Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chef's Cheese Degustation: course nine

We turn our attention to dessert, as we continue our review of the recently created orenji Chef's Cheese Degustation-- a chef's tasting menu highlighting a different cheese in every course.

Course nine brought us one of our favorite cheese courses-- inspired by a trip to Charlie Trotter's restaurant in Chicago nearly a decade ago (but, of course, with a significant orenji twist!) We started with earthy porcini mushroom crepes-- crepes made from dried porcini mushrooms, and cooked until slightly crispy. The crepes are then filled with one of our favorite cheese-- Explorateur (Ile-de-France), a smooth, white, triple cream cow's milk cheese which is mold ripened until a lovely astringent and acidic taste permeates the melt-in-your-mouth cheese! Warmed ever so slightly, the cheese oozes from the crepes, the acidity and earthiness of the crepes calling out for a sweet foil!

And sweet we give! A coulis of Medjool dates, slow-stewed with aromatic spices and port wine create a sweet and rich sauce for our light and creamy crepes. For temperature contrast, we further served a homemade ice cream-- infused with vanilla and pink salt from the Murray River in Australia. This pink salt ice cream-- simultaneously sweet and salty-- perfectly complemented the dates and cheese, the salt enhancing both the sweetness and the acidity.

Lastly, for textural contrast, as well as for a stunning visual, we serve a "shard" of burnt sugar glass with grains of paradise and smoked sea salt. The crisp texture, coupled with the smokiness of the salt and the sweet peppery spice of the grains of paradise (an African seed with taste closely resembling cardamom and pepper) create a perfect finishing touch to a decadent, but balanced, dessert course... not too sweet, not too acidic, not too salty... guests were definitely left wanting more!

With all of our courses, we also selected a wine to accompany the food. In this case, as we were "building" to a culinary climax, we opted for a robust Bordeaux (Chateaux de Terrefort-Quancard, Bordeaux Superieur, Bordeaux, France, 2005). The fruit from the dates and the smokiness of the sea salt perfectly drew out the base flavors of this "big red." All in all, a magical course!

In our next post, the "real" dessert course. But how will we incorporate the cheese? Be sure to check back!

No comments: