Fresh. Slang: fashionable, cool.

The slang definition of fresh may be fashionable or cool. The actual definition is: not stale, sour, or decayed. We think both meanings apply to this fresh Asiago! If you can find it, we suggest you give it a try.

Fresh Asiago (AKA Pressato) is a totally different experience from the mature variety (Asiago d’Allevo). It’s lighter (in both taste and color), creamier, and milder than mature Asiago. The fresh variety is made from whole cow’s milk (as opposed to partially skimmed) and is aged for only 20 – 40 days (instead of 3 – 12 months +).

We decided to pair our light and creamy cheese with the 2009 Shaya Old Vines Verdejo. This Spanish wine was well-deserving of its 91 point rating. It had a pleasant aroma of citrus (particularly grapefruit and lemon) and a hint of honey. Those same notes of citrus and honey were on the palate after a slightly sweet start. It was light and bright with a nice, crisp finish. It also had a bit of creaminess that came out when paired with the fresh Asiago and…

Creminelli Wild Boar salami! We’d been wanting to try this for quite some time. You may not normally think to pair this with such a light cheese and wine, but they really did all compliment one another very nicely. The tanginess of the salami paired with the citrus notes in the wine, and its surprising creaminess went well with the fresh Asiago. This delicious salami was salty, creamy, spicy, and milder than expected.

On a side note… the juniper in the wild boar salami reminded us of gin, so we couldn’t help but pair it with a gin and tonic after finishing our cheese/salami/wine tasting. This was excellent, as well!

None of these would be “suggested” pairings for the others. But….this tasting was a great example of finding common characteristics (such as the creaminess of this cheese, salami, and wine) that become apparent as you taste them together. Let us know what your favorite “unusual pairings” are.

Fashionable, cool Asiagoo.

91 point 2009 Shaya Verdejo.

Creminelli Wild Boar Salami. A fresh pairing idea!

Creminelli Wild Boar Salami, as you'll find it in the store.

Thanksgiving with friends….10 courses of perfection!

We are so very lucky! Our wonderful friends Mark and Tammy hosted a pre-Thanksgiving gathering, and Heather and I were fortunate enough to be included. From start to finish, this amazing meal was both visually stunning and incredibly delicious. My only faux pas was that I was too busy enjoying Mahine’s shrimp (one of the fabulous appetizers) to remember to photograph it before it was devoured! If you count the cheese course served with the cocktails, it was a 10 course meal!! I will give details about the cocktails in an upcoming post, but for now, enjoy looking through the pictures below. If you have questions on the food prep, let me know and I will direct them to Chef Mark.

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving (and time with family and friends) as much as we did. And… I have to say that I am very thankful for all of my friends, followers, and readers. I appreciate all of your positive comments, and enjoy sharing our culinary adventures with you! Cheers, salud, kanpai, prost, noroc, mabuhay, a la sature, pura vida, salute, À votre santé or however you say it (one for each course)….to your health!

The menu, pre-dinner cocktails, and laarb moo.

Kevin and Tammy watching Mark cookin' the food, Vouvray white wine from the Loire valley, and miso marinated salmon with du Puy lentils and miso cream.

Start-to-finish Nantucket Bay scallops with wild mushroom confit and Leone D'Almerita Sicilian white.

Pastilla (Moroccan braised chicken pie as discovered by Mark and Tammy on their trip to Morocco) and Abad Dom Bueno Godello Spanish white.

Duck garganelli with swiss chard, walnuts and prunes complete with a flip from Mark! Hahn Pinot Noir from Monterey.

72 hour beef short ribs with parsnip purée and roast baby carrots. 2004 Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa.

Mark torching the white and dark creme brulee, which was then paired with chocolate caramel cashew ice cream and Quinta do Noval Porto. For second dessert, we were treated to warm madelaines and Mexican chocolate cookies. You can tell by our smiles that the meal was phenomenal!

11 reasons to like this post….

I couldn’t resist the post title given today’s date….11/11/11. And it’s 11:11!  Despite all that ….this truly was an awesome treat!

1. A bottle of blue agave nectar!

2. Gooey drips of agave nectar!

3. Agave nectar is roughly 1.3 times sweeter than suger, but has a lower glycemic index, and  it absorbs more slowly into your system.

4. Light and creamy ricotta cheese!

5. Gently grilled crusty baguette!

6. Wine in a blue bottle, to go with the blue agave!

7. Ricotta cheese spread with an antique spreader on the grilled baguette!

8. Don’t forget the pepper!

9. More specifically…Finger Lakes wine!

10. Swedish Hill 2009 Vidal Blanc. The wine has a little sweetness to pair with the agave nectar, and it was nice and crisp with pear and peach notes.

11. The great photos! 🙂

This was a great appetizer on a recent warm fall weekend, but would be great anytime of the year. I hope you get to try some later today, to make your 11/11/11 better. Cheers!

