Monday, April 23, 2012

A Night of Cheese: First Course

The first course in A Night of Cheese featured one of my favorite cheeses - Fresh Goat's Milk Cheese from Coach Farm (Pine Plains, NY). The cheese was smooth and creamy with a little bit of tang on the finish. Its most notable feature was probably the creaminess, which coated the entire palate, but a close second would be the grassy notes that proved how fresh the cheese really was. Each diner received half of a two ounce cheese "button" alongside a candied orchid. The hardened sugar on the orchid provided a nice crunch to contrast with the cheese, while the floral qualities highlighted the "grassiness." Diners simply plucked off the petals to enjoy with each bite of cheese.

The beverage pairing was a Non-Vintage Cuvee M from Mumm Napa (Rutherford, CA). This demi-sec sparkling wine featured particularly small bubbles and a long finish, which were excellent for cleansing the palate and cutting the creamy texture of the cheese. For more info on sparkling wine dryness, read this post.

I really loved this course. It was the perfect jumping off point for the rest of the evening. The candied orchids were an elegant touch that could not have been simpler to make. Try making a batch of candied edible flowers to decorate cakes and other baked goods! (Besides orchids, other edible flowers include herb and fruit blossoms, violets, johnny jump-ups, carnations, lilacs, nasturtiums, English daisies, marigolds, and hollyhocks, among others.)

Candied Flowers

One egg white (or powdered egg whites - mix according to manufacturer's instructions)
Castor sugar or superfine sugar
Edible flowers

1. Select your flowers. Be sure to choose flowers that have been grown for culinary purposes without pesticides and that are blemish free (you want them to look pretty, after all!). Wash them gently or wipe with a wet sponge to remove any dirt. Allow to air dry.

2. Beat an egg white until slightly frothy. With a small clean paintbrush, lightly coat each flower (front and back) with the egg white (work in batches to avoid the egg white drying too fast on the flower).

3. Coat each flower thoroughly with the sugar. To make your own superfine sugar, pulse white granulated sugar in a food processor several times (be careful - don't turn it into powdered sugar!).

4. Allow each flower to dry for 12-24 hours on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Store in an airtight container until ready to use. Candied flowers will last up to three months in a cool, dry environment. Avoid eating the white base of each flower, which tends to be bitter.

A very special thanks to Eric Paul, The Cheese Traveler, for his expertise. Without him, this night would not have happened! Be sure to follow him on Facebook. Coach Farm goats milk cheese can be purchased through The Cheese Traveler or at any of these establishments.

A Night of Cheese

I recently hosted a truly magical evening at Silly Goose Farm. With the help of my friend Eric Paul (aka The Cheese Traveler), I invited a group of fellow foodies to the farm for an intimate evening of cheese! The "Night of Cheese" was  a six-course cheese tasting (with full beverage pairings and accouterments) that went beyond the normal parameters of a "tasting" and broke into workshop territory. I think the attendees learned more about cheese than they ever thought possible! Eric explained how each cheese was made and the style and history of each offering, plus suggested other potential pairings and the best practices for assembling a cheese plate. Our tasting focused on the sweeter side of cheese and opened minds to the power of cheese for dessert!

I set the table simply - white linens, my collection of Bell Flower china and mismatched silver flatware, new and vintage stemware, and a recent acquisition of antique Anchor Hocking green glass tumblers. Menu cards were wrapped around each napkin, and I made itty-bitty notepads that I fastened to the inside of the menu cards so that guests could write down tidbits of information from the evening. White tulips in old salt and pepper shakers and lots of (unscented) candles finished the table.

The menu of the evening was as follows:

First Course: Fresh Goat's Milk Cheese (Coach Farms, Pine Plains, NY), Cuvee M (Non-Vintage, Mumm Napa, Rutherford, CA), Candied Orchids
Second Course: Eclipse (R&G Cheesemakers, Cohoes, NY), Sancerre (2010, Domaine Des Vieux Pruneirs, France), Orange Marmalade, Toasted Pistachio
Third Course: Manchester (Consider Bardwell Farm, West Pawlett, VT), Ommegang Witte (Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY), Walnut Praline
Intermezzo: Lemon Sorbet
Fourth Course: Battenkill Brebis (3-Corner Field Farm, Shushan, NY), Syrah (2008, Magnificent Wine Company, Columbia Valley, WA), Fresh Pear with Balsamic-Steeped Cherries
Fifth Course: Rupert (Consider Bardwell Farm, West Pawlett, VT), Cornelius Applejack (Harvest Spirits, Valatie, NY), Chocolate Chantilly
Sixth Course: Seaver Brook Blue (Bonnieview Farm, South Albany, VT), Tawny Port (10 Year, Churchill's Portugal), Buckwheat Honey

The night was really amazing! I had the best time planning and prepping with Eric, and based on the responses of the attendees, everyone had a phenomenal time! To learn more about what The Cheese Traveler is about, what he is up to, and where he is going, please be sure to visit him on Facebook!

I'll be posting about the details of each course (with recipes!) this week, so stay tuned for more cheesy goodness.