Posts Filed Under The ‘Stella Royale’ Category

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Merlot, no Wallflower

Merlot had been largely relegated to the role of blending partner for Cabernet Sauvignon, even though it is the most widely planted varietal in France today. The varietal suffered from an identity crisis for many years, and it still does, to an extent. California has been planting more Merlot lately, to the point that it will soon be one of the largest growing regions in the world for this varietal. Notable successes of varying weights are coming from Napa alone.

As with most grapes, the Merlot has its unique demands from its growing regions, or you could say that it yields different styles depending on the qualities of the terroir where it is grown as well as the goal of the wine maker. This is why lighter Merlots pair a little better with some cheeses and the bigger Merlots line up a little better with others. Regardless of the resulting styles, Merlot in all its dimensions marries very well with many cheese types and it clashes badly with only a few. That being said, Merlot should not be taken lightly, even though it has a “light” red wine reputation. When the rare cheese clashes occur with Merlot it is important that we do not “blame” the cheese. The wine may be delicious and the cheese may be delicious but sometimes they do not get along. Like a great guy and a great gal, they are simply not compatible. People can easily blame the cheese. This is one reason why it helps to first assess cheeses and wines on their own.

Merlot is no pushover. The grape should not be taken for granted. Looking over our cheese pairings we find that 100% goat milk cheeses do not make the Merlot cut, though there are a few cheeses with some goat milk in the mix that pair okay. It would be interesting to see if the “no-goat” cohort among cheese lovers might also be Merlot fans. The blues can also challenge the Merlots somewhat. The elevated butyric acids in blues are part of the problem. Merlot wines are not noted for their acidity – sufficient acid to harmonize with the acid levels in most blues. The more fruit-forward Merlots can match some of the mellower blues nicely but even those matches are rare. On the other end of the pH scale, the thistle rennet sheep cheeses do not balance the Merlots so well; those cheeses (Serpa, Torta del Casar, Azeitão, Serena, etc.) have a little bitter note which the Merlots do not. This suggests that Merlots pair better with the cheeses that are more middle-of-the-road on the pH scale. Relative acidities influence the success of cheese and wine pairings.

The traditional rennet sheep cheeses such as the Ossau Iraty, Pecorino Sardo DOP, Abbaye de Belloc, Idiazábal and Royale; all of these make excellent partners for the Merlots. Bloomy rind cheeses such as Lillé and Chaource, cheese types that can be especially challenging to other wines can pair nicely with the Merlots. Among the cow cheeses, some of the wash-rind cheeses can pair well with this varietal, Dorset among them. The basic pressed and cheddar-style cow cheeses make good candidates for Merlot: Windsordale, Cantalet, Brazos Cheddar, Le Moulis, and Tomme de Savoie (another cheese that can be challenging with many wines). The huge-flavored 4 yr. old Gouda and Roomano dissolve nicely with Merlot, tyrosine crystals and all; as well as most of the Alpine styles: Comté, Appenzeller, Hoch Ybrig, Gruyère and Scharfe Maxx. It is interesting to note that Merlot is one of the few successful red varietals grown in Switzerland. Then there is the majestic Sbrinz; that cheese gets along with most wines, reds and whites.

If you happen to find a little Merlot left in your glass at the end of your meal, try a couple of these cheeses alongside it. The finish will be memorable.

Max McCalman

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

Original post at www.BigAppleNosh.com

Reprinted here in its entirety with permission.

Thanks Serena!

Artisanal 11 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

I am so excited to share these photos with you! My sister got me a 3-month subscription to Artisanal‘s Cheese of the Month Club for my birthday. My first delivery arrived in July, and I am just giddy with excitement! Cheese is my favorite food in the world (even more than dessert, can you imagine?) – if I could only have one food for the rest of my life, I would choose cheese. I would never tire from the variety of textures, aromas, and flavor profiles; I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like! As a restaurant devoted entirely to cheese, Artisanal is one of my favorite places to dine in the city. But enough about me, let’s get on with the CHEESE!

Oh, the goodness that was waiting inside this box was tantalizing:

Artisanal 1 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

I opened up the package, and packed in an insulated bag were four odoriferous bundles of heaven:

Artisanal 2 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

Also included was a “Cheese Clock” which provided “essential wisdom for selecting, presenting and enjoying Artisanal Premium Cheese!” – well, if there’s any type of wisdom I like it’s cheese wisdom:

Artisanal 3 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

Finally, Artisanal included a detailed description of each cheese with suggested wine pairings and flavor notes:

Artisanal 4 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

While this blog unfortunately doesn’t have taste-o-vision, below are photos of each cheese, as well as the included description in the notes. First off, Robiola Nostrano (Mild):

Artisanal 5 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

“The Robiola Nostrano is produced by Stagionatura Guffanti in northwest Italy. The cheese tastes a little like a Brie but it delivers a luscious flavor that you do not find in the bries we have available to us in the US. The soft unctuous texture is especially pleasing. The rind allows for good air exchange that enhances the overall quality of the cheese. This version is made with all cows’ milk, though occasionally they have one available that has other milks added. The Robiola Nostrano is not a cheese that you will have to worry about having any leftovers; they are so delicious that they are invariable finished properly.”

The texture of this cheese is rich, creamy and luxurious on the tongue. The taste is mild, hence the recommendation to start with this cheese, and what a delightful start it is!

In the Medium category, we have Stella Royale:

Artisanal 6 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

“Stella Royale is a traditional style of pressed sheep milk cheese from northwest Spain. The milk for this especially nutritious cheese comes from the Churra breed, a native of the region that is able to thrive throughout the extremes of the seasons. The high quality milk produces a cheese with a full-flavored nutty flavor that lingers luxuriously on the palate.”

