Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dancing Buffalo Apple Icewine

Carl Schmitter of Chateau Buffalo and Dancing Buffalo Cidre recently released an incredibly unique and tasty concoction that you won't find anywhere else: Glace de Ballet Apple Icewine. This delectable dessert wine is a sweet and refreshing change of pace.

Carl starts by pressing Golden Russet, Golden Delicious and wild apples and collecting the juice. Then he sets the juice outside in the Buffalo winter cold (see, Buffalo winters are good for something!) until much of the water in the juice freezes. The vast majority of the sugar in the apple juice falls to the bottom, while the ice forms at the top. Carl then pours off the heavier, sweeter and more flavorful juice that remains and repeats the freezing process at least once, sometimes twice.

Carl then ferments the concentrated juice that results from this process of 'cryoconcentration.' Because there is less sugar in apple juice than there is in grape juice, the fermentation process goes more slowly than for ordinary wines. Carl doesn't add any extra sugar to speed up the process. He uses only the natural sugars found in the apples. It takes about two months for the fermentation process to transform enough of the apple sugar into alcohol.

Because Carl wants enough sugar to remain in the wine so that it can be a dessert wine, Carl stops the fermentation at a certain point simply by taking wine back outside for a "cold shock." Carl lets the cold Buffalo weather kill the yeast responsible for fermentation but does not allow it to freeze again.

Once back inside, Carl takes the wine through a series of three 'rackings.' In this process Carl allows the solids in the icewine (including the dead yeast) to settle to the bottom of the large jugs it is stored in and pours off the clearer liquid above the solids. Gravity thus acts as a filter or clarifier. The racking process takes several months.

The result is a wonderful and unique icewine that not only tastes great but makes for some interesting after-dinner conversation as well. Carl also suggests serving it as an apéritif or with lightly sautéed foie gras, a fine piece of chèvre or warmed apple tart. I can't recommend this one-of-a-kind apple icewine highly enough.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Toronto Wine and Cheese Show

The 2009 Toronto Wine & Cheese Show is coming up March 20-22, 2009. Attendees can sample thousands of wines, spirits, cheeses and other culinary delights.

The show, Canada's largest of its kind, will be held at The International Centre (6900 Airport Road, Mississauga) Fri., Mar. 20th 12pm - 10pm, Sat. (Mar. 21st) 12pm - 9pm, and Sun. (Mar. 22nd) 12pm - 6pm.

The Toronto Wine & Cheese Show features a variety of Wine Appreciation Seminars offered by internationally and locally recognized wine professionals. Seminar topics include tips on pairing wine and cheese, the basic dimensions of wine appreciation, top Chilean wines, and big, bold Italian reds. A full list of seminars can be found here. Seminar tickets include tastings during the Seminars as well as $18 admission to the Wine and Cheese Show.

The show also features cheese tastings hosted by the Dairy Farmers of Canada. More than a dozen live cooking shows featuring hosts from the Food Network will also take place at the Gourmet Kitchen Theatre. Live jazz and other entertainment will be provided throughout the event.

A fully detailed list of all events will be posted on the show's website Mar. 5th. Attendees must be 19 years of age or older. Infants and children are not permitted.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Raw Milk Cheeses Now Permitted in Quebec

According The Globe and Mail, Quebec is now going to allow the sale of raw-milk cheeses that have been aged for less than 60 days. The US Dept. of Agriculture and its Canadian equivalent have banned such cheeses over health concerns.

Purists, however, have long maintained that requiring pasteurization renders the "bries" and "camemberts" available in North America nearly tasteless. Connoisseurs of soft-ripened cheeses maintain that these cheeses reach their peak aroma and flavor after 21 to 30 days of aging and that pasteurization destroys harmless but essential microbes that give the cheeses a unique, rich flavor.

The rationale for allowing cheeses that are aged for more than 60 days to bypass the pasteurization process is that if there are any harmful pathogens in the cheese, they will reveal themselves during the aging process in visible cultures. The tainted cheese can then be safely discarded. Because cultures of harmful microbes may not show up after only a few days of aging, there is some risk that potentially harmful cheese will be sold to consumers.

In order to alleviate concerns about the safety of the new raw-milk cheeses, Quebec is instituting a new set of strict rules that govern milk production and veterinary inspection of dairy herds.

