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., Gew├╝rztraminer, 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.