Grilled baguette topped with ricotta and blue agave nectar. Oh my!

Swedish Hill 2009 Vidal Blanc. Yum!

Blue agave nectar. A very sweet treat!

Longing for the French Countryside

We haven’t been to France, but this combination of wine and cheese definitely brought the French countryside into our home. We actually looked at plane ticket prices. OK….we didn’t look them up, but it did make us discuss a possible visit…someday. Pié d’Angloys is a marvelous example of a cheese that you can’t stop eating. Some friends stopped by while I was shooting this, and (once the shots were done) we finished it in under 5 minutes! Sinful. This cow’s milk cheese is creamy, buttery, mild and delicious with a touch of earth. Although the cheese is from the Burgundy region of France, and I would normally pair it with a red or white Burgundy….. I thought our trip should include the Bordeaux region as well. Thus our wine choice of Monsieur Touton. The wine was crisp, light, had a nice amount of acidity and was an excellent pairing. Bon appetit!

Pié d'Angloys, crusty bread and a French white Bordeaux.

Not only is it sinful, it comes in a cool box!

Monsieur Touton white Bordeaux wine.

The double triple!

Mellage….from the French verb meaning “to mix”. Three become one.  Cave Aged Mellage is made with a blend of sheep’s, goat’s and cow’s milk by Carr Valley Cheese. This cheese won 1st Place in its category at the 2005, 2006 and 2011 American Cheese Society competitions.  Cured in specially designed aging caves, it develops the flavor complexity of sheep’s milk cheese with the mellowness of cow’s milk, and has a slight goat finish. Its creamy texture and mild flavor went very well with the almonds and thinly-sliced pears with which we paired it.

Since the cheese is made from a blend of three milks, we decided to have it with a wine made from a blend of three varietals. The 2007 Acquagiusta Rosso is 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 30% Syrah. This full-bodied Tuscan wine has a fruity aroma (particularly of dark berries), velvety texture, flavors of black cherry and spice, and a dry finish. It was given a 92 point rating by Wine Spectator, and we could see why! This blended wine went extremely well with our blended cheese, making for a delicious snack.

Cave Aged Mellage, made from a mix of cow, sheep, and goat milk.

Mellage served with pears and almonds.

2007 Acquagiusta Rosso.

Happy Birthday, Big Poppa!

You may not know it, but that’s Rich’s nickname around here. And you also may not know that yesterday was his birthday! It was a wonderful, wacky day, despite the constant rain clouds and occasional complaints from the boys about it being the last day of summer vacation. Regardless, we made the most of it! Between showers, we even found time to fire up the grill. For his birthday dinner, Rich wanted tuna steaks, which we had with basmati rice, diced jalapeños and shitake mushrooms. As for a salad, we went totally unconventional and had watermelon topped with spring greens, queso fresco, cucumber julienne, chopped green onion, grilled tomatillo (as a sauce), sea salt & crushed pepper, and red chili olive oil. Oh, and the boys had macaroni and cheese (though two of them consented to try the tuna, and actually liked it!) We paired our tuna with a 2009 Burgans Albariño. We kind of love Spanish wine, and this was a very good one. It’s quite fruity (in a peachy/apricot way) without being overly sweet. It has a nice, crisp finish, and went beautifully with the meal. For dessert, a chocolate dome. I once made the mistake of referring to this particular dessert as a “chocolate boob” in front of the boys, and thus it shall always be known in our household. In between photo shoots, Rich found time to play Black Ops with the boys, and later, to cuddle on the couch with me. Yeah, it was a good day!

Watermelon queso fresco salad.

2009 Burgans Albariño.

Seared tuna steak...ready for its close up.

Tuna by candle light.

The chocolate, um, dome.

I want Mahón!

Nutty, smoky, earthy, deep fruit goodness. Wow, sign me up to do this post again! Spanish cheeses have always been on of my list of favorites, Mahón among them. It is a cow’s milk cheese (a rarity for Spain), that is only produced on the island of Menorca. Heather and I actually got to meet the daughters of a Menorcan cheese maker at the Disney Food and Wine Festival a couple of years ago. That was a treat and we got a personal lesson in the pronunciation of Mahón (ma-own). We had the soft, fresh version at Disney, but I found the aged version at the store the other day. They are very different, but both excellent. The aged cheese is firm, flaky and light with a nutty, woody taste. The fig almond cake (pressed dried figs with almonds) was a great match.

With the addition of a Rioja Tempranillo, your trip to taste bud heaven will commence! The Viña Zaco Tempranillo Rioja 2006 was an incredible pairing for the Mahón. It’s an earthy, slightly spicy, medium to full bodied wine, with hints of dried cherry, smoke, and maybe cloves. Did I mention it was a great pairing? I’m going back for more. Cheers!

Mahon, almond fig cake and tempranillo. Wow!

Viña Zaco Tempranillo Rioja 2006.