Quebec has long been the capital of artisanal cheesemaking in Canada. I may have to take a cheese tour of the province in the near future.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Winter Wine Day at Niagara University

Following upon the success of their first Wine Day last summer, Niagara University has decided to host a Winter Wine Day on Sat., Feb. 28th, 9am-12pm. The cost is $35, which includes registration, a personalized Wine Day glass, and a 10% discount card from the Niagara Wine Trail.

I attended the Wine Day event last Aug. and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I discovered there was more to the Niagara (NY) region's winemaking industry than I was previously aware of.

This year's Wine Day features lectures on a variety of topics, including proper storage of wine, etiquette for pouring and serving wine, the history of barrel usage in winemaking, which woods make the perfect wine, what happens to a wine while it ages in a barrel and why this is desirable, and how to decipher the individual components of wines' aromas and flavors.

Wine Day presents a wonderful opportunity to learn not only about wine in general but also about the unique wines of Niagara County, NY.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Heartland Chèvre

My local cheese shop, Premier Gourmet, recently started carrying a new line of chèvre from Heartland Creamery. The Heartland lineup includes a natural (or plain) chèvre, plus several varieties that are rolled in an array of seasonings--e.g., fine herbs, lemon pepper, garlic & chive, and olive & pimiento.

Heartland also offers a chèvre log blended with dried cranberries, chopped pecans and a touch of cinnamon. This is the one I bought. It is a very pleasant blend of creamy, sweet, tangy, sour, fruity and nutty flavors.

Heartland Creamery is located in northeast Missouri. Their goat cheeses are made from the milk of 750 grass-fed, hormone-free Saanen goats. With their herd of 6000 Holsteins, they have become the largest dairy in MO in a very short period of time.

I don't usually buy "cheese-with-stuff-in-it," but I was initially attracted to the cheese because it had the most interesting packaging in the cheese case (cf. picture above). I don't know why more American cheesemakers don't utilize interesting and stylish packaging to showcase their products.

Another unique feature of Heartland Creamery is that all of the profits from the sale of their milks and cheeses go to support the faith-based recovery work of Heartland Ministeries. They provide housing, education, recovery programs, group homes, and vocational training for troubled adolescents and adults. I don't remember ever buying a cheese before that helped people.

Heartland also takes a lighthearted approach to its religious roots, playfully naming its habanero and jalapeño Gouda "Brimstone" and its aged Gouda "Methuselah" (after the oldest person mentioned in the Bible). I encourage you to try the interesting cheeses from this relatively new cheesemaker.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An Easy Way to Remove Wine Labels

In the following video Richard Hayes demonstrates an easy technique for removing and saving wine labels that does not require the purchase of expensive adhesive strips or other wine products.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Midnight Moon

The superior quality of the Cypress Grove Chevre (no, they don't use the accent grave) product line is probably unmatched among American cheesemakers today. Their Midnight Moon is one of the many reasons why.

Midnight Moon is a pale, firm, cheddar-style goat's milk cheese that is aged at least six months. It has a wonderully rich, creamy and nutty flavor.

The milk comes from a dairy in the Netherlands and does much of its aging in Europe before coming to Cypress Grove's northern California headquarters. The curds are cooked during the cheesemaking process, which accounts for much of its firmness.

The cheese was awarded the Best New Product in Show prize in 2002 at the International Fancy Food & Confection Show and was a Finalist for Best Cheese there a year later.

If you want to find out what high quality artisanal cheese tastes like, sample this or any other fine product from Cypress Grove. (Cf. here, here, here and here for my reviews of other Cypress Grove products.)

I enjoy Midnight Moon most on a slightly buttery cracker. Cypress Grove recommends pairing it with cured meats, fresh fruit or fig preserves. It pairs well with a variety of wines, including Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, dry Sherry, Gewurtztraminer, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The only negative thing about Cypress Grove products is that they are more expensive than most other cheeses in my local cheese purveyor's cheese case. I understand that this is often a necessary feature of high quality food products, but I would eat a lot more Cypress Grove Chevre if it were cheaper.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cooleeney Irish Farmstead Cheese

The second installment of the video partnership between Corks and Curds and iFoods features iFoods chef Niall Harbison interviewing Breda Maher of Cooleeney Cheese in County Tipperary, Ireland. Cooleeney has been making fine artisanal cheeses since 1986 from the milk of their Friesian dairy herd.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

2009 Niagara Icewine Festival

The 2009 Niagara Icewine Festival will be held Jan. 17th, 18th, 24th and 25th in the Niagara region of southern Ontario. (The event is listed as spanning Jan. 16th - 25th, but the main events fall on the two weekends listed.) The official festival guide can be found here.

