Pairing wine and cheese…my best guesses….


I’m no expert…but I have an opinion……

****cross posted at Menuism

Ernest Hemingway one said, “Wine is the most civilized thing in the world.” We all know how I feel about beer, and the same can be said for wine. I really can’t say which I like better…each pairs with cheese in its own amazing way!

Both wine and cheese have been part of the human diet for a very long time, so there are lots of opinions on what goes with what. And again, they are both living things that change with age, so what you tasted in December will more than likely taste completely different a few months—or years—later.

The most basic guideline for pairing wine and cheese: Eat what you like with wine you like to drink. It’s as simple as that. No hard-and-fast rules. Wine and cheese is about enjoying yourself. Why would you eat what you don’t like…right?

But for those of you who want a starting point to jump from, here are some simple guidelines to base some of your first pairings.

Getting Started: Time & Temperature

First, let me say that wine must be served not too cold and not too warm. Proper cellar temperature is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and while I certainly don’t advocate serving all wines at 55 degrees, proper cellar temperature is a good starting point for both reds and whites. Reds are best when served slightly above cellar temperature but not close to room temperature. That is way too warm.

So pop your reds in the fridge the day you want to drink them and remove them about a half hour prior to popping the cork. For white wines, cellar temperature is appropriate. Any colder than that and it mutes the complex flavors of the wine. Again, 30 minutes before popping the cork, take it out of the fridge. Same goes for cheese.

Now let’s talk putting cheese and wine together.

Pairing Tips: Something Old with Something Bleu…and More!

White wine pairs well with pretty much anything, so if you like a particular cheese and particular wine, try them together. Crispy whites, like a pinot gris, pair well with creamy cheeses.

Fruity, light reds like a young zinfandel pair great with blooming rind cheese like Kunik, a goat and cow’s milk blended cheese. I also like to pair more spicy/jammy reds with funky cheeses—sometimes the funkier the better.

Roquefort goes great with dessert wines or port. I had a big hunk of Maytag blue with an aged white wine and it was delish!

When considering your options, great pairings occur when the wine brings flavor out of the cheese or vice versa. Terroir plays a role again. It’s true what people tout: Location, location, location! Choosing traditional cheeses and wines from the same region is a safe bet to a happy pairing.

Here are a few of my favorite pairings:

  • Kunik with a red zinfandel
  • Big Ed with Riesling
  • 5-year aged Gouda with a syrah
  • Gorgonzola with a pinot noir
  • Pleasant Ridge Reserve with a chardonnay
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Beer and Cheese…a match made in heavan


**Cross-posted at Menuism

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” I happen to agree with that adage 100 percent. Add a platter of delicious cheese and it’s proof that God not only loves us and wants us to be happy, but also is letting us have a taste of heaven right here on earth. Many folks think that the perfect beverage to serve with cheese is wine. And surely for some, it is. But don’t discount the age-old fermented brew. Humans have been drinking beer since 9000 B.C.! Like cheese, beer is a complex and varied beverage. And like cheese, small batch, hand-crafted brew is a delight—and the perfect match for artisanal cheese. After all, they both start with the same ingredient: grass.

As we learned last month, the flavor of the cheese is derived from milk, which is flavored by the grass the animal eats. And beer is made from barley, a cereal grass often used for not only brewing beer but also for feeding animals. Two peas in a pod, right?!

Here’s the kicker: there are no steadfast beer and cheese pairings. As much as I would like to say “eat this” when you “drink that,” it just doesn’t happen. The only way you can know what goes with what is to try it out. And to be honest, that is the fun part. Now, don’t get me wrong—we can start with some basic concepts of beer and cheese pairing. There is a bit of method to this madness.

4 Ground Rules for Pairing Cheese and Beer

  1. Start by thinking about balance. You don’t want the cheese to overpower the beer or vice versa. A soft delicate goat’s milk cheese would be crushed by a sharp IPA.
  2. Next up: terrior. It doesn’t only apply to wine. If you drink beer and eat cheese from the same region, one could say that the complementary factors are what make the match work. The beginnings of each product are harvested from the same plot of land and often share some flavor characteristics.
  3. But in the same breath, let’s talk contrast. The differences in each could highlight a flavor or texture that we would have missed if paired with something too similar.
  4. Texture can play a role as well. A thick, creamy cheese may not pair well with a heavy stout. It may need a lighter, more effervescent beer, like a sparkling ale.

5 Failsafe Pairings

It can get messy if you think too hard. You just have to give it a whirl. Here is my starting point.

