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Perfect Pairings

  • Valentine's Day Pairing!

    In honor of the day of St. Valentine...

    WHOSE MIRACLES INCLUDE HAVING A BEATING HEART MADE OF PURE CHOCOLATE

    ...WE HAVE A TRIO OF DELIGHTS COMING TOGETHER THIS WEEK

    PralusThe Chocolate:

    First we have the Pralus Republique Dominicaine, a 75% cacao dark chocolate bar from one of France’s most respected chocolatiers. This bar combines the culinary expertise of one of France’s chocolate leaders, some of the finest cacao beans on the planet and an exclusive plantation and manufacturing plant. Pralus is one of only a handful of chocolate producers who roast their own beans and who have complete control over the process of converting raw beans (regardless of origin) into the bars on our shelves. Francois Pralus describes this bar as “woody, powerful, and slightly sharp.” I also get a lot of raw herb flavors like sage and basil.

    The Cheesecabot

    Cabot Clothbound is from Cabot Creamery, one of the oldest cheddar producers in the United States. It is aged in the cellars at Jasper Hill for a minimum of 10 months. Made in the English tradition, the infant wheels are wrapped in muslin and brushed with lard before the being lovingly cared for and monitored for the better part of a year. The flavor is at once sharp and buttery, clean and grassy, and just a little sweet.

    Bonarda FrizzanteThe Wine:

    Handpicked, well matured grapes are macerated for 6 days before a double fermentation process. The second fermentation in stainless steel vats produces the bubbles. This is a dry, bubbly red that just sweeps the surface of sweetness. Cocoa, leather, and tannins give rise to pleasant dark berry and fig notes that give this wine depth. The bubbles are fantastic, creating beautiful pink foam and adding an altogether unexpected element to a great wine.

    The Pairing:

    Nothing here does what I would have expected, but they work together beautifully. The wine plays the sweet note, and is very light on the palette in relation to the other two players. The chocolate provides a grounding earthiness, and the cheese is salty and active, bridging the flavors between all three components. I tasted a lot of herbal and wood flavors like lemongrass and soft cherry wood. The chocolate becomes something else entirely in the presence of the cheese and wine, gleaming with naughty, leathery darkness. Likewise, the dry and complex winebecomes sweet and playful. Only the Cabot is even remotely predictable. Smooth, salty cheese, impossibly complex and faceted chocolate and utterly unique red wine is a three-way you don’t want to miss out on this Valentine’s Day!

  • Pairing of the Week: Pleasant Ridge Reserve and Brekle's Brown

    This week is Midwest Cheese week. Let's celebrate all that is great about living so close to Wisconsin. To celebrate the annually anticipated arrival of Rush Creek Reserve, this week's pairing features Uplands' other fantastic product: Pleasant Ridge Reserve.

    THE CHEESE

    Name: Pleasant Ridge Reserve

    Producer: Uplands Cheese Co.
    Cheesemaker: Andy Hatch
    Region: Dodgeville, WI
    Milk: Raw Cow (genetic mix of 9 different breeds)
    Rennet: Animal
    Affinage: 13 months

    This cheese was first introduced in 2000 and is modeled after the French cheese Beaufort. This cheese holds the distinction of having been named Best in Show from the American Cheese Society three times: 2001, 2005, and 2010. At Pastoral, we are lucky to have a close relationship with Uplands Cheese Company which allows us to hand select the batch of Pleasant Ridge Reserve that we carry in our store. The batch that we selected back in June ended up winning best in class at this year's ACS competition.

    The last of those wheels currently reside at Pastoral. After this week we'll be moving on to batch 127 with a make date of September 19, 2011. Because the cows would have been grazing on two very distinct sections of pasture. There is no better way to illustrate how a varied diet for the cows translates into separate and distinct flavor profiles in the cheese than to taste some of the cheese we have currently and then some of the new wheels once they are put into the case.

