Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chef's Cheese Degustation: amuse bouche

We begin our review of our recent Chef's Cheese Degustation with our amuse bouche course. The amuse bouche is considered the "prologue" to any good meal-- small bites which whet the appetite, awaken the taste buds, and prepare the diner for fine cuisine. In conceptualizing our menu, we opted to being with a flight of small bites, each presented in its own hand-crafted Japanese dish-- this allowed the flavors to remain separate, while enhancing the beauty of the presentation.

Starting from the left, our first small bite began with a baby squid, slow-braised in Spanish white wine, aromatics, and smoked paprika. Tender and smokey, we paired the squid with Manchego Campana, Curado (La Mancha, Spain)- a semi-firm, cave-aged (6 months minimum) sheep's milk cheese. The creamy nuttiness was complimented with roasted Marcona almonds and finished with a sweet and acidic quince gastrique.

Second from left, our second small bite highlighted fresh sheep's milk ricotta cheese-- Ricotta Romana di Pecora, Fresca (Lazio, Italy). This soft, pressed yellow cow's milk cheese was creamy and acidic, and unlike the processed ricotta available in most supermarkets. With the cheese, we paired a salty green olive tapenade and a sweet golden raisin water, drawing out both the natural salt and sugar in the cheese. For texture, a toasted black walnut, playing to the cheese's acidity, finished the dish.

Third from the left, a fresh locally-grown Black Mission fig was paired with organic wildflower honey and Brillat Savarin (Normandy, France) cheese-- soft, white-crusted triple cream cow's milk cheese aged for 2-4 weeks. This exceptionally smooth and acidic cheese was complemented by the sweetness of the fruit and honey, and texturally challenged by a fresh rye bread crisp dusted with smoked sea salt. An edible flower salad, tossed with a light and fruity extra virgin olive oil finished the dish, adding a floral and herbal note, echoed by the wildflower honey.

Our last amuse bouche married sweet, caramelized slow roasted red and golden beets with Bucheron (Loire Valley, France)-- a soft, mold-ripened goat's milk cheese aged for 5 - 10 weeks. A vinaigrette of beets and chiffonade of beet greens added both acid and bitterness to the sweet beets and creamy cheese, creating a lasting impression.
For most of the courses served, we also selected a wine pairing. For the amuse, we selected an Italian Lambrusco-- red and slightly sparkling (Albina Canali, Ottocentonero, Lambrusco Dell-Emilia, Tipica, Italy). The sweet yeastiness of the wine, coupled with its sparkling quality helped to cleanse our guests' palates, allowing them to freshly experience each of the unique tastes presented in sequence.
In our next post, we continue our coverage of our Chef's Cheese Degustation with a savory cheesecake. You don't want to miss this...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!