  1. Sharp cheddars, Colby or hard aged cheeses often go well with brown ales.
  2. Fresh chèvre or a pungent feta goes great with wheat beers (try a fruited wheat beer for fun).
  3. Smooth silky cheeses like mascarpone, Neufchatal or a triple crème stand up great with a fruity lambic or a kriek.
  4. Blue cheeses like Gorgonzola or Stilton pair beautifully with barleywines or an ultra-hopped beer like Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA.
  5. A strong Gruyère will often pair nicely with a bock beer, while milder Swiss cheeses can be enjoyed with a Märzen.

Remember, cheese and beer pairings are not set in stone. If you like it…eat it and drink it. Consider that what you like together in December might not go well in August. Beer and cheese change as they age, just like all living things. So grab a baguette or a loaf of good country bread, a nice pint of craft beer and a slice of artisanal cheese and see what you think. You will be pleasantly surprised!

Christmas came early to the CWE


Seriously!  How lucky are the residents of the Central West End (CWE)!?!  Gerard Craft opened Brasserie by Niche in the former Chez Leon space.  With Perry Hendrix at the helm of the stove, the CWE folks have just gotten themselves one heck of a neighborhood hotspot! Focusing on classic French bistro fare, you’ll never eat onion soup anywhere else.  Cassoulet, moules frites, French cheeses, country pate….and an amazing croque monsieur…coq au vin…you’ll feel like you are sitting in a Parisian bistro! With a nice beer and wine selection…Brasserie By Niche is one of my new favorite places to go. Lucky for me it’s a stone’s throw from the hospital…and after a long day caring for the masses…Brasserie is a welcome respite!

Next up: Pi!! Pi is close to opening its doors in their new CWE locale! That makes the third space opened by Chris Sommers! With the crazy success of his spot in the Delmar Loop..and the cult-like obsession cultivated at the Kirkwood spot he is about to dish out some of that crazy good cornmeal crust deep dish on the corner of Euclid and McPherson! And to make it even better Mathew Rice is going to be doing his ingenious desserts at the new CWE locale! His milkshake bar at the Kirkwood locale is a favorite already.  I suggest a Purple Cow or a chocolate malted milkshake if you make it out Kirkwood! The CWE spot is geared toward adults with a gorgeous reclaimed eco-friendly bar manned by Chad George!

So…no more complaining about the CWE not having anything new….get over to Brasserie (open NOW!) and Pi (slated to open to the public on Tuesday 12/ 15/09!)

Adjusting to life back in STL


What a whirlwind August has been!  We are moved into the new house, however we have loads of unpacking and organizing to do.  Work is in full swing and class begins tonight for me!  The kitchen was our first room to unpack…of course!  Still trying to figure out the proper ‘flow’ of the new space…it’s been rearranged twice…I’m sure we’ll rearrange again.

I’ve been lucky enough to have some great meals around town.  Last night was Bobo…it was my second visit since being home and it didn’t disappoint.  Ginger pork and egg noodles….delicious.  I usually get the chicken….and although I liked the pork…the chicken is still my fav….headed over to Eclipse for a night cap on the roof.  If you have yet to get down to Eclipse at the Moonrise Hotel  in University City…I’d make a trip.  The food is wonderful…the drinks are great and the rooftop views rival any bar in the city.  They have a decent beer list…and the wine list it thoughtful, as well.  But the calamari is delectable.  Best I’ve had in StL in a very long time. eclipse

Speaking of Eclipse…I’ve been lucky enough to have been invited to an installation of a Full Moon Foodies Dinner.  Hosted by Wes Johnson and Brendan Noonan…it’s a late-night meal focusing on creative cooking…each dinner has a theme and guests are invited to a late night dining experience at Eclipse.  Wes has graciously given me the green light to publish my thoughts on their late night adventures.  Stay tuned….September 4th will be an exciting night.  It will be a vegetarian meal….looking forward to see what the guys can do with this season’s bounty!

Niche TasteBar


you should go there.  the drinks are amazing…the food spectacular.  Ted Kilgore is a mad scientist and booze genius…pair with Gerard Crafts inventive and satisfying food….it’s a win-win.   they also stay open late…where else can you get a great cheese plate at midnight, hmm?  need i say more?

it is really, really good…and fun…and just all around a nice place to sit for an hour or so……plus the music didn’t suck.

there…that is my review…done and done.

From the Scoop on SauceMagazine.com:


Master mixologist Ted Kilgore will be moving from Monarch Restaurant to Niche Taste Bar, which is slated to open next month. “While I was not looking to make a move, the project is right up my alley,” Kilgore said. Details to follow. P

Drink Recipes for KBO and BarbaricGulp!


Sorry for the delay, ladies. School and work suck!

Sour Cherry Cocktail:

2 parts Vodka

3 parts sour cherry juice (or muttled sour cherries)

Splash of Cointreau

1 lime ice cube

1 regular ice cube

In shaker…give a few jiggles…and voila…Sour Cherry Cocktail

Pineapple Rosemary Cocktail (this is Simon’s creation and I think it varies with each time….)