    Pleasant Ridge Reserve is made from raw milk and is made seasonally, generally May through October, when the cows are grazing 100% of the time on pasture. The folks at Uplands are so passionate and fanatical about the quality of their milk that they won't make cheese if the pastures are unhealthy. We saw a prime example of this when they ceased production this year for several weeks due to the drought (ie. terrible pasture conditions). Once the milk has set, the curds are cut, heated and stirred until they are about the size of a tapioca pearl. Once the whey is drained, the curds are pressed and cut again into larger blocks. These blocks fill the forms that will ultimately give PRR its shape. Depending on pasture conditions (and therefore milk yield), 72 or 78 wheels are made each day during peak production.

    Once the newly formed cheeses are moved into the ripening rooms, they are washed with a brine solution to promote the growth of B. Linens. This gives the cheese that distinctive color and aroma and is the same bacterium that colonizes Taleggio, Grayson, Hooligan, etc.

    THE BEER

    Producer: Anchor Brewing Co
    Bottle: Brekle's Brown
    Style: American Brown Ale
    ABV: 6% ABV

    Take your hop off and enjoy this malty brew perfect for the season. At the behest of David Buchanan, we are serving up this great brown ale for our pairing of the week this week. Named after Gotlieb Brekle, this brown gives us all malt. Caramel, nuts and perhaps straw all show up in the finish of this beer from a brewery that dates back to 1871.

    There is of course some hop component to this beer. Citra is the name of the hop and if you have paid any attention to the hop obsessed beer press, you will recognize the name. Citra is a hybrid hop that can be used for both aroma and bittering. It was created just 5 years ago and has such bright fruity qualities that brewers singing its praises.

    A real dorky exercise would be to try the Sixpoint Bengali Tiger IPA, Sixpoint Autumnation Pumpkin Beer, and Brekle's Brown. Three styles, one hop.

    Happy Pairing!

  • Saving the World...With Cheese?

    This week Pastoral is hosting the folks from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. for tastings and featuring Point Reyes Toma paired with Tensley Blanc (65% Grenache Blanc/ 35% Roussanne). This occasion presents itself as an opportunity to feature a sustainable, top-notch farmstead creamery. Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese uses the dairy of its 300 heads of cattle to produce award-winning cheeses, from the Point Reyes blue to their take on an Italian classic, Toma.

    point reyes 4

    (Picture courtesy of pointreyescheese.compointreyescheese.com/farm/the_land)

    What sets this creamery apart, however, is not the pastured milk in the production of their cheese or their small-batch philosophy. Point Reyes Farmstead Creamery is re-imagining what it means to be a responsible, organic creamery. They are converting the energy in their cow’s waste by way of an anaerobic digester.

    St-Anthony-Farm-Digester-sm

    (Picture of a covered lagoon digester, courtesy of epa.gov/region9/ag/dairy/tech/energy.html)

    This digester works to produce methane (biogas) in the absence of oxygen. Not only does the digester create energy (about $10,000 worth a month!), but it prevents the methane from escaping into the atmosphere, where it acts as a greenhouse gas. Point Reyes is acting within a larger context of increasing attention to biogas production not only in California, but in the world.

    As a result of the energy black-outs in California in 2001, the California Energy Commission enacted legislation to “encourage the development of biologically based anaerobic digestion and gasification (“biogas”) electricity generation projects on California dairies” . This ten million dollar program includes a matching donation to participating dairies that build digesters. For more information on how biogas production is becoming a worldwide phenomenon, follow the link below. Stop by our cheese counter and taste the future of sustainable dairy agriculture!

    Further Reading:
    Biogas Bonanza for Third World Development

    Pat Huber is a cheesemonger at Pastoral's Loop location. Hailing from the home of Tennessee Williams and the world-renowned lyricist Nelly, this southpaw cheese monger is a lover of all things wild and raw.

  • Pairing of the Week: Black Sheep and Illahe Viognier

    This week's pairing highlights an ACS award winner from our own backyard.

    photo 4

    The Cheese

    Black Sheep

    Producer: Prairie Fruits Farm

    Milk: Sheep
    Type: Ash-ripened (Geotrichum rind)

    Congratulations to Leslie, Nat and Alison for their first place ribbon at ACS! Black Sheep won a blue ribbon in the Soft Ripened Open Category - Sheep or Mixed Milk.

