Chocolate & Cheese: A Pairing to Please All Your Senses

By Rainer Burrow

“I don’t like to be gratuitous with chocolate.  I like for it to be meaningful.”  Chef Sarah Langan explained her philosophy on cooking with chocolate to a full tent as she and her assistants gracefully whipped up a 3 course cooking demo on a beautiful Vermont summer day.  The theme for the tasting: chocolate and cheese; what 2 things are easier to love?

Chef Langan is the chef and educator at South End Kitchen in Burlington, Vermont.  South End Kitchen is a café located in Burlington Vermont owned by Lake Champlain Chocolates, a chocolate producer that has been in operation on Lake Champlain since 1983.  Lake Champlaign Chocolates is a top- quality producer, and a true gem in the state of Vermont.  The company uses local Vermont products to make their chocolates, doesn’t add preservatives or additives, are committed to sourcing non-GMO ingredients, and are champions of fair trade.  These factors combine to make high-quality chocolates, which are featured in various ways at South End Kitchen.

For the first course, Chef Langan chose to do a very simple chocolate and cheese pairing using Lake Champlain’s Blue Bandana 70% Guatemala Chocolate and Vermont Creamery’s Bonne Bouche.  Both products are beautiful and intricate on their own, married very well on the palate to completely enhance the flavor experience.  The chocolate was chalky, fruity, and initially sweet with a solid acidity.  The Cheese Was acidic and moldy, mild with a great funk presence.  Eating them together brought me back to Ratatouille swirling colors around his head as he is pairing scraps on the yard of his farm.  Together the acidity and mold went down, the fruit notes really shined through, and both products mellowed out a little bit.  It was an excellent pairing and an excellent start to the demo.

As Chef Langan segued into the second course, she introduced a reflection on how we as humans react to the five tastes (sweet sour salty bitter and umami).  She stated “When you can have all 5 tastes in one dish, you will satisfy yourself.  When your palate is missing one, you will crave more.”  It was with this philosophy in mind that she created her second course, a rustic tart consisting of arugula, pancetta crisps, Vermont Creamery’s Cremont, Fig & honey spread, lemon vinaigrette, and a chocolate emulsion all over a tart dough.  With sweet from the fig and honey, salty from the Cremont and pancetta, bitter form the arugula and chocolate, acidity from Cremont and the vinaigrette, and umami from the pancetta, it was perfectly complete.  I felt distinctly happy and satiated after consuming it.

Finally, for the third course (and dessert), Chef Langan severed a Chocolate Chevre Cheesecake.  It was a beautiful conclusion to the cooking demo: woodsy, tangy, fatty, soft, great in acidity, and rich in chocolate.  Of the three courses, this was definitely my favorite, but I have a sweet tooth and I love chocolate.

I left the tasting feeling educated, satiated, and happy to be alive.  There’s nothing better than great cheese and expert culinary execution.  If the food at South End Kitchen is anything like the tasting, it’s definitely worth a visit.

http://www.lakechamplainchocolates.com/

http://southendkitchenvt.com/

http://www.vermontcreamery.com/

 

 

 

 

Eat Cheese, Drink Summer Beers & Be Merry

By John David Ryan

 

I love beer. I drink it year ‘round. But it’s 90 degrees outside right now. I have a cabinet full of barrel-aged quads and stouts–and most of them will still be there when the leaves start to change. No one’s hammering a Founders KBS or Thirsty Dog Wulver right now. You’re drinking session ales. You’re drinking freshly hopped beer. You’re drinking plenty of pale.

But it’s prime time for cheese, too! Cows and sheep and goats across the world are eating plenty of lush, fresh, green grass. They’re turning it into creamy milk and cheese-makers are producing some of their finest products.

Let’s put the two together.

Go grab some Bijou from Vermont Creamery. Seriously. Do it right now. And while you’re out picking it up, grab a sixer of Bell’s Brewery’s Oberon. It’s the perfect summer wheat beer–not too sweet, not too spicy, and not too heavy. Or, if you want to keep it all in Vermont, maybe try some Otter Creek Fresh Slice. It complements the tangy, metallic flavors in Allison Hooper’s super creamy take on crottin. Bijou is a perfect little button of goat’s milk cheese.

Few things intimidate curd nerds like washed rind cheese. And even the most serious of hop heads can be turned off by a sour beer. Fret not! You can pair the two and simultaneously overcome your fears. Cato Corner Farm washes its Hooligan in brine until it reaches stinky orange perfection. Try it with Westbrook’s Gose or Evil Twin’s Nomader Weisse. The tart, acidic beer helps bring out the creaminess of the cheese.