2 parts Vodka (sometimes we make pinepple vodka by steeping some fruit overnight)

3 parts Pineapple Juice (if not using pineapple vodka)

small sprig of rosemary

a splash of Voss or other sparkling water

ca-ching…refreshing summer cooler…If you use pineapple vodka…sub some simple syrup for the pineapple juice part.

Grandpa’s Lemonade

This one we use ALOT!
1 lemon wedge

1/2 cup superfine sugar, plus more for rims

1 3/4 cups whiskey

3/4 cup kirsch

1 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4 to 5 lemons)

4 dashes bitters

6 cups small ice cubes, plus more for glasses

Serve over ice with twist.

Thyme Lemonade

1 1/2 cups sugar ( use superfine)

2 cups fresh lemon juice

1 cup vodka or gin ( i like vodka)

bunch of fresh sprigs of thyme

Make simple syrup with sugar, thyme and 1 cup water.

Add lemon juice, vodka and 6 cups water…chill and serve.  Garnish with thyme sprigs.

Cucumber Mint Cocktail

2  cucumbers ( I like English…)

ice cubes

fresh mint leaves

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)

1/2 cup vodka

2 tbsp Cointreau

Peel, core and whiz cucumber into pulp.  Strain juice. Mix it all together in shaker w/ ice…serve over crushed ice with cucumber garnish. yum.

Strawberry Basil Martini

3 strawberries, plus 1 thin slice of strawberry for garnish

3 basil leaves

1/2 ounce Simple Syrup

Ice

1 ounce gin, preferably Tanqueray No. Ten

1 ounce vodka

1/2 ounce fresh lime juice

Muddle berries, basil and simple syrup.  Add the rest of the liquid to shaker…jiggle and pour.

Some of these recipes come from my MIL…some I’ve just made up and some I’ve pilfered from local restaurants in PHX and Vegas….anyway you look at it…they’re tasty…

The Wine Merchant closes Creve Coeur Location


From John Nash:

Greetings,
“The world is coming to grips with the most serious economic downturn since the second World War and many economists are expecting a slow recovery. Our lease is up for renewal at our Creve Coeur store and we’ve made the tough decision to close this location. Our Clayton shop remains vibrant and continues to grow as we enter our 17th year of business. Highway 64/40 is now open for business and getting to Clayton has never been faster. We appreciate the many years of patronage and support in West County. We’d like to invite you to visit our Clayton store where we will continue with our commitment to value, selection and great customer service. Our Clayton store is open every day (Sunday too) and we have free, excellent parking on the North and South side of our building. We’re closing out our remaining inventory in Creve Coeur this week at Clearance Sale prices. You’ll save big on our entire store stock. Shop early for the best selection. See below for details. Cheers!”

-John Nash, The Wine Merchant, Ltd.

Who made the grade in St. Louis??


Last evening I had the opportunity to attend St. Louis Magazine’s A List Awards Party at Lumen (it is a gorgeous event space…wow). It is not an event I would normally attend. Mind you, at one point in my life, it would have been on the radar. Many of you may not know this, but St. Louis Magazine crowned me one of St. Louis’ Top Singles back in the day….not shabby for a kid from downtown. But, as time passed….I grew tired of the scene….fell in love with the Cheesemonger and left that life behind.

Alas, my buddy Mathew Rice was being honored for Niche’s desserts and we set up a table to hand out the goodies. Much to my surprise we were put in the best spot in the house: center balcony over looking the crowd (and was there ever a crowd! Whoa). To our left, Eric Brenner, A List Chef winner…and to our right Ricardo’s Italian Cafe…A list winner for casual Italian food. ***Sidenote on Ricardo’s: My very first job as a bus-girl was at Ricardo’s over 15 years ago…yep. I have known Mark and Michelle Adams for years and started out babysitting their two little boys…who now help run the restaurant. Good people, that Adams family. If you have not had the chance to go to Ricardo’s in Lafayette Square…make a point to get over there. They are even open for lunch.***

So, with being flanked by two tables of pals…the night was sure to be fun. And lucky for us the open bar sat directly across from our table. Nice perk.

Along comes Mike Emerson owner of Pappy’s Smokehouse! Mike and I have been chummy since he has opened his doors. We were one of his first customers and I was sure to tell him how much we loved his BBQ. After some more chit chat at the awards event…turns out Mike and I go way back and didn’t even know it. I’ve known his brother Danny my entire life and he grew up with some older members of my family. Pappy’s was being honored for best BBQ in St. Louis….what an honor….open not even ONE YEAR and they are picked for the A List. That was a no-brainer, though. Pappy’s by far is the BEST BBQ in St. Louis….hands down. Don’t fight me on it…you won’t win. And Pappy’s is another place to rush to…..amazing. And before you all shout out ‘favoritism’…..please know that I was singing this joint’s praises long before I actually met Mike and realized his family and mine were close. So zip it.