Every year the Icewine Festival features two outdoor icewine bars furnished with chairs and tables made out of ice (pics here). Sound interesting? Don't bother. Every year the icewine bars are crowded into tiny little tents not fit for the enormous volume of patrons crowding into them.

Each year that I've attended the Icewine Festival I've pushed and elbowed my way into the icewine bar located in the middle of the street in Niagara-on-the-Lake, only to wait in an extremely long line inside the tent for a sip of icewine that I won't get to enjoy to its full because someone will hit my elbow and make me spill half of it. Then I won't be able to enjoy any of the potentially interesting ice chairs because they are always--trust me, always--taken by people who are going to be sitting in them for a very long time.

My recommendation is that you go to the wineries themselves. You'll find shorter lines, friendlier service, cozier atmospheres and no crowds. A map of all the Niagara wineries can be found here. See p. 14ff. of the festival guide for a listing of events that will be taking place at each of the area wineries.

If you're in the area but can't make the Icewine Festival, consider coming out to the Niagara wineries during their "Days of Wine and Chocolate" weekends during Feb.

Ontario icewine is a unique and interesting beverage. If you can't make it to Ontario, look for icewine in the dessert wine section of your local wine shop or ask your wine retailer to order some for you. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Smokey Blue

Rogue Creamery's Smokey Blue is the world's first (and only?) smoked blue cheese and is one of the most interesting blue cheeses I've ever tasted.

After aging for at least 3 months, this raw cow's milk cheese is cold smoked for 16 hours over smoldering hazelnut shells. The result is an interesting blend of sweetness, sharpness and smokiness. The smoky flavor of the cheese is not overwhelming and balances (if not mellows) the sharpness of its blue veins.

Smokey Blue won the 'Best New Product' Award at the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) Food Show in 2005.

Smokey Blue pairs well with a variety of wines--from full-bodied to fruity reds (e.g., Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Merlot) to dry whites (e.g.,Pinot Gris, Chardonnay) to sweeter white wines (e.g., Gewürztraminer, late harvest Rieslings) to ports. Try a slice on your next burger or steak or serve it on your next party cheese tray.

Those who are not big fans of blue cheeses should definitely give Smokey Blue a try. It is a nutty, creamy delight.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Moderate Drinking May Decrease Brain Size

According to a recent study published in Archives of Neurology, even moderate drinking can decrease the size of your brain. A team of researchers led by Carol Ann Paul of Wellesley College asked 1,839 participants between the ages of 33 and 88 how much they drank per week and used MRI scans to measure their brain volumes. They found "a significant negative linear relationship between alcohol consumption and total cerebral brain volume." In other words, the more people drank, the more their brains shrunk.

As people age, their brains normally shrink about 2% every 10 years. However, Paul's results show that the brains of heavy drinkers (more than 14 drinks per week) were 1.5% smaller than those of non-drinkers. Moderate drinkers (8-14 drinks per week) also had smaller brain volumes than non-drinkers. Since decreased volume in certain areas of the brain is associated with memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease, these results raise some questions about the touted health benefits of moderate drinking. Those benefits are usually associated with the human cardiovascular system. However, it may be that what's good for your heart is not so good for your brain.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cashel Blue and Crozier Blue Cheese Videos

Corks and Curds is proud to announce a new partnership with iFoods. In the coming weeks we will feature some of iFoods' Irish Farmhouse Cheese videos on the blog.

Our first video installment features iFoods chef Niall Harbison interviewing Sarah Furno, whose parents, Louis and Jane Grubb, invented Cashel Blue, Ireland's original artisanal blue cheese, in 1984. Henry and Louis Clifton Browne, nephews of Louis and Jane Grubb, invented Crozier Blue, a blue sheep's milk cheese, in the 1990s.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Insect Sushi, Anyone?

The following story has nothing to do with wine or cheese, but I couldn't resist including it.

