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