Everyone loves cheddar. Everyone. If you don’t like cheddar, then you probably don’t like cute kittens, rainbows or laughing babies either. Seriously–what’s not to love about crumbly, intense cheddar? And if you want the best cheddar in the world, you’re probably going to grab Montgomery’s Clothbound English cheddar. And if you are going to pair it with beer, you’re probably going to get an IPA. And if you’re going to get an IPA, you want a hoppy, American beer. And that’s why you’re going to buy some Ithaca Flower Power or Founders’ All Day IPA.

Finally, we come to the easy drinkers. The pale ales. The pilsners. The lagers. Get you some Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale or Stillwater Classique or maybe a Pinkus Ur-Pils. Anyone can love a lighter beer, and they pair beautifully with tome-style cheeses. My current favorite is Margot. This fine Italian cheese is made by 4th generation cheese makers, and it’s washed in BEER! The hint of hops on the outside sets off the flavors of the fudgy interior.

Eat (cheese), drink and be merry.

New Curds on the Block: Cloumage from Shy Brothers Farm

One Cheese. So Many Ways to Enjoy.

Let Us Introduce You to Cloumage®.

 by Shy Brothers Farm

 

Shy Brothers Farm is so excited to be introducing Cloumage® to the customers of Murray’s cheese shops in Kroger’s supermarkets and its NYC stores. Cloumage® is a versatile creamy fresh farmstead cheese, made with our own cow’s milk in scenic, coastal Westport, Massachusetts. Our cows have the luxury of enjoying acres of acres of lush grass seasoned by the sea air. The milk produced by these happy cows produces the unique flavor you’ll experience with Cloumage®. Creamy with a little tang.

 

What’s the best way to enjoy Cloumage®? That’s a difficult question because there are just SO many. Try “as is” with a little fig jam or herbs – it’s a nice way to start and truly enjoy the flavor and texture of the cheese. From there, sky’s the limit. Chefs have been using Cloumage® in both savory and sweet dishes, from pizza and salad toppings to cheesecakes and pies. Pastry chefs have been substituting half the butter in their recipes with Cloumage® with palette pleasing results.

 

Following are a few of our favorite recipes that are perfect for this time of year – Greek Tzatziki (condiment for burgers, chicken, dipping, etc), Cloumage® & Rosemary Stuffed Dates and Spaghetti Squash with Cloumage® Pesto. We’d love to hear how you enjoy Cloumage® and welcome your feedback!

 

For more recipes and to learn more about Shy Brothers Farm and Cloumage®, we invite you to visit our website.

 

 

Greek Tzatziki

 

Ingredients:

½ English cucumber, peeled, quartered lengthwise & seeds removed

1 clove garlic, minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 cup of Cloumage®

juice of ½ lemon

1 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

 

Puree cucumber in food processor

Add garlic, Cloumage®, dill and lemon juice and pulse until smooth

Season with salt and pepper to taste

 

Use as a condiment on burgers, with chicken, pork, lamb or as a dip for veggies or chips.

 

 

Cloumage® & Rosemary Stuffed Dates

 

Makes approximately 12 stuffed dates.

 

Ingredients:

12 dates (pits removed)

1/2 cup Cloumage®

1 tsp honey

1 tsp minced fresh rosemary

pinch of smoked paprika

12 walnut pieces

 

Mix Cloumage®, honey, rosemary & paprika in a bowl.

Fill dates with Cloumage mixture.

Top each with a walnut piece

Sprinkle a little more smoked paprika on top.

 

 

Spaghetti Squash with Cloumage® Pesto

 

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

2 spaghetti squashes (or 1 lb pasta)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 cup fresh pesto

1 tub of Cloumage® (15 oz)

salt and pepper to taste

peas (optional)

 

For Spaghetti Squash:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and put halves on cookie cheese cut side up

Roast for 45 minutes or until you can easily pierce the flesh with a knife

Discard seeds and remove “spaghetti” with a fork

 

For Sauce:

Add olive oil to sauté pan over medium heat

Sauté garlic just until you can smell the garlic aroma

Warm pesto in the pan then whisk in Cloumage®

Add salt and pepper to taste

Toss spaghetti squash with sauce and peas and serve

We Love It: Goat Cheese 10 Ways

 

Goat cheese is known for its bright, fresh, and lemony flavors. During the winter I stick to stronger washed rind and Alpine style cheese, but as spring approaches I start to crave the more delicate flavors. While some goats milk cheeses might be more minerally, and others more pungent, they all pair perfectly with spring. Here are 10 of our favorite things that you can do with goat cheese:

  1. Sweeten it up: Spread VBC Chevre on baguette and top with some honey for a sweet treat.
  2. Crumble on top: Sprinkle Westfield Capri over roasted beets & top with a little coarse salt.
  3. In a quiche: Add a lightly aged goat cheese like Crottin to your next quiche for a touch of earthiness.
  4. In an omelet: Try shredded Garrotxa, spinach and some salty Jamon Serrano.
  5. Paired with bubbly: Sparkling wine goes great with a French goat cheese like Selles-Sur-Cher or Valencay.
  6. On a pizza: Top with herbed fresh goat cheese, your choice of veggies and sundried tomatoes
  7. With greens: Add flavor to an earthy Kale salad with salty Capra Sarda and some sweet dried cherries.
  8. In sauces: Make your favorite pasta primavera recipe and add fresh goat cheese like Petit Billy to the sauce for a creamy texture.
  9. Top off your soup: tangy Chevre Noir is perfect for finishing spring soups
  10. Au naturel: There’s a goat cheese for everyone, whether you love fresh flavors, feta, gouda, something peppery, blues, stinky cheese or something unusual. Try them all!