    Black Sheep is quite similar to Black Goat so we'll keep the write up short and sweet. The surface of the cheese is coated with a salt-ash mixture the day after it is hand ladled into the forms. The ash serves to neutralize the acidity of the cheese which results in a slightly more mellow and buttery finish on the palate.

    The Wine

    Illahe Vineyards' Viognier

    Producer: Illahe Vineyards
    Bottle: 2011 Viognier
    Grape: 100% Viognier
    Origin: WIllamette, Oregon
    Farming: Biodynamic/Organic

    Just 300 cases of this astonishing Viognier were produced from the horse-tilled vineyard of Illahe. We are very fortunate to have a small amount of this wine. Viognier can be a lot of things both good and bad. The grape traditionally finds its home in southern France and is often blended with Marsanne or Rousanne. In poor form, Viognier can be overtly perfumey and have a lasting oily texture that can be quite off putting.

    In the case of Illahe, the wine is a brilliant nearly-clear color with a pleasant floral nose of orange blossom and yellow flowers. Medium-bodied, the wine races onto the palate with flavors of mandarin orange, but then sticks around a while to show a brilliant flash of silver minerality and acid. Truly one of the more note-worthy wines I've had all year. Take advantage of tasting this as it will not be around long!

    Happy Pairing!

  • Pairing of the Week: Montgomery's Farmhouse Cheddar and Koval Lion's Pride Dark Oak Whiskey

    Appropriately it's an American and a Brit for this week's pairing, as the American delegation continues to excel at the London Games.

    Koval Pairing 009

    The Cheese

    Montgomery's Farmhouse Cheddar

    Producer: Jamie Montgomery and Steve Bridges
    Region: Somerset, England (southwest)
    Milk: Unpasteurized Cow
    Rennet: Animal

    Did you know that in 2004 Jamie Montgomery, George Keen (of Keen's) and Richard Calver (of Westcombe's) came together to set out for Slow Food what traditional Cheddar should be? They came up with the following guidelines:

    • -the cheese is only made in Somerset
    • -it is made using raw milk from the farmer's own herd
    • -they only use traditional pint starters, which are grown in a churn of milk before being added to the vat
    • -they use only traditional animal rennet
    • -the cheeses are made in a cylindrical form and bound in cloth
    • -the cheeses are aged for a minimum of one year

    Did you also know that the blue that shows up occasionally in the paste of Monty's is completely normal? It occurs if a cheese has been knocked slightly; the curd then separates, air enters and mould grows. These cheeses are turned every week to ensure they mature properly (in some cases for up to eighteen months). They can weigh up to 65 pounds so, even with the most careful handling, you have to expect a bit of wear and tear. Also, as the cheese matures, loses moisture and contracts, cracks can appear in the rind under the cloth. These cracks let air into the paste causing mold growth. Sometimes this mold is greyish-brown and doesn't taste good, other times it is blue and, when it is within bounds, adds a pleasant piquancy to the cheese.

    Monty's is so many things: earthy, fruity, sweet and caramel-y. Jamie Montgomery is fastidious in his attention to detail when it comes to his cows' feed. He aims to get the ratio of grass, hay, and starch just right so that there is a ideal balance of fat and protein to achieve such a complex flavor profile.

    The Booze

    Lion's Pride Dark Oat Whiskey

    Distiller: Koval
    Bottle: Lion's Pride 'Dark Oat'
    Origin: Ravenswood, Chicago
    Grain: Oat
    ABV: 40%

    Oh heck yeah, let's pop some of the brown stuff. Koval distills a long line of wonderful liqueurs, white whiskey, and vodka as well as their Lion's Pride label encompassing their aged whiskeys. Lion's pride
    offers two distinct styles for 5 separate grains. Rye, Oat, Wheat, Millet and Spelt cask aged in either light charred new oak barrels or heavily charred new oak barrels.

    We carry a rotating selection of Koval offerings. This week, let's take a look at the Dark Oat. The dense sugar in oat ultimately translates to caramel notes in the aged whiskey. Not a peppery or
    baking spice finish here (although we love that too!) Just a round and rich body that balances the heat from the 40% ABV. This broader style of whiskey is a perfect match for dense dry salty cheeses.