The Stella holds its own with a drier, slightly crumbly texture and just the lightest hint of a bite. I especially enjoyed it with the tiniest nibble of fig cake – the sweet and salty juxtaposition was very satisfying!

The Bold selection was Tomme Fermiere d’ Alsace:

Artisanal 7 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

“Tomme Fermiere d’Alsace is a firm, washed-rind (smear) cow’s milk cheese made in the Alsace region of France. We receive this cheese into our caves and continue the maturing process for an additional two to four months, washing each wheel several times with a light Alsatian wine. This dramatically accentuates the lactic flavors and develops long, fruity notes with hints of mushrooms, grass and butter.”

Unlike the Robiola, this cheese has a firmer, more robust texture – however, it is just as creamy and buttery. I tasted notes of the wine wash on the Tomme Fermiere d’Alsace, which I especially appreciated. Heavenly!

To round off the plate, we finish with a Strong selection, the Bleu d’Auvergne:

Artisanal 9 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

“Bleu d’ Auvergne is a name-protected (Denomination Origine Protected, DOP) cheese from the Auvergne region in south-central France, where it has been made since the middle of the 19th century. Bleu d’Auvergne is made in the traditional manner from cow’s milk and features blue veining throughout. Its moist, sticky rind conceals a soft paste possessing a grassy, herbaceous and (with age) spicy, pungent taste. Here at the Artisanal Premium Center, we allow this cheese to drain until it reaches the creamy consistency we desire. Bleu d’Auvergne pairs well with Alsatian Rieslings and classic dessert wines such as a Sauternes.”

I said I wouldn’t name favorites, but that was before I met Bleu d’Auvergne – if you love blues, you will LOVE this cheese; I sure did! Suuuper creamy, tangy and very “spicy,” this was the perfect specimen of a blue. I dare you to find a better one, I dare you!

And below is a group photo, arranged as suggested by the Cheese Clock guide! Yummmm:

Artisanal 10 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

I’m waiting for my sister to enjoy the cheese with me this coming weekend, but as you can tell from my descriptions, I’ve sampled a small portion of each – and they are gooooood. I can’t wait to try a heartier portion of each variety this weekend, but my favorite thus far is the Bleu d’Auvergne (couldn’t you tell? haha) – its juxtaposition of creamy texture and tangy bite is heavenly. I’m a lucky girl! I think this may be my favorite “thing-of-the-month” I’ve ever encountered. Now if only there were lifetime subscriptions…

What is your favorite type of cheese?

Serena
bigapplenosh.com

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Pilsner Picks Cow

Originally Posted at BrewingSomeFun.com

We may consider Pilsners to be on the light side of the beer spectrum but this does not mean they should be taken lightly. When it comes to pairing them with cheeses the Pilsners can hold their own with some of the big guns, stinky cheeses included.

cow 1 Pilsner Picks Cow

The water used to produce the best Pilsners is softened; this helps give them clarity and it allows the hop aromas and flavors to come forth. These distinct aromas and flavors is what give Pilsners their heft, while the alcohol contents of most of them remain moderate. This hop-forwardness of Pilsners can present pairing challenges to some of the milder goat cheeses, whereas other less flavorful lagers can meld pretty well with that family of cheese types.

Not to over-analyze it but we want to mindful of the potential for mismatches, particularly when they occur with goat cheeses. The goat cheeses can clash with some beverage partners, while on the other hand, the good goat cheese matches can be sublime. When the clashes do occur we just want to make sure that we don’t blame the goat! Goat cheeses have been much-maligned long enough. As I have noted over the years, the first no-no I get from people contemplating a selection of cheeses is the avoidance of goat.

The second no-no we hear when people select their cheeses is to skip the blues; almost as many people shy away from the blue cheeses as those that skip the goats. On the blue (strong) end of the cheese spectrum is where the Pilsners may also falter. For most cheese categories in between these two bookend cheese types, the milder goats and the big bad blues, Pilsners perform admirably. To savor the finer qualities in a Pilsner you may want to skip over the blues.

If we skip the mild young goat cheeses and the blues (but do not entirely write either of them off) we can find a broad grouping of cheeses that are Pilsner friendly: most cows, some sheep cheeses (which tend to be versatile with more beverages anyway) and some mixed milk cheeses. The pressed sheep milk cheeses such as the Bianco Sardo, Ossau Iraty, or Stella Royale have their own full aromas that can balance the aromas in the Pilsners.

The wash-rind cow cheeses pair especially well with the Pilsners, younger to older. The meaty aromas in the cheeses provide the balance to the beers. This should be no surprise since these cheese types have long been produced in the regions where the Pilsners first flourished:Czechoslovakia and Germany. When you are enjoying some of these stalwart cheese types, you may look for something refreshing in your beverage as a counterpoint, like a Pilsner. Of the more aged ones, try the Andeerer Schmuggler, the Appenzeller, the Hittisau, the Prattigauer, and the Uplands Pleasant Ridge. For the younger, stinkier cow cheeses, try the Abbaye de Tamié or the Edwin’s Munster.

There are a couple of other cow cheese categories that fit the bill: the cheddar types and the cooked curd or Gouda types. The success with the Pilsners can be attributed to the “sharpness” in those cheeses: the acid, the salt, as well as the texture. When you have all these pronounced qualities in cheeses a chilled Pilsner can be just the ticket. The Gouda, 4 y.o.; the Roomano; the Terraluna or the Quicke’s Cheddar; any of these leave a happy ending in the mouth and tummy.