Saturday, May 23, 2009

Chef's Cheese Degustation: course four

Perhaps our favorite course of orenji's recently created Chef's Cheese Degustation was course four: "soup and sandwich." Inspired by the playfully whimsical American chef, Thomas Keller, this course combined the "star quality" of English cheddar cheese with locally grown heirloom tomatoes-- one of our favorite ingredients to work with!

We decided to highlight the tomatoes with two preparations-- each light and acidic-- to counter the richness buttery grilled cheese sandwich! Starting at the left, a light (yet concentrated) consommé of locally grown heirloom pearl tomatoes created the "soup" in our "soup and sandwich." This tomato water consommé is the purest and cleanest manner in which to present tomatoes-- each sip like biting into a ripe, fresh fruit. Peeled pearl tomatoes added a beautifully colorful accent to the smooth broth.

Moving across the plate, we find an heirloom tomato sorbet, again concentrating the delicious acidic flavors of the tomato, but serving it with a contrast in both texture and temperature-- Chilled consommé, frozen sorbet, and sandwich hot off the grill! The sorbet (made from Brandywine and Jubilee tomatoes) was accompanied by a tart slice of Green Zebra.

Lastly, on the far right, the star ingredient of the course-- Cheddar, Westcounty Farmhouse (Somerset, England). This pale yellow, cow's milk cheese (aged a minimum of six months in natural caves) was the perfect foil for the acidic tomatoes. Grilled on freshly baked brioche, with just a hint of duck fat, the crisp bread and melted cheese were an adult's perfect version of the childhood favorite. To complete the course, a pile of butter-fried parsnip chips lightly dusted with sea salt accompanied the sandwich.

Of course, no course is complete without the wine! We choose one of our favorite bottles: Cambria, “Katherine’s Vineyard” Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, California, 2005. Rich and oaky, but balanced with fruit and acid (just like this course was, we would like to think), the chardonnay was a perfect match!

In our next post, Spanish cheese and duck confit... We're just crazy enough to try it! Come back and see how it turned out!

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