    The Pairing

    Guest Monger: Reigning Employee of the Month, Lindsay

    "I'm normally not a hard liquor kind of lady, but there's something so silky smooth and cinnamon-spicy about this whiskey that it really makes the sweet earthy hay and barnyard qualities of Montgomery's cheddar sing. The Lion's Pride cuts through some of the mustiness in the cheddar, while the Montgomery's cuts the overtness of the whiskey quite a bit. These guys are a perfect example of sweet and spicy learning to play well together."

    Happy Pairing!

  • Pairing of the Week: Teahive and Domaine des Cedres Cotes du Rhone

    The Cheese

    Teahive

    Producer: Beehive Cheese Co.
    Location: Uintah, UT
    Milk: Pasteurized Cow

    BeeHive Cheese Company began in 2005 when brothers-in-law Pat Ford and Tim Welsh left corporate America to pursue a simpler way of life as artisan cheesemakers. To this day they are currently still one of only a handful of artisan cheesemakers in Utah.

    TeaHive is one of the newest in their portfolio and has been garnering some serious attention in the cheese world. Beehive Cheese Company is already well known for Barely Buzzed and SeaHive-both of which took home awards last year in Montreal at the American Cheese Society's annual conference.

    TeaHive starts as a cheddar-inspired cheese made with pasteurized milk and is rubbed with a blend of black tea and pure bergamot oil. The aromas that TeaHive provides are ones of cream balanced with the scent of orange blossoms in spring. I love to eat this cheese with a nice glass of Alsatian Pinot Gris or Riesling. If you're feeling adventurous, the cheesemaker recommends TeaHive with a pint of chocolatey stout. And for the truly unique pairing, continue reading.

    The Wine

    Domaine des Cedres Cotes du Rhone

    Producer: Domaine des Cedres
    Bottle: Cotes Du Rhone
    Region: Southern Rhone(St. Nazaire), France
    Grapes: Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault
    Farming: Biodynamic/Organic

    We're very excited to have this bottle open in stores this week. The hot weather hasn't exactly fixed our gaze on reds, but its duration has certainly made us miss them. Domaine des Cedres encompasses all of the things that get us excited about a wine. Quite simply, it is pleasant to drink and speaks honestly as to where it comes from. No glossy, made-up berry bomb here. Instead, it's medium bodied with spicy fruit and lingering hint of black pepper. This balanced and honest wine craves food, too. Pizza or burgers and this bottle exemplify the notion that wine has a place in our lives everyday. Satiating a more involved interest in wine, Cedres is also biodynamically farmed, uses indigenous yeast, isn't filtered and employs very minimal sulphites.

    This pairing represents a perfect opportunity for you picnic folks. A pleasing, firm easily portable cheese and unique, but approachable red that highlights greatly the criteria by which Pastoral selects our wines.

    PotW7.26 003

    The Pairing

    Guest Monger: Bobby

    This is a lively pairing with a lot of character. First impression of the wine is that this is not Bordeaux or Burgundy. There is nothing tame or subtle about its flavor. Notes of smoked plum and black earth come to mind. Yet tasting this wine last Thursday I got really ripe fruit (figs, wild berries) and baking spice (most notably, cinnamon). This only confirms what most people know to be true about Rhone wines. While they may lack the elegance of Bordeaux or Burgundy, their flavors will shock you in their boldness. These are the unruliest of all french wines. That said, this serves as a nice contrast to the cheese whose earl grey encrusted exterior strikes of refinement, colonialism, and high tea in mid-19th century England. The unmistakable floral scent of Sicilian bergamot gives finesse and adds mild bitterness to the wine. The coarsely ground black tea adds a malty flavor (think toast and warm vanilla) and provides a certain tannic structure that the wine was lacking. Finally, the paste of the cheese itself (a product of rich jersey milk from the mudflats of Utah's Great Salt Lake) adds depth and creaminess to the pairing, enhancing the ripe fruit quality in the wine while restraining the fragrant bergamot oil.

  • Pairing of the Week: Mozzarella di Bufala and Villa Matilde Falanghina

    Here's to a pairing that signifies that summer is in full swing. As those amazing heirloom tomatoes call to you at the farmer's market, keep this pairing in mind. And for the love of all that is delicious, add some Prosciutto to this pairing. It will blow your mind...

