April 26th, 2006
WOW! What a great night last night! Thank you to all who came out to support us on a Tuesday night!
How can we possibly express the level of gratitude we feel for all the people who supported Cheese by Hand at our kick-off event last night. We know that you can find links to all these folks in our Special Thanks section but we are so moved by their generosity that we want to give one more round of shout outs.
Vintage New York donated their beautiful space to us for the evening and provided us with everything we needed logistically to make the event what it was.
Blue Hill introduced me to something I will crave from this day forward: the Fennel Burger. Sweet, seasonal, and aesthetically pleasing- precisely what one becomes accustomed to when they put their taste buds in the hands of Chef Dan Barber. And what a treat to have Parmesan Lollypops passed throughout the night by Blue Hill’s team to accompany those tasty Fennel Burgers!
Even though I was incredibly tardy getting my trays to Mas (farmhouse) yesterday, all of their staff was enthusiastic about the project. This might be because it meant they got to sneak a sample of the exquisite steak tartare. One could clearly stop there but their chef Galen Zamarra is in a different league- he also crafted smoked cod fritters topped with a dollop of saffron mayonnaise that was dotted with chopped capers and cornichons and the entire bit was topped with a sunchoke chip.
Last but in absolutely no way the least is the crostini that I began referring to as “springtime on a toast” from the Tasting Room. Chef Colin Alveras never misses a greenmarket beat and last night was no exception. Upon first glance one might have thought “who brought the spinach dip?” until the dip crossed their lips. Colin used ricotta from one of his favorite New York state cheesemakers, Tonjes Farm, mixed in ramps and dandelion greens and finished it off with a splash of Tonjes’ buttermilk.
Millbrook Vineyards and Winery from Hudson Valley in New York provided us with their Special Reserve Chardonnay. Millbrook has several wines to choose from but when it is spring and there is food to be had, we love their Chardonnay. It is Burgundian style with malolactic fermentation in barrel and provides a lovely acidity to compliment the food.
And our good friends Bruce & Christiane Schneider donated their amazing Cabernet Franc and Syrah. Schneider Vineyards is out on the North Fork of Long Island. Their Le Breton Cabernet Franc is in the Loire style with wonderful hints of pepper and vegetal notes but stays in balanced with the acid to make it such a great food wine. And the Syrah is a rich muscular red without the overpowering tannins often associated with Syrah from the south of France. Two great wines!
Both of these producers demonstrate that, right here in New York, there are delicious and affordable wines being produced. It was a treat to pour their wines.
So great to have so many cheese enthusiasts in one place, especially because we had the goods to satiate their cheese needs. We were only able to do this because of the generosity of three stellar, American cheesemakers.
The Kehler’s brothers sent us a smattering of cheeses from Jasper Hill. Their soft-ripened Constant Bliss were in rare form. Bayley Hazen Blue, as promised by Mateo, was not a “slap you upside the head” kind of experience rather it allowed us to taste the milk alongside the mild blue flavors. The spruce-bound Winnemere tasted as good as it looked- delicate woodsy flavors, sweet milk, and a pungent exterior came together to make something totally cool happen on the tongue. The Cabot Clothbound was excellent- this cheese is going to revolutionize the way cheese people think about pasteurized cheddar- it is bursting with flavor.
Mike and Carol Gingrich from Uplands Cheese shared some of their treasured Pleasant Ridge Reserve Extra Aged with us last night. This is the cheese that won Best in Show at the American Cheese Society in 2005. Uplands does not mess around- they are only making cheese when the cows are out on pasture- and even then, they taste the milk daily to decide which batches are worthy of cheesemaking. Such a treat to have this at our event.
Our Texas hero Paula Lambert of the Mozzarella Company sent us one of her most unique cheeses, Hoja Santa. Wrapped in the fragrant (and huge) Hoja Santa leaf this cheese is not only beautiful but also has some of the most interesting flavors of any American cheese out there.
Jasper Hill not only provided us with a wide variety of their cheeses, they also served as the content for our extended audio clip. We spent some time editing together a longer segment ala NPR and played a portion of it last night.
The music heard (in order) is “The American Landscape” by Gloria Deluxe, “Summer Days” and “Golden Time” by Matty Charles. We love their music and are so grateful they allowed us to user their music for this piece. Let us know what you think!