The insect sushi platter pictured above was created by Shoichi Uchiyama, author of a recent Japanese cookbook on bug cuisine. Featured insects include a spider, a cockroach, a cicada, and cicada larvae.

Mr. Uchiyama's says he especially likes to eat female spiders that are carrying young in their stomachs. He says they taste like simmered soy beans. (This must be the Japanese equivalent to "It tastes like chicken"--the most common line given by Americans eating some weird type of meat, e.g., alligator, snake, possum, rat, etc.)

There are apparently about 1,000 different kinds of insects that are considered edible. Mr. Uchiyama's wife insists that deep-frying is the best way to enjoy most of them.

When I was in China earlier this year, I looked far and wide for a snack shop that would sell me fried scorpions on a stick. But I wasn't actually going to eat them. I just wanted to have a photo of me pretending to eat them!

Mr. Uchiyama maintains that insects are nutrionally balanced and low in fat. He does, however, admit that anyone eating one of his cockroach recipes should probably not think about what they're eating. No kidding.

Photo credit: Rex Features

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hot Chili Wine: A Spicy New Treat

After enjoying samples of several New York wines at Chateau Buffalo a couple of weeks ago, Carl Schmitter (owner of Chateau Buffalo) invited me to sample a unique concoction that one of his friends had just brought in: Hot Chili Wine from Disaster Bay, Australia.

The wine is made from nine different varieties of chilies, and is simply delicious. I've never tasted a wine that burned as it went down! The folks at Disaster Bay say that the wine leaves a "warm inner glow." That's one way to put it! They describe the heat level of the wine as being around 5/10.

The Hot Chili Wine has a sweet, citrus aroma and contains a fair amount of residual sugar. Carl believes that sugar from something besides chilies must have been added in order for fermentation to be possible. Regardless of what their secret recipe calls for, this is a sweet and spicy treat. Served ice cold, it is lots of fun.

If you can't find Disaster Bay Hot Chili Wine at your local wine shop, you can order it online here. Consider giving this as a holiday gift to that special someone who likes fiery cuisine.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Alfred le Fermier

The best Canadian cheese I managed to obtain on my Ontario Cheese Adventure was Alfred le Fermier, produced by Fromagerie La Station in Compton, Quebec. This semi-firm cheese has a pleasant floral aroma and a robust, sweet, buttery and nutty flavor.

A true farmstead cheese, Alfred le Fermier is made from the raw milk of Holstein cows that graze in organic pastures filled with white clover, wild clover and alfalfa. After the heated, pressed curds are shaped into molds, it is aged for eight months on spruce planks. During that time its rind is periodically brushed and washed (with brine?).

Alfred le Fermier goes well on a cheese tray and with fresh fruit. I recommend pairing it with medium- to full-bodied red wines (e.g., Syrah, Cabernet). A recipe for a farmhouse salad that uses Alfred le Fermier can be found here. Fromagerie La Station also provides fondue and panini recipes on their website. I highly recommend this wonderful, rustic cheese.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ontario Cheese Adventures

Last weekend I drove from Buffalo, NY, to Ottawa, ON, to attend the Canadian Society for Epistemology's conference on New Directions in Epistemology. I had hoped to visit some Canadian cheesemakers along the way. Of course, my plan was to do more than merely visit these places. I also wanted to write up nice blog posts about them.

However, it turns out that none of the cheesemakers I contacted that are listed on the Ontario Cheese Map are open to the public. So, although the Ontario Cheese Society has put together an interesting map, it doesn't appear to be very useful to the average cheese lover. (We'll assume that the Ontario Cheese Retailers map they made actually lists places that one can visit.)

When I did arrive in Ottawa, I had an equally disappointing cheese experience. I had searched the internet ahead of time in order to find the city's best cheese shops and thought that The House of Cheese in Ottawa's historic ByWard Market would be one of them. However, the owner was not at all interested in answering any of my questions about Canadian cheese--even simple questions like "Which of these Canadian cheeses do you think are the best?" or "Who makes the cheese you allowed me to sample?"

After giving me samples of two cheeses, the owner of the House of Cheese brusquely informed me that he would not be giving me any more samples--as if I was a mooch who was out to make him lose money by sampling everything in the display case. I had previously told him that I was interested in learning about and buying the best Canadian cheeses he had. One would have thought that he would have been more engaged by my interest in his caseic wares.

