Sorry for the bad picture here... I had to snap it just before someone ate it! I always forget to take pictures :)
The fourth course for the Night of Cheese was probably the most savory of the offerings, even though it was still on the sweet side. Featured was the Battenkill Brebis cheese from 3-Corner Field Farm (Shushan, NY), paired with a 2008 Syrah from the Magnificent Wine Company (Columbia Valley, Washington) and fresh pears with balsamic-steeped cherries.
I can't lie - this course took a little fanagaling to get it just right. The cheese is a superstar and most definitely deserved a spot on the menu, but getting the right combination of accompaniments and accouterments was somewhat challenging (for me, certainly, more than Eric). Battenkill Brebis is an aged raw sheep milk cheese that has a firm texture (like Parmesan, but smooth like an aged cheddar). It is nutty and has a particularly gritty texture towards the rind. The richness of the cheese called for a bold yet smooth wine.
Enter the Syrah. It was peppery with notes of cherry. Slightly oakey, it coated the entire palate highlighted the earthy qualities of the cheese. We took a cue from these existing flavor profiles and steeped some dried cherries in balsamic vinegar and coupled that next to pears from the Silly Goose Farm orchard that were cellared over the winter (the cherries highlighted the flavors of the wine and cheese, while the pear helped cut the richness of it all and brightened the plate). Keep some of these cherries on hand to add as a quick topping to lots of different cheeses or pureed up and added to salad dressing.
Makes approximately 3/4 cup of cherries and balsamic syrup
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup good balsamic vinegar (I used a little bit of fig balsamic, as well)
1 tablespoon honey
1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and honey. Once it just boils, reduce heat to medium/medium-low and add cherries
2. Cook for about five minutes (until cherries appear to soften slightly). Remove from heat at allow to steep for 10 minutes
3. Serve immediately or allow to sit in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a month
A very special thank you to Eric Paul, The Cheese Traveler, for his expertise. Without him, this night would not have happened! Be sure to follow him on Facebook. 3-Corner Field Farm cheese can be purchased through The Cheese Traveler or online.