Cheese Tuesday at L'Espalier - No Cows Allowed
Cheese Tuesday this month went with the theme No Cows Allowed! All the cheeses used over the course of this excellent dinner were from buffalo, goat, or sheep's milk. Cheeses made from goat's milk tend to be my favorite anyways, so I knew I was in for a treat.
Dinner began by sitting down at a gorgeously set table. The pretzel bread came quickly, along with a warm roll and some whipped butter.
The flavors of the first course perfectly embodied springtime. We began with Apple Street Farm pea tendrils with a 62*C egg, ostrich fern, and garden sorrel juice. It was paired well with 2012 Hiedler, "Löss", a Grüner Veltliner from Oesterreich.
The second course was roasted white asparagus with Maryland striped bass, blue spruce needles, compressed lovage, and bergamot orange nage. The 2012 Dowsett Family "Celilo Vineyard", made in Columbia Gorge, Washington, was not impressive to me at first, but when it was paired with the food it took on new characteristics, and this wound up being one of the better fish dishes I've had.
On to the main course: Long Island duck breast, carrot-cardamom purée, carrot foam, pickled beets, and citrus salad. It was ridiculously good, and was paired with a great rosé: 2013 Serge Laloue, from Sancerre.
And finally, the cheese course, which was paired with 2009 Brandbourg, a Pinot Noir from Umpqua, Oregon. The cheeses were ordered by the type of milk used, first buffalo, then goat, then sheep.
There was only one water buffalo cheese, Quadrello di Bufala from Lombardy, Italy. It was nice, but Valençay, a goat's milk cheese from the Loire Valley of France, was up next, and it is one of the best goat cheeses out there.
The next two cheeses were both cheeses I've had before. Eleven Brothers, a goat's milk cheese from Boston Post Farm in Enosburg Falls, Vermont, was first, followed by Bonne Bouche, a goat's milk cheese from Vermont Creamery in Websterville, Vermont. Bonne Bouche is one of my most favorite cheeses, so it was great to see it on the cheese plate.
The Thin Red Line was the last goat's milk cheese. It was made at Lazy Lady Farm in Westfield, Vermont. Simply Sheep began the sheep's milk portion of the plate. It was great, with a mix of flavors in different parts of the cheese. Simply Sheep was made at Nettle Meadow Farm in Thurman, New York.
Pecorino derives from the Italian word pecora, meaning sheep. Pecorino Ginepro is a sheep's milk cheese made with juniper in Emilia Romagna, Italy, and it is really tasty. Possibly even better, though, was the Cacio di Bosco, a sheep's milk cheese made with white truffle in Tuscany, Italy.
Finishing off the night were some powerful cheeses. Coomersdale was first, from Bonnie View Farm in Craftsbury, Vermont, followed by the classic (and delicious) Roquefort, made by Societé in Auvergne, France.