In spite of the various obstacles I encountered in searching for good Canadian cheeses in Ontario, I did manage to find some, which I will tell you about in my next post.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Domaine de Givaudan

I recently opened a bottle of Domaine de Givaudan's Cuvée Léa, which is made from 70% Grenache Noir, 30% Syrah, and is aged 12 months is stainless steel tanks. Domaine de Givaudan is a small wine producer located in the Côtes du Rhône in southern France.

The Cuvée Léa has a very dark purple color, a fruity, crushed berry nose, and a peppery finish. The vines that produce the Cuvée Léa are an average of 30 years old, and the soil underneath their 49 acres of vines is a unique combination of crushed sandstone, grit soils, red clay, sand, iron and limestone clay. All of these components combine with other aspects of their terroir to give the wines complex, yet balanced flavors.

At $15 or less, the wines of Domaine de Givaudan are great deals.

Friday, November 7, 2008

NY Farmstead Cheese

A growing number of New York cheesemakers are creating high quality handcrafted cheeses. Six NY farmstead cheesemakers had cheeses place in the top 3 of their categories at the most recent American Cheese Society competition.

Many of these cheesemankers united in 2003 to form the New York State Farmstead and Artisan Cheese Makers Guild in order to "foster a strong and vibrant farmstead artisan cheese-making sector in the state and to support its growth." The guild advocates the continuation and preservation of family farms and farm management practices that nourish and sustain the soil and the surrounding landscape and community.

The NY Farmstead & Artisanal Cheese Makers Guild has produced a downloadable brochure and map that shows where to find the state's artisanal cheesemakers. Consider taking the map along with you on your next driving trip across the state of NY.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Cheese Boot Camp

Murray's Cheese (NYC) recently held its first Cheese U Bootcamp--an intense 3-day course filled with lectures, demonstrations and tastings. The 15-hour course covers the history of cheesemaking, the flavor characteristics of every family of cheese, the aging process, the chemistry of cheese, a cheesemaking demonstration, and pairing cheeses with wine and beer.

This serious course of study is intended for serious cheese enthusiasts, chefs, culinary students, restaurant owners or anyone else who wants to have a strong foundation in the world of cheese. The Cheese U Boot Camp includes suggested readings, optional take home assignments, a final exam, and even a graduation certificate. The cost is $495.

Murray's also offers a slate of less intense, less expensive ($50), one-night cheese courses that cover the basics of cheese, wine and cheese pairing and a variety of other interesting topics. In March, New York magazine designated these courses as NYC's best post-secondary education opportunities. The third Saturday of every month they also offer $10 tours of their underground cheese caves for those interested in the process of cheese aging. The next time I'm in NYC, I'm going to try to work one of these classes into my schedule.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tumbleweed: A Bloomy Cheddar

Premier Gourmet, my local cheese shop, has begun carrying some new raw milk cheeses. One is Tumbleweed, an aged (8-9 months), bloomy rind cheddar produced by 5 Spoke Creamery in Port Chester, NY. Tumbleweed is made from the milk of grass-fed, pesticide-free and hormone-free cows. It is even certified kosher.

Tumbleweed is a very interesting and complex cheese. It has a creamy, nutty, sharp flavor with a slightly curdy texture. It is rare that one finds a cheese that is produced like cheddar (i.e., its curds are cut and pressed a good deal) but has a bloomy rind (i.e., a thin covering of soft, white penicilium molds.)

Most great European cheeses are made from raw milk. In America, USDA regulations require that unpasteurized cheeses be aged at least 60 days. This allows any potentially harmful bacteria either to die or at least to make itself obvious so that it can be discarded. Raw-milk cheeses are said to be richer, creamier, more buttery and more flavorful product than cheeses made from pasteurized milk.

Alan J. Glustoff, owner of 5 Spoke Creamery, says that because his grass-fed cows get to roam and pick and choose from a variety of grasses, herbs, flowers and weeds, the cheeses produced from their milk have a complexity of flavor that cannot be duplicated. Glustoff is a former dairy technologist who allegedly tired of testing yogurt and other products for big corporations. After becoming strictly kosher as an adult, he was frustrated that he could not find any kosher cheeses that were as good as the ones available to the non-kosher community. So, he decided to make his own "fantastic cheeses that just happen to be kosher."