    PairingandWotW 010

    The Cheese

    Name: Mozzarella di Bufala DOP
    Region: Campania, Italy
    Milk: Pasteurized Water Buffalo

    Fresh Mozzarella di Bufala has to be one of the best things in the world. This fresh (unripened) cheese is produced exclusively from the milk of water buffalo and comes specifically from the region of Campania in southern Italy (though the region of Lazio is included in the DOP). Mozzarella di Bufala is a pasta filata style of cheese, meaning that it is a stretched or pulled curd cheese. During the production process, coagulation is preceded by the addition to the milk of the previous day's whey (known as cizza). After acidification, calf rennet is added for coagulation. After coagulation, the curd is cut into pieces about the size of a walnut and after four hours the whey is drained off. At this point the cheesemaker will add boiling water to an equal amount of curd, let it melt and then stretch and form it by hand, though molds are often used at larger scale production facilities. Once molded into shape, the cheese is placed in cold water to firm up. At that point it is stored in brine (for flavor) until it is time to be sold. According to DOP law, mozzarella di bufala can only be sold in its own whey.

    Water buffalo have a long history in Italy, having arrived in the country sometime in the seventh century, according to most historians. They were initially used to work the marshy land around Naples, partially due to their strength as a plow animal but also because the design of their hooves prevented them from sinking too far into the muck. Cheese made from water buffalo milk can be traced to the 12th century, where it appeared at the monastery of San Lorenzo in Capua. The heyday of the water buffalo in Italy lasted from around 1800 to just before the start of World War II. The story goes that during the German retreat from Italy, they slaughtered such a significant number of buffalo that animals were imported from India to help re-populate the herds after the war. Thankfully herds have recovered many times over.

    The Wine

    Producer: Villa Matilde
    Bottle: Rocca Dei Leoni Falanghina
    Region: Campania, Italy
    Grape: Falanghina

    Medium bodied with rolling texture on the plate, Villa Matilde Falanghina introduces itself with a ripe, height-of-summer bouquet full of melon, lemon zest and roses. On the palate the wine is medium bodied and fairly coating. this coating dissipates into tingly and refreshing acidity. Flavors of summer melon, sweet cherries, and juicy lemon transform into a dry, bright and long finish with notions of dried sage and graphite from the volcanic soils of Campania.

    Our "sleeper" screw-cap enclosed wine. Sleeper in that Falanghina doesn't have the same recognition as noble varietals such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling, but this bottle might just be the most versatile of our summer stelvin selection. Fuller in body, rich in fruit, fat cutting acidity and long finish make Villa Matilde and intriguing and refreshing glass on its own and a real kaleidoscope in terms of its ability to transform any cheese and charcuterie in its path.

    The Pairing

    Guest Monger: Marquetta

    Sitting there slaving away cutting Citterio for the stores, I peep the purchasing team  from the corner of my lil eye. Cristi and Mark look like they’re having fun tasting the wine and cheese pairing. I notice that Mark kept eyeballing my sliced Citterio which I was willing to protect at all cost. But lo and behold Cristi offered a trade. A slice of Citterio for a piece of cheese. Like a little mouse I take this offer. Around the edges of this Mozzarella di Bufala it has a nice meaty, sturdy texture but the center has a creamy, light and melts in your mouth texture. One thing that I find with most mozzarellas that I’ve tasted is that they tend to lack flavor. Not this one! It had a nice saltiness to it but it was soft and almost delicate.

    The wine? A crisp white when at first taste had a play of different flavors of lemon and maybe grapefruit. Tasting the wine and cheese together the wine sparkles with the cheese and highlights the creaminess of the cheese even more. In return the Mozzarella di Bufala gave the wine a more concentrated citrus taste that softens at the end of drinking it. Add the Citterio and like someone said it was summertime in my mouth. My mouth was overjoyed with the mixed flavors that landed and did a happy dance. I can imagine myself sitting on the patio with a glass of this wine, the cheese and Citterio together and feeling free.

    Happy Pairing!