 

Boozy Dessert Idea: Beer and Ice Cream

Kevin Brooks is the resident beer geek at Murray’s Bleecker St.

Not the first thing that comes to mind, right?  Who would drop a scoop of chocolate ice cream into pint of IPA or pour a cold one onto a banana split? Garnish their Corona with an ice cream sandwich, maybe?

While I might be on to something with that last one, my point is that the pairing doesn’t exactly leap to mind. Beer goes with the steak dinner, while the ice cream is the cold treat afterwards, right? I mean it’s not like beer works with everything.

Oh, but it does.

I was first exposed to the pleasure of beer and ice cream during a visit to Weyerbacher Brewery in Easton, Pennsylvania. Their imperial stout, Old Heathen, is a punch in the mouth, full of bitter roastiness and intense coffee flavor. I was savoring my fourth sample cup when the bartender suggested pouring it over vanilla ice cream. When I indicated my surprise, she said it was even better with coffee ice cream. My wife and I couldn’t resist and as soon as we got home, we discovered that the bartender knew her stuff. The creaminess of the ice cream cut the bitterness of the beer, allowing the coffee notes to stand clearly on their own, which paired with the vanilla in the ice cream quite nicely.

Now, given the spectrum of flavors available in the brewing world coupled with the nearly limitless possibilities of ice cream flavors, what other pairings work? Surely we can do better than boring old vanilla. (not that there is anything wrong with vanilla., we’ll get to that later)

One of my favorite trends in brewing right now is the ascendance of smoked beer. Smoked porters, pilsners, straight up rauchbiers; I love them all. However, the originals are still the best, and the Schlenkerla brewery in Bamberg has been making smoked beers for hundreds of years. I just recently enjoyed their oak smoked dopplebock, Eiche, which has a milder smoky kick and a rich, chewy sweetness that just begs to be drunk.

So, when I had the pleasure of trying Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s Salted Caramel, I knew I had found a match made in heaven. Sweet, salty, smoky… not just delicious, but alliterative as well. I could also have added creamy and luscious, but that would have broken my S streak. But this sundae pairing shows how satisfying a good savory on sweet pairing can be.

That’s all well and good, I hear you say, but what about that IPA you mentioned in the beginning?

Back in my IPA post, I wrote about Southern Tier’s Oak Aged Unearthly, a shockingly strong IPA that had been de-fanged by a lengthy slumber in an oak barrel. It was the surprise of the tasting, as its lack of hop bite left behind a big, caramelly malt bomb with a solid underlying bitterness. “Pairs well with chocolate,” I wrote, perhaps foreseeing this very problem.

As with any pairing, it’s important to find something with an equally intense flavor that can stand up to the beer. How about Steve’s Brooklyn Black-Out? That sounds intense, let’s see… milk chocolate ice cream swirled with Ovenly’s chocolate stout cake pieces and dark chocolate pudding. So that’s chocolate with chocolate, with chocolate swirled in. Yeah. That sounds pretty intense. The beer and the ice cream work surprisingly well together, with the beer’s bitterness teaming up with the bitter notes of the chocolate while the heavy chocolate sweetness stands out, amplified and accented by the beer’s caramel backbone.

So there’s your IPA and ice cream sundae. Done and done.

But are sundaes the only option? There are so many other ice cream treats out there. What about that most indulgent of sweet treats, the root beer float? It already has beer right there in the name, surely there must be a way to capture that same sweet, creamy, vanilla and spice deliciousness?

The first step is finding a beer with the right flavor and the right amount of residual sweetness to pair with a melting scoop of vanilla ice cream. Left Hand Brewing’s Milk Stout is a perfect choice: The addition of lactose, a sugar that yeast cannot ingest, leaves this stout with a mellow sweetness and a creamy mouthfeel. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’ve got everything you want: An alcoholic root beer float with that fantastic melted ice cream/beer slurry. A perfect combination for those long winter nights at home.

Beer and ice cream: two great things that go great together. While hardly the obvious pick, a little experimentation will reward you with some surprising flavor combos, as well as a few raised eyebrows when you up end the beer bottle over the giant sundae you’ve just put out.

Ice cream and beer are currently available at our Bleecker location only.