Glustoff touts the following health benefits of raw milk cheeses:

BETTER DIGESTION: Only raw milk has the enzyme phosphataze intact which allows the body to absorb greater amounts of calcium and allows for the digestion of lactose.

STRONGER IMMUNE SYSTEM: Raw milk has all the beneficial bacteria and lactic acids found naturally in milk, which implant in the intestines and contribute to a stronger immune system.

FIGHTS ALLERGIES: Raw milk has a cortisone-like factor present in the cream, which aids in combating allergies.

THE RIGHT FATS: Grass fed, raw milk cheeses are one of the few foods that contain a perfect balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats, a ratio ideal for your health.

CANCER PROTECTION: Grass fed, raw milk cheeses are very high in conjugated linoleic acid; five times more CLA than dairy products from grain-fed cows! CLA is among the most potent cancer fighters found in all foods.

BETTER CALCIUM ABSORBTION: Raw milk is rich in colloidal minerals and enzymes, which are necessary for the absorption and utilization of the natural sugars and fats present in milk. Conversely, heated, pasteurized milk becomes precipitated with minerals that cannot be absorbed, contributing to osteoporosis, as well as sugars that cannot be properly digested and fats in a form that contributes to a buildup of unhealthy cholesterol

The folks at Murray's Cheese, which claims to be NYC's oldest and best cheese chop, suggest trying Tumbleweed in your next melting pot of fondue. Recipes from 5 Spoke Creamery involving Tumbleweed can be found here. I recommend simply trying this uniquely flavored, delicious cheese all by itself.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Taste the Season at Niagara-on-the-Lake

Taste the Season is a wine and food extrava-ganza hosted by the 18 wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake (just across the border from Buffalo on Lake Ontario). The event takes place every weekend in November (Nov. 1st & 2nd, 8th & 9th, 15th & 16th, 22nd & 23rd, and 29th & 30th) and celebrates the best tastes of the harvest season with a popular touring and tasting program.

Each winery will feature a unique wine and food pairing. A tour pass ($40), which can be purchased in advance or at any participating winery, entitles you to sample each of the delectable dishes described below and to receive a collectible holiday ornament. Proceeds from sales of this pass will go to Second Harvest to provide food for needy families. Last year Taste the Season provided enough money for 20,000 nutritious meals.

Taste the Season is a wonderful chance to explore southern Ontario in the autumn.

Features Food and Wine Pairings:
Cattail Creek Estate Winery
2006 Dry Riesling
Treadwell’s Costini topped with Beet
Cured Lake Trout and Daikon Cress
Château des Charmes
2006 Gewürztraminer, St. Davids Vineyard
Cassoulet Tart - The Classic White Bean, Smoked Pork and with Duck Confit Stew baked into a delicate crust
Coyote's Run Estate Winery
2007 Cabernet
Smoked Duck Breast with Black Paw Vineyard Cabernet Jelly on Brioche
Hillebrand Winery
Trius Vidal Icewine 2006
Icewine Roasted Fall Fruit Crumble with Chantilly Cream
Inniskillin Wines
2006 Gamay Noir
Holiday Scone with Dried Cranberries and white chocolate
Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery
2006 Proprietors' Reserve Merlot
Pulled Beef Brisket Crostini
Joseph's Estate Wines
2004 Cabernet Sauvignon
Smoked Turkey with Brie and Leek Mini Quiche
Konzelmann Estate Winery
2007 Shiraz
Specialty Aged Canadian Cheddar and Niagara Gold Quiche with Fresh Herbs Roulade
Lailey Vineyard
2006 Pinot Noir Niagara Peninsula
Turkey en Croûte with Spiced Cranberry Compote
Marynissen Estates Winery
2004 Cabernet Merlot
Macaroni Casserole with Spiced Beef and Tomato Sauce
Niagara College Teaching Winery
2007 Sauvignon Blanc Fumé
Goat's Cheese Lollipops with Local Pear Chutney
Palatine Hills Estate Winery
2007 Fumé Blanc Proprietors Reserve
Smoked Atlantic Salmon with Roasted Pear and Goat Cheese
Peller Estate
Ice Cuvée
Cured Salmon with Horseradish Crème Fraiche and Chive Blini
Pillitteri Estates Winery
2004 Riesling - Dry Chicken Terrine with Pear and Riesling Compote
Reif Estate Winery
2004 Meritage
Fricassee of Lamb with Fall Vegetables and Meritage Jus
Stonechurch Vineyards
2007 Riesling- Gewürztraminer
Smoked Salmon Tarama
Strewn Winery
2006 Terroir Chardonnay Barrel Fermented
Mushroom Terrine with Roasted Garlic and Herbs
Sunnybrook Farm Estate Winery
Spiced Mayan Walnuts