  • Pairing of the Week: Tumalo Farms Classico & Charles and Charles Rosé

    In honor of Independence Day being this week, we've paired an American wine with an American cheese in a patriotic pairing!

    The Cheese

    Classico

    Producer: Tumalo Farms
    Region: Bend, Oregon
    Milk: Pasteurized Goat Milk
    Type: Cooked, pressed
    Affinage: approx. 6 months

    Tumalo Farms is the baby of cheesemaker Flavio DeCastilhos. Flavio is a relative newcomer to the cheese world, having spent 20 years in Silicon Valley. He tells the story of a family vacation to Brazil's wine country, which served as inspiration for Tumalo Farms. While in Brazil he became enthralled with the local cheese scene---a scene that was based on the region's Italian ancestry. After years of studying cheesemaking in Europe, the Midwest and the Northwest, Tumalo Farms was founded in 2004. All of Tumalo's cheeses are Dutch and Italian in inspiration, while showcasing the unique landscape of central Oregon.

    Classico is their flagship cheese. It's a farmstead, pasteurized goat milk cheese with notes of roasted hazelnuts and citrus. There's a pleasant sweetness that lingers on the palate.

    The Wine

    2011 Rosé

    Producer: Charles and Charles
    Bottle: 2011 Rose
    Region: Columbia Valley, WA
    Grape: 100% Syrah

    All the acid driven freshness of our beloved rosé of Pinot Noir from Elk cove, but showing more dense, ripe fruit. This rosé truly mirrors the cherry, blueberry and plum currently at the stands of the Farmer's Markets. Hmmm....Elk Cove in the delicate early spring season, Lavernette rosé of Gamay and Charles and Charles in the height of summer's fruity bounty....perhaps a beautiful lean crisp and pale rosé from the Languedoc for September and October? More to come on this.....

    Let's say hello to one half of our "Height of Summer Rose" program: "C and C" (no affiliation to the Music Factory). Charles Smith and Charles Bieler are two wine renegades of sorts. Smith put quality inexpensive Washington wines on the map with such recognizable bottling as "Kung Fu Girl" Riesling and "Chateau Smith". Always hip, Smith's labels buck tradition and favor a more contemporary approach to how we look at wine: stop talking about it and drink it. Bieler lives in Harlem. After learning the craft of rosé in France, Bieler took his mastery to the states. He now produces a Mezcal you may be familiar with (Sombra) in partnership with another wine hipster, Richard Betts. The two have teamed up to produce this rose.

    Happy Pairing!

  • Pairing of the Week: Jasper Hill "Washed Moses" & Domaine Binner "Saveurs"

    This week's pairing is a subtle "wink" at the classic Alsatian pairing of Muenster and white wine.

    THE CHEESE

    Conundrum "Washed Moses"

    Producer: Cellars at Jasper Hill
    Region: Greensboro, VT
    Milk: Pasteurized Cow

    It is with great excitement that we bring you the opportunity to participate in the product development process for a new cheese, known as the "Conundrum Project". It is a way for the Cellars at Jasper Hill to share new and experimental cheeses with key retailers and other cheese professionals. They are looking to us to provide them with objective feedback on appearance, aromas, texture and flavor profile.

    Some of you may remember Harbison, a one time Conundrum Project cheese. This cheese was so popular and received such positive feedback that the Cellars are now producing it fairly regularly. So, the current incarnation of Conundrum is that of a washed-rind cheese. The thin, tacky Brevi rind offers zero sandiness (a positive in my book) and exudes aromas of stone fruit with a savory undertone. The cheese has a delicate, lush texture reminiscent of the soft ripened cheese that this began as. With a few more weeks under its belt, that texture starts to turn pudding-like, in the best way possible. Think biscuits and cream. Yum!

    THE WINE

    Saveurs

    Producer: Domaine Binner
    Region Alsace, France
    Grapes: Auxerrios, Sylvaner, Pinot Gris, Gewurtztraminer
    Farming: Biodynamic / Organic

    We love them all, but 'Saveurs' is our favorite bottle on the shelf right now. Hazy summer sunset in color, this blend of 35-100 year old vines from 6 hectares speckled across premier locations in Alsace encompasses all the wonders of natural wine-making while maintaining elegance. The Binner family is also working as a kind of nano-negociant. Sourcing grapes for some of their wines from friends' small organic certified vineyards. I had this bottle with me at my dinner at Goosefoot (12 course BYOB French restaurant in Lincoln Square) and was shocked by its versatility with food.

