Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chef's Cheese Degustation: course one

We continue our review of orenji's recently created Chef's Cheese Degustation Menu by turning our attention to the first course. This course was visually challenging-- a juxtaposition of French flavors with Japanese influence and presentation... fusion at it's most interesting!

We began with a savory "cheesecake" of dried Turkish apricots and white Stilton cheese (Nottinghamshire, England). This cheese belongs to the "blue" cheese family (despite it's lack of color, in this case). Unpressed, and made from pasteurized cow's milk, the cheese is injected with veins of mold which create the unique appearance and classic pungent, acidic flavor. Coupled with the sweetness of the apricots, the cheese creates a delightfully balanced and round flavor, creamy from the traditional cheesecake preparation.

We cut the cheesecake into delicious bite-sized rounds, which were rolled in toasted rice and nori seaweed, presentation resembling sushi. Accompanied by a light salad of baby rocket with caramelized pistachios and toasted sesame seeds for textural contrast, a sesame and apricot gastrique provided the light, bright flavors of fresh fruit and vinegar. To finish the dish, a slice of lotus root, pickled with hibiscus flowers, was both palate-cleansing and beautiful.

Accompanying this course, our first course, was one of our favorite wines here at orenji-- Ironstone Vineyards, Symphony "Obsession," (California, 2006). This light, sweet wine pressed from the Symphony grape, is redolent with citrus and floral highnotes. The floral nature of the wine was the perfect accompaniment to the fresh fruit and acidic cheese, complimenting the food and rounding out the course.

In our next post, the orenji take on Caesar salad, re-imagined (of course) to focus on the cheese. Check back, won't you?

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