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Deco Chocolate Port

Deco Chocolate Port from Sonoma Valley Portworks is made from a blend of Californian and Australian ports and is infused with essences of bittersweet chocolate. Serious port? No. Fun port? Yes.

70% of what goes into Deco Chocolate Port is a young, fruity California port that is made from Syrah and Zinfandel grapes and is aged only 4 years. 30% of the port comes from a richer, older (8 yrs.) Southern Australian port made from Grenache and Shiraz.

Sonoma Valley Portworks claims that Deco Chocolate Port arose from an accident. They write, "In 1992, while trying to create the perfect after-dinner table wine, a dash of chocolate essence inadvertently dropped into the glass of port our winemaker was enjoying at the end of the day. One sip and he knew he had stumbled onto something extraordinary." In 1993 they introduced Duet, a California cream sherry with essences of natural hazelnut.

Sonoma Valley Portworks suggests serving Deco with Tiramisu, Crème Brule, Chocolate Cheesecake or Chocolate Dipped Biscotti. I think it would be dessert enough for me all by itself.

Deco Chocolate Port is liquid fun. Try serving it at your next dinner party.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

New York Wine & Culinary Center

The New York Wine & Culinary Center describes itself as "an educational and experiential gateway to New York State's incredible wine, food and culinary industries." The $7.5 million facility is located in Canandaigua, NY, at the north end of Canandaigua Lake, a short drive from Buffalo or Rochester.

The Center's Tasting Room features wines from all regions of New York State. Knowledgeable staff can guide you through a tasting flight of New York's delicious, complex, award-winning wines, and educate you about winemaking, wine styles and wine-producing regions.

The NY Wine & Culinary Center also features a variety of fascinating wine and food classes. You can take classes that compare NY wines with other wines of the world and classes on pairing wine and food, the basics of wine, and personal winemaking. You can take cooking classes that will teach you about cooking and baking with fall fruits, roasting, seasonal salads, old-fashioned desserts, soups, baking with NY apples, and more.

Those professionals or enthusiastic amateurs interested in a more serious educational experience can take wine and spirits courses authorized by The Wine & Spirit Education Trust, the foremost international body in the field of wines and spirits education. These multi-day classes can lead to the WSET Diploma, a stepping stone to the Master of Wine qualification. I'm definitely going to look into these courses after I get tenure.

The Exhibit Hall of the Center features seasonal video and photo displays about the rich history and unique characteristics of New York wine and food. The New York Wine & Culinary Center is a fascinating place to spend a day or evening. I encourage you to check it out, if you're in the area.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Honey Lavender Fromage Blanc

Nettle Meadow Farm's Honey Lavender Fromage Blanc is one of the most delicious cheeses I've tasted. Made from pasteurized goat milk, it is infused with the flavors of lavender flowers and honey. Their goats' diet of wild raspberry leaves, nettle, kelp, comfrey, garlic, barley and goldenrod gives this cheese many subtle and wonderful nuances.

Founded in 1990, Nettle Meadow Farm is located in Thurman, NY, just below the Adirondacks. They use only organic vegetarian rennet so that their cheeses are 100% organic and vegetarian. Their motto is "Happy Goats, Great Cheese."

In June Nettle Meadow's Honey Lavender Fromage Blanc was named a Silver Finalist in the Outstanding New Product of 2008 category of the National Association of the Specialty Food Trade's annual competition.

Fromage Blanc (or Fromage Frais) is a fresh, very soft cheese that is similar in texture to cream cheese and often used like cream cheese, only with fewer calories. For example, one can mix it with honey and spread it on toast or fruit, add it to garlic and herbs for a savory spread or simply serve it with fresh fruit. In France it is often served with fruit and sugar as a dessert. Further recipes can be found here, here and here.

I enjoyed spreading mine on a fresh slice of cinnamon bread. I guarantee you'll love it.