    On the lees aging and very late harvesting lead to a round and ripe wine. The floral aromatics of Gewurtztraminer float above the wine that carries flavors of burnt orange peel, ripe peach, raw honey and sandy minerals. The medium body is lifted slightly as the wine takes on an ever so slight effervescence in the bottle. This wine is complex and finishes very long and serves to be a go-to when I have the desire to impress someone that "doesn't drink whites".

    THE PAIRING

    Guest Monger: Patrick

    A take on the classic pairing of French muenster (No, not that supermarket cheese!) and Alsatian white, this week's pairing proves to be a successful contrast pairing. My first instinct when smelling Jasper Hill Farm's 'Conundrum' project is the scent of a house where there lurks a tub of slowly fermenting sauerkraut. The cheese proves much milder than expected, with earthy notes and a bubble gum 'dustiness' in the mid-palate. The cheese finishes with notes of baby kale and parsley. Saveurs asserts a vibrant green apple nose, with a caramel-apple pop-like intensity. Very ripe lychee and rambutan fade into a bold minerality, ending with a very pleasant dryness. While the cheese is restrained and almost mellow, the Saveurs is bright and acidic. Saveurs lifts the cheese up and allows one to appreciate the earthy nuances that may otherwise hide on one's palate.

    Happy Pairing!

  • Pairing of the Week: Sartori Raspberry Bellavitano and Chateau de Lavernette Rose

    Summer is in full effect and with festival season getting in to gear as well, here's a pairing that's fit for any warm weather occasion!

    nifty nougat pairing 018

    The Cheese

    Rapsberry Bellavitano

    Producer: Sartori
    Location: Plymouth, WI
    Milk: Pasteurized Cow
    Rennet: Microbial (vegetarian)
    **allergen note: this cheese is not gluten free as it is washed in Raspberry Tart Ale from New Glarus**

    Sartori is a fourth generation family owned company, founded by Paolo Sartori in Plymouth, Wisconsin. He was from a tiny town called Valdastico in the northern Italian Alps. He settled in Wisconsin's dairy country and within a year cofounded S&R Cheese Corp. with partner Louis Rossini. Paolo's son Joe Sartori continued to expand the business, and in 1970 was the first American to export cheese into Italy and Japan. In 1999, Sartori introduced a new cheese of their own invention called Bella Vitano, Italian for "Beautiful Life."

    For the Raspberry Bellavitano, Sartori works with the famed (and Pastoral staff favorite) New Glarus Brewing Company in New Glarus, Wisconsin. They provide the Raspberry Tart Ale in which the Bellavitano is soaked.

    The Wine

    beaujolais-villages rose

    Producer: Chateau De Lavernette
    Region: Beuajolais, France
    Grape: Gamay Noir
    Farming: Biodynamic/Organic

    When we discovered this wine together at the Imports 59 grand tasting at Paris Club a few months back, we had a similar dazzled look on our faces. We chatted with the wine maker about the renaissance of a sorely misunderstood wine producing region and were immediately compelled to make some fairly straight forward notes in our tasting guide: "BUY!".

    Fresh and juicy, but not flimsy. This rose has a creamy texture in the mid-palate broken up by flirty acidity. Expected flavors of strawberry are speckled with melon and floral characteristics. We just purchased the last 2 cases of our beloved spring rose (Elk Cove), perfect timing to fall for a new rose in the run-up to the height of summer.

    The Pairing

    Guest Monger: Mark

    At first blush, the cheese appears to be a bit too "big" for rose of gamay noir; notes of hazelnut and brown butter with those lovely protein 'crunchies' interspersed throughout the cheese. However, once you put the 2 together they sing. The vibrant raspberry tones from the Raspberry Tart Ale play so well together with the red fruit that is so obvious in the wine. For me the experience is almost as if I were eating a fresh raspberry tart with just a little bit of whipped cream.

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