Friday, November 20, 2015

Savouring European Cheeses


*Look out for an awesome gourmet cheese hamper giveaway at the end of this post! Moohehe.*

When I was a kid, 'cheese' was a thin pale yellow square wrapped in clear plastic. Oh how times have changed now and given the increase in the variety of cheeses available at supermarkets and gourmet stores, the proliferation of speciality cheese shops and the familiarity of Ricotta, Brie, Mozzarella etc in dishes, it clearly seems that the cheese scene here has nicely matured beyond mere Cheddar.

Being without a sweet tooth, I always love a nice platter of cheese served with crackers, dried fruits, jams and a bit of honey at the end of a meal. Not to mention, it makes for a perfect excuse to imbibe more wines. Moohehe.

Speaking of wines, they tend to be the de facto pairing with cheeses but, as I found out at a recent tasting led by Singaporean wine and food expert Edwin Soon, whiskies and teas can also be good matches. Yes, even teas!

I love the 14-month aged Comte paired with Earl Grey tea. The tannins, body and Bergamot notes of the black tea complemented the Comte's rich nuttiness very nicely.

Another tea pairing we tried was the Gouda with Jasmine Gold tea. The classic Dutch cheese tasted mildly sweet and creamy on its own but when savoured with the Jasmine Gold tea, it gained a lovely floral, fruity dimension.

I find that the tannins in tea work pretty much like those in wines. Binding to proteins and helping to "cut through" the fat with their astringency (siap siap-ness in local terms), tannins can tame, enhance, and complement cheeses while refreshing the palate. Just imagine why a glass of red wine is perfect with a steak or a strong Pu-er tea is always on the table alongside a dim sum meal and you'll get the idea. ;)

Shifting back to wine pairings with cheese, my favourite is the Fourme d'Ambert with the Quinta do Silval 1997. This blue cheese and port pairing is a classic with its sweet-salty contrasts and robust flavours melding in the mouth to give a soft, harmonious profile. This is my kind of "dessert". Moohaha.

We also sampled the Brillat Savarin, a creamy and slightly punchy fresh goat's cheese from France, paired with a white Cote du Rhone from E.Guigal. Here the wine's acidity cleansed the palate in preparation for the next bite. A moore intense cheese, the Munster oozes a strong aroma with a tangy, savoury flavour. This was paired with a French Pinot Noir, the Henri Perrot Minot Bourgogne VV which made the flavours rounder and gentler.      

Mooving on to cheese and whiskies. the 22-month aged Mimolette (probably my favourite cheese that evening) was served with the Laphroaig 10 Year Old. A hard cheese, the orange-hued Mimolette was a little dry and chewy. Imbued with a wonderfully rounded, sweet, nutty flavour with a good depth, the Mimolette is a natural work of art all thanks to the cheese mites which act on its rind to produce its characteristic flavour profile. This stood up to the big, peaty Laphroaig 10 Year Old which had salty tones to mirror similar notes in the cheese.

The guided tasting was held at the elegant Scotts 27 which had a stately yet homely feel.

Scotts 27's Chef-owner Julien Bompard prepared two tasty canapés, Cheese Fondue with Bacon Emulsion and Blue Cheese & Orange Marmalade Butter Toast, using cheese to showcase their versatility in cooking.

Making cheeses might be an art but thankfully it is mooch easier to savour them. Grate some over a dish! Bake with it! Throw a slice into a sandwich! Add some to a salad or sauce! Or assemble a beautiful cheese platter to appreciate cheeses on their own.

European cheeses, in particular, are known for their high quality with stringent checks throughout all production processes and traceability through every stage of product development to ensure quality and safety. Add to that their longstanding history of cheese-making and mindboggling array of thousands of varieties and it is no wonder I am inspired to pen down the below song.

"Cheese always on my mind
From the time I wake up
Till I close my eyes
Cheese everywhere I go
Cheese all I know"

Yea let's just say it is an adaptation of the song "Heaven Nose". Moohaha.

European Cheeses. Open your taste!

This blog post is brought to you by CNIEL, the French Dairy Interbranch Organization, and the European Union.

Chew On This:

Giveaway time! Stand to win a hamper of 5 artisanal European cheeses worth $50 by simply sharing your favourite cheese and beverage pairing in the comment box below! Do state your email address too. One winner will be randomly picked on 30 November 2015. Multiply your chances of winning by sharing this with and tagging your friends on social media to also encourage them to join the giveaway. That whey should any of your friends win, you'll still get to enjoy a nice cheese party! Moohehe.


Maameemoomoo said...

I love all cheeses. Muaahahaha!

But since you have asked me to pick one, it'd be brillat savarin with trufle. OMG. :P

Love it with Riesling. YUMS!

Cheryl said...

Blue Cheese with Port! Brings out that umami! Noms.

Ian Chua said...

Camembert cheese with Cabernet Sauvignon!

Andrew Wong said...

Haha maybe many will disagree but love cheese with Champagne. Imagine the little bubbles penetrating and bursting the coating of goodness in your month.

Unknown said...

Love blue cheese with red wine!

Eunice Tan said...

Camembert and Brie with a Perrier jouet would be a nice fine pairing to keep one bubbly! :)

Rachel L. said...

Comte with Earl Grey (daytime) & citrusy Sauvignon Blanc (happy time)

Singapore said...

A baked Vacherin Mont D'or is the best with some sage and garlic slices inserted in it, paired with a nice cup of jasmine tea.

Peishan Y. said...

Brie with apple cider :)

Shax2 said...

With a big love for brioche-y, nutty Champers, I'd say I'll have it with an aged gouda or edam any day :)

Jon said...

Reblochon with port!

nadnut said...

Blue cheese with a glass of sauvignon blanc!

I can't take those now but my friends can! :x

XY said...

Warm oozing Vacherin Mont d'Or with a refreshing glass of Amalfi Limoncello (I don't drink wine) sounds perfect to me :)

The Hungry Cow said...

Congrats, Rachel L! The online random number generator picked #7 which means you win the gourmet cheese hamper!

I am still awaiting for your email response.

Sorry I will have to draw another winner if there is no response from your end by 7 Dec, 11.59pm.

The rest might still have hope. Moohehe.

The Hungry Cow

The Hungry Cow said...

Rachel L has contacted me to claim her prize.

Thanks everyone for joining the giveaway. Have a great week ahead! :)