L'Espalier - Cheese Tuesday - Italian Sunshine
With all the snow going on here, I couldn't resist a Cheese Tuesday with the theme of Italian Sunshine.
Given that it was a snowy and miserable evening, I wanted to start off with something excellent. I figured going with a tea-based cocktail would be the best way to go, so I ordered the Green Tea Gimlet, made of Beefeater 24 Gin infused with lemongrass and green tea, lime, and basil simple. It was ridiculously smooth and perfect. Pretzel bread and rolls came out shortly after the gin, and I can't say enough about how much I love the pretzel bread. So good.
The first course paired 2012 Tenuta di Pietra Porzia, made by Frascati Superiore in Lazio, Italy, with East coast striped bass crudo with poached kumquat, fennel and frisée salad.
The second course was by far the best of the night: Hunter's Bolognese with house pappardelle and a squab liver crostini. This was my first time having squab liver, and it was pretty awesome. It was paired with 2011 Travaglini Nebbiolo from Costa della Sesia in Piedmont, Italy. I've had Nebbiolo at a few different food events lately, and it's a wine I've come to appreciate, even though I never used to consider myself a fan of red wines.
Roasted Maine beef tenderloin with Fontina Val d'Aosta fonduta and foraged mushrooms was paired with 2008 Masciarelli "Marina Cvetic", a Montepulciano wine from Abruzzo, Italy. This was another wonderful pairing.
The Italian Sunshine cheese course was paired with 2007 Capanna, Moscadello di Montalcino, a a wine made from white muscat grapes in Montalcino, Italy.
Cima Rosa was up first, a cow's milk cheese made by Eros Burrati in Piemonte, Italy. It was followed by the excellent Robiola in Folie di Castagno, made from goat and sheep's milk by La Casera, also in Piemonte. All of the cheeses featured tonight are from Italy, and they definitely brought some sunshine to my night.
Palagalaccio Bianco was up next, a cheese made by Fattoria Palagalaccio in Mugello, Toscana. The amazing Taleggio Riserva followed, a cow's milk cheese made by Taddei in Lombardia.
Halfway through the cheese plate I reached the Pecorino Senesi Riserva, a sheep's milk cheese made by Guido Pinzani in Toscana. It's so wonderfully savory that it overshadowed the Caciocavallo following it by just a bit. The Caciocavallo is a cow's milk cheese made by La Roccolano in Molise.
Fontina Val d'Aosta was up next, a cow's milk cheese from Val d'Aosta. This cheese was made by Duclos, and was used in the third course, with the tenderloin. I'm not sure when I liked it more- it was great both ways. A tasty goat cheese was up next, Sola di Capra, made by La Casera in Piemonte.
Finishing up the cheese plate was the sweet Gorgonzola Dolce, made by Palzola in Lombardia, after which I ordered a pot of the L'Espalier Anniversary Blend tea, which made for a wonderful, relaxing end to the evening.