Posts Tagged ‘Spain’
We have been foiled in several attempts to dine at Sitka & Spruce in the past year. The first was a walk-in rejection with nearly an hour wait. The second was an abruptly terminated phone call when I requested a table for eight during the festive season. The third was a hasty retreat due to a forgotten AmazonFresh scheduled delivery. Determined to have a meal at Sitka and Spruce I suggested dinner there after the Cheese 101 at The Calf & Kid but alas, the restaurant is closed on Sundays.
I adore Melrose Market and every neighbourhood should have one! The Calf & Kid is an artisan cheese purveyor with personalised service and a genuine passion for quality cheeses.
The cheese counter at The Calf & Kid. A handwritten sign is spiked into each cheese with unique descriptions and flavour profiles.
Dry-aged beef at Rain Shadow Meats.
Cooking wood piled outside Sitka & Spruce.
Jars of herbs and spices at the Sitka & Spruce Pantry.
We peeked through the window panes into the Sitka & Spruce kitchen where cheeses were plated.
Bar Ferd’nand recommended Spätburgunder, a German Pinot Noir. A fruity bouquet, it was a light wine pairing for the cheeses.
Cheese 101 is an introduction to cheese with the founder and owner of The Calf & Kid, Sheri LaVigne.
We chose a table in the corner. Wine glasses were promptly dispensed. We sipped the red and flipped through the booklet on cheese vocabulary and types of cheese as we waited for others. An earthenware bowl of crackers and seeded bread were plenty for the cheeses.
A generous dollop of fig jam.
Sheri briefed us on the history of cheese, her background and why she opened The Calf & Kid. Her love for cheese originated from living in New York where cheese was an ‘affordable luxury’. In 2001 there were four cheesemakers in the Pacific Northwest, today there are more than seventy. The samples selected were European and local for comparison.
Like wine, cheese has terroirs. The characteristics of a cheese are impacted by the environment, the animal’s diet, the cheesemaker’s recipe and method, and the seasons. Every batch of cheese will taste different.
Sheri mentioned that the strength of the cheese has to match the beverage. She likes pairing cheese with beer. Bourbon and whisky add another dimension of flavour. Sheri recalled that goat cheese and coffee are the ‘worst combination ever’!
Sheri commented that drinking raw milk is ‘more dangerous’ than eating raw milk cheese. ‘The concern is listeria which is harmful to the immuno-compromised and can be fatal.’
Clockwise from top:
* Leonora – various producers, Spain, pasteurised goat milk
* Humboldt Fog – Cypress Grove Chèvre, California, pasteurised goat milk
* Fougerus – Robert Rouzaire, France, pasteurised cow milk
* Moses Sleeper – Cellars at Jasper Hill, Vermont, pasteurised cow milk
* Manchego – Pasamontes Denominazione di Origine Protetta, Spain, raw sheep milk, aged one year
* Tin Willow Tomme – Black Sheep Creamery, Washington State, raw sheep milk, aged five plus months
* Gruyère de Savoie – Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, France, raw cow milk, aged two plus years
* Snow Canyon Edam – Rockhill Creamery, Utah, raw cow milk, aged two plus years
* Tallegio – Guffanti Brothers Denominazione di Origine Protetta, Italy, pasteurised cow milk
* Red Hawk – Cowgirl Creamery, California, pasteurised cow milk
* Colston Bassett Stilton – Neal’s Yard Dairy, England, pasteurised cow milk
* Oregonzola – Rogue Creamery, Oregon, raw cow milk
Sheri explained each cheese in detail as we nibbled and I took copious notes. Earthy, buttery, nutty, caramel, mushroom, funky and grassy were all words scribbled on the page!
I was enamoured by these pastel tassels accented by gold and silver tones.
Wine and cheese are joie de vivre!
I did not know who Adam Gopnik was. I noticed