It was a great time.  Kevin Willmann, chef at Erato on Main was being honored as well.  It was great to see him outside the kitchen!  City Hall was representin’ with Mike McMillen and his crew.  All the pretty people were out in droves….dressed to kill….and packed in Lumen like little sardines sweating.  I was so happy when we ran out of food and could head outside to hang at the Pappy’s table.  (they were outside)  It was a great night to be outside with a cocktail.

Good party St. Louis Magazine….and even better choices for your A-List winners.

just my opinion


I realized something last night…..Pat at the Shaved Duck is one damn good bartender.  The drinks there are really really good.  Yes, I mostly drink beer there….but he made a Manhattan for Si last night that was simply amazing.  The drink menu there is innovative, delicious and so, so reasonably priced.  There ingredients are freshly prepared….for instance, there is a jar of fresh peach puree, house preserved olives and cherries, fresh picked herbs…and always a BIG bowl of fresh citrus.  Good job, Pat!!!  I’ve decided that next visit I will have the mojito….served with a sprinkling of rosemary….reminds me of Simon’s famous rosemary pineapple martinis.

The Shaved Duck –worth the wait


We stopped in the Shaved Duck last night for a bite to eat….the place was packed!  I was so happy to see that.  We opted to eat at the bar to save us the wait for a table.  The front bar area is great…looking forward to it on a blustry winter night….just the kind of place you want to have a nip.

Technical difficulties aside (which ALL restaurants have on their very first night) the food was excellent!  I had the duck liver and some cheese (of course….it came from my husband).  Si had the hot and sour duck soup…almost a consommé…delicious.  Our guest had a scallop wrapped bacon (that’s right…scallop AROUND bacon) and we dug the duck frites (uber shoestring curls of potatoes fried in duck fat)  Jesus H Christ those were good.  I will say this though:  I wish the fries were bigger…more of a traditional frites…but amazing none the less.  My biggest pet peeve (and you will be reassured that I will write/call and tell them this) :  They spelled Anheuser wrong on the menu.  Now, I know that tons of you won’t care b/c you think Anheuser Busch is the devil…but this is St. Louis and I do believe we need to show a little respect to the King of Beers as they have done a great deal for our city and especially my family….AB has been putting dinner on the table one way or another for my family for over 100 years…sooooo….get the name right.  It’s ANHEUSER not Anheiser.  My grandfather would thank you.

They are finding their pace and working their way through a new service very well.  All employees were courteous and helpful.  The food is delicious with small places of charcuterie, cheese, lots of duck..even a great confit, larger plates of market fish, game and chicken and house cured meats….desserts are by Serendipity….which are good…but they should go for Veruca….and knock everyone’s socks off.  The beer list is well, amazing (thanks to MIke at STLHops.com) and varied.  I stuck with the Schlafly Summer Kolsch…my fav this time of year…and soooo easy to drink.

And, for those of you who were there with me last night….we have decided to make a new tradition for the Shaved Duck….upon leaving for the night….you get a nice big slap on the keister….don’t ask…just know it could be coming.  😉

Gerard Craft: Best New Chef 2008


Gerard Craft Wins BEST CHEF 2008!!!!!!!

niche.jpg

Gerard Craft, Niche (St. Louis, MO)
The chef and owner of Niche and the adjoining Veruca Bakeshop & Café, Gerard Craft, 28, began his career washing dishes in a pool hall in Salt Lake City. His love of cooking led him to take a job at Bistro Toujours, one of the city’s top restaurants, under Bryan Moscatello (a Best New Chef 2005). Craft held positions at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles under Mohammad Islam and the Metropolitan in Salt Lake City under Perry Hendrix. He moved to St. Louis in 2005 to open Niche, which is in a converted warehouse in the Benton Park area. Menu standouts are a “Bacon and Eggs” sandwich of braised pork belly, buttery brioche and an oozing poached egg.

yes!

The Shaved Duck


If you know me…you know I love the Scottish Arms….more so a good cock-a-leekie pie and plate of scotch eggs and a cold pint of Guinness.

Well, Ally Nisbet is opening another spot…this time it’s a hop, skip and jump away from us.  The Shaved Duck will be open within the next 2-3 weeks….this timetable was recieved right from the horse’s mouth.  I have been waiting VERY patiently for this spot to open up and my patience will be rewarded in the next month.

Along with great food, the Shaved Duck is going to feature N. American craft beers.  STLHops joined in on the fun and helped the boys out and came up with an amazing list of beer.  You can CHECK THEM OUT HERE.

Hip Hip Hooray!  I can’t wait for the Shaved Duck!!!!