This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cheese Plate

Tim and I met up with my Saucy Aussie for drinks at Bogarts last evening. I thought it was a very odd coincidence that she was drinking Lady from Shanghai martinis when that's _all_ Tim ever orders at Bogarts. It is THE reason why Bogarts is usually on our date night roster.

We had a fun evening there, drinking shanghais (me: wine...fittingly, the Menage a Trois) and throwing the "f" word in every other sentence. We later noticed our neighbor of guys at the bar also, and a bit suddenly, throwing the f bomb out there too. We thought we passed the virus on to them...because, you know, everyone wants to be like us. :-)

Had a few apps there too. Not bad but not great. Typical bar food and nothing really stood out. We had the crab dip, which to me seemed very 'fishy'. The coconut shrimp I did enjoy the most. The homemade potato chips were good too -- accompanied with a blue cheese sauce. I would say that Wild Wings has the best homemade chips, but one can't really go wrong with homemade potato chips.

After about three shanghais for Tim and Sam, we headed to Enoteca Vin. I was pretty excited since it sounded like Sam had not been there, so I like to be the one to introduce someone to new places.

We hit the bar again and Sam flirted with our very good-looking waiter. He was awesome as he really gave us a good review of the wine list for recommendations, without just pointing to the most expensive wines on the list. I think Sam was actually leaning towards a pricier wine and he brought her back down to a modest wine...which was outstanding.

BTW, the waiter looked very much like David Bromstad, the winner of Season 1 of HGTV's Design Star. He is absolutely hot, but is absolutely gay. I loved watching our waiter as he was soooo, soooo cute, but I swear, I thought he must be gay too. Afterwards, Tim burst my bubble and said he thought the guy was paying him more attention than Sam and I.

For yet another snack, we decided on the cheese plate...rather, we pushed Sam on the cheese plate. As I've written many times before, the cheese plate is something we always get at Enoteca Vin.

I told Sam: watch them -- they'll weigh it to precision. And the next thing I know, she's hanging over the counter, watching our David-Bromstad-lookalike weigh each sliver of cheese. She's practically yelling at him "I can't believe you're doing that!" "Get out of here!", just laughing at the whole ordeal. Nonetheless, we get six amazing cheeses for the cheese plate. It's not the same every time we Tim "stole" the cheese menu and I'm reprinting it here for your lore. If you imagine cubed cheeses of orange and white, some with holes in them, you are so off target. This is no cheese plate that a mere mortal has ever experienced:

Clawson Blue Stilton (England)
A traditional pasteurized cow's milk cheese with a strong blue taste and crumbly texture. Aged eight weeks, this cheese has greenish blue veining radiating from its center and a wrinkled grayish brown rind.

Manchego (Spain)
Spain's most popular sheep's milk cheese. Pressed with a distinctive woven pattern on the rind and aged three months to a year, cheese remains smooth and rich but has a distinctive bite and a lingering finish.

Comté le Fort (France)
After WWII, Marcel Petite bought an unused munitions fort from the French Government because he felt that it would be the best environment for agin the 70lb wheels of French Gruyere known as Comté. This Comté is aged from 16 to 24 months. Exquisitely refined with small crunchy protein crystals and a dense, sweet flavor with hints of fennel, onion and sometimes cocoa butter.

Raviola 3 Latti (Italy)
A much admired cheese from the Italian Piedmont that aims to cover all of the bases by using equal parts cow, sheep and goat milk. Creamy and rich with a delicate flavor.

Manouri (Greece)
Manouri is essentially a sheep's milk ricotta salata that has been aged to a firm texture and chalky texture. As a ricotta, it is made by boiling whey from feta production and adding fresh sheep's milk cream. The cheese maker forms each Manouri log by scooping the curds in a special cotton sack and squeezing out the excess whey by hand. The sacks are then hung in a temperature-controlled room for several days as the excess whey drains.

Tomme de Savoie (France)
A classic French cheese, made from raw cow's milk in the Savoie region of France. It has a semi-soft texture and a nutty, deep flavor. The milk used for Tommes is skimmed, with the richer cream going to butter making, resulting in a relatively low-fat (20-40%) cheese.

My favorite this evening was the Raviola 3 Latti from Italy. It was a soft cheese that was very salty (but not too salty) to the taste and just went exquisitely well with the French wine we had.

Enoteca Vin was the first place that introduced me to such a cheese plate, many, many years ago. And it has become a mainstay in my home. I have at least, on hand on any given day, three (but usually much, much more) exotic cheeses. My favorite 'snack' is to cut about three different cheeses, add them to a plate with some olives, bread & olive oil, and dried cherries. Oooh-la-la! La Vida de Loca!

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