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.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Cheese Tuesday at L'Espalier - Climb Every Mountain: Alpine Cheese

Almost two weeks ago L'Espalier had a celebration of Alpine cheese, and I was fortunate enough to be in attendance! 
The night began with Warm Farm beets with Vermont fresh chèvre, hibiscus gelée, hazelnut, and crisps, served with 2012 Luc Massy "La Crosse". La Crosse is made from Chasselas grapes in Lavaux, Vaud, Switzerland. 
East Coast halibut was up next, with sweet corn, chanterelles, and lime. This was very similar to a previous month's offerings, and was paired with 2012 Robert Mondavi "Oakville", a Fumé Blanc from Napa, California. This was not your typical Robert Mondavi wine, and it paired perfectly with the preparation of the halibut.

For our third course, we had Giannone Farms chicken with boudin Blanc, new potato two ways and roasted pepper compote. This was paired with 2009 Francos-Espanolas "Bordon", a Reserva Rioja from Spain.

Finally, we were on to the Grand Fromage, a celebration of Alpine cheeses, paired with 2013 Vins de Vienne by Saint Joseph in Rhône, France.

Beaufort Chalet d'Alpage from Savoie, France, was up first, followed by one of my favorites, Challerhocker from Togenburg, Switzerland. Then it was on to Monte Veronese Malga, DOP, from Veneto, Italy. 

Then we were back to France for Comte St. Antoine from the Jura region. We finished up back in Switzerland for cave aged Gruyere and Etivaz, from Vaud.

After indulging in the delicious cheeses, I tuned up my guitar and we all sang "I'm a moo cow grazing in a meadow" to the tune of "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" from The Sound of Music. As a reward for my performance, the fabulous Louis Risoli treated me to the dessert Black Hole: four dimensions of chocolate with black sesame asteroids and a cranberry-orange sun.