs to be paired with fresh herbs and crisp salad greens. Pastas with bright green peas and asparagus benefit from a sprinkling of crumbly goat cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. The creamy texture of chèvre lends itself to an easy but addictive dip for the vegetable crudites platter. Goat cheese is simple and fresh, just like a crisp spring morning in the garden.

Chèvre is only the beginning. Goat cheese can also be made into a pasteurized blue cheese; a firm, pungent washed rind cheese; or an elegant, soft and oozy bloomy rind cheese. Aged goat cheese becomes dry and firm with a more developed, complex flavor than fresh chèvre.

Join me this week at LaDomestique, as I explore Colorado goat cheese in its many forms. The craggy mountains and dry foothills of Colorado are well suited to raising low maintenance goats. According to The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan, “The French call a goat a poor man’s cow because it needs no more than roadside herbage to survive”. Despite their reputation as a walking garbage disposal, goats produce milk that can be made into cheeses with an exceptional bright and clean flavor. Goat cheese can be grassy, herbaceous, and earthy. Trying different goat cheeses reveals a world of tastes and textures.

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