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. ;)
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.
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.
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.