Sunday, January 29, 2017

L'Espalier's 39th Anniversary Dinner

We headed back to L'Espalier for their 39th Anniversary Dinner this past Thursday. It was a fun celebration of times at L'Espalier from 1978 to now.

We began with a smoked Gouda puff and a red pepper financier. The Gouda puff was amazing and cheesy, while the financier really popped with flavor! Then it was on to the first course, pairing 2012 Vintager Chardonnay from Knights Valley in Sonoma, California with Maine lobster bisque with lemon gnocchi and cognac. This was my favorite dish of the entire evening; it was perfect.

Scottish sea trout with sorrel crème and sunchokes was up next, paired with 2014 Gassier Lou Coucardié from Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France.

Our third course was tournedos of beef à la Bourguignonne with Perigord truffle and pommes paired with 2012 XX de Château Corbin from Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux.

On to the cheese and dessert plates! I paired these with 2013 Haut Charmes, a Sauternes from Bordeaux that is just amazing. The cheese was Grey Barn Farm Bluebird, a cow's milk cheese from Chilmark, MA, served with a bit of a white chocolate treat. For dessert we were served sachertorte, raspberry coulis, and vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Cheese Tuesday Karaoke!

This past Tuesday was something special: Kevin Evers came back for a reunion tour and performed many of his greatest hits.

We began by singing "Let's Go Make Cheese" to the tune of "I Got You Babe", and then jumped into the meal. Mushroom soup with gnocchi and Winter black truffle was perfectly paired by Bob with 2013 Lou Coucardié from Costières de Nîmes in Rhône, France.

On to the next course and the next song! We sang "Cheese Tuesday" to the tune of "Free Falling" and ate pork belly, coddled quail egg, seared Nantucket Bay scallops, and sweet potato with 2015 Vigneto Isasco, a Rossese from Liguria, Italy. The peppery finish of the wine complemented the pork so well!

"Cheese Odyssey", a tribute to David Bowie's "Space Oddity", was up next, as we were served smoked roasted duck with spinach, chestnut, and foie gras jus. 2014 Ettore Germano, a Langhe Nebbiolo from Piedmont, Italy, was a wonderful pairing for the meal.

To welcome Louis' cheese selections, we sang "Stinky Cheese" to the tune of "Purple Rain". Bob paired the cheese with 10-year Broadbent, a Boal Madeira.

Up first was Harbison, a cow's milk cheese from Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, Vermont. Then we headed out West to Modesto, California, for Bandage Wrapped Cheddar, a cow's milk cheese from Fiscalini Cheese. Prufrock, a cow's milk cheese from Grey Barn Farm in Chilmark, Massachusetts, brought us back home.

My favorite, Gouda, was up next. It's a cow's milk cheese from Holland, and this one was aged five years; it tasted like candy! Moliterno al tartufo, a sheep's milk cheese with truffles from Sardinia, was up next, followed by Blue Bird, a cow's milk cheese from Grey Barn Farm. While enjoying as much cheese as was possible, we sang "Make It Cheesy" to the tune of "Take It Easy".

The night wasn't over just yet, though, as everyone called out, "Encore"! We all sang one more song: "I'm a Cheese Eater (But I'm No Monkee)", set to the tune of "I'm a Believer", and enjoyed a delicious treat from Louis Risoli.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Cheese for the Holidays - Cheese Tuesday at L'Espalier

Cheese Tuesday this past week was a wonderful mix of chef's family favorites with Lauren Dadonna's wine pairings, topped off with a cheese ball, a tasty mix of cheese favorites by Louis Risoli, and a fun ukulele serenade to the Cheeseball Wizard. 

The first course paired 2015 Mérieau "L'Arpent des Vaudons" Sauvignon Blanc from Touraine, Loire, with fried oyster and scallop salad with remoulade. Shortly after this amazing dish was served, hearty bread with both regular and pumpkin butter came out. 

Potato gnocchi with Tallegio, black pepper jus, and herbs was up next, with 2010 Giuseppe Mascarello "Scudetto" from Barbera d'Alba in Piedmont. This dish was so ridiculously good!

Things got pretty amazing when they brought out the carving equipment; they carved the roast prime rib of beef right there in the dining room! It was served with Aligot potato and caramelized onion, which was perfect, particularly the potatoes. 

We began the cheese course with a tasty cheese ball and crackers, then Louis served up his holiday favorites for the cheese plate, paired with Lauren's 15-year Solera Valdespino, an Oloroso from Pedro Ximenez in Jerez. 

Summer Snow, a sheep's milk cheese from Woodcock Farm in Weston, Vermont, was up first, followed by the only cheese I didn't recognize immediately by name, La Roche, a goat's milk cheese from Lazy Lady Farm in Westfield, Vermont. Taleggio (Arrigoni), made with cow's milk in Lombardia, Italy, completed the first half of the holiday favorites. 

Tarentaise Reserve, a cow's milk cheese from Spring Brook Farm in Reading, Vermont, began the second half of the cheese plate, followed by the always-yummy Winnimere, a cow's milk cheese from Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, Vermont. Mad River Blue, a cow's milk cheese from the Von Trapp Family Farm in Waitsfield, Vermont, finished out the plate, a nice mix of cream and spice flavor. 

After the cheese plate, I broke out my ukulele and we all rocked out to Cheeseball Wizard. Then it was on to dessert! We were served a chestnut roulade with almond streusel, pine frozen yogurt, and orange snow, as well as a smaller version of the Black Hole: four dimensions of chocolate with black sesame asteroids, and a cranberry-orange sorbet. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Cheese Tuesday at L'Espalier - Mary Had a Little Lamb: The Wide World of Sheep's Milk Cheese

This past Tuesday it was time for another fabulous dinner at L'Espalier. The theme this month was sheep's milk cheese, and I had been practicing the song of the evening, "Make it Cheesy", for a few days.

We began with a game terrine of squab, pheasant, and foie gras, served with quince and poached fig. I generally prefer the texture of pâté rather than terrine, but this was really good. The rosé, 2015 Pala "Chiaro di Stelle" from Sardinia, was amazing, too, and handpicked for the course by the Cork Dork of the evening, Nick. His wine choices left our entire table impressed all evening!

Up next was Georges Bank cod with bonito butter, hakurei turnips, and shimeji, paired with 2015 Bella's "Caldera" from Falaghina, Campania.

We were then onto the sweet and sour roasted duck with apple and parsnip, some of my favorite fall flavors. It was paired perfectly with the very fruity 2012 D. Ventura "Viña Caniero" from Riberia Sacra, Galicia.

Mary had a little lamb was the theme of the Grand Fromage, and all of these amazing sheep's milk cheeses were paired with a tasty port, 15-year Valdespino "Isabela", an Oloroso from Pedro Ximenez in Jerez.

Louis' cheese plate really shined this month! We began with Odre from Can Pujol in Catalan, Spain, which was my favorite, and then went on to San Andreas from Bellwether Farms in Sonoma, California. After that, we stayed with the more firm style seen here in Paglierino from Casa Madaio in Campania, Italy, and Erraizabal Idiazabal from the Basque region of Spain.

Pico Melero from Duero, Spain, was next, followed by Torta de Barros from Extremadura, Spain. Cheese Guy Louis Risoli finished the plate with two big blues: Ewe's Blue by Old Chatham Sheepherding Company in Chatham, New York, and Roquefort by Papillon Black Label in Rouerge, France.

Shortly thereafter it was time for me to grab my guitar and my cheese band. We rocked out as the room sang along to "Make It Cheesy". Then we finished the evening by accepting our payment- two delicious desserts to share! We tried the spiced torte with cranberry cream cheese mousse and rosemary roasted apple ice cream and the Black Hole: four dimensions of chocolate with black sesame asteroids and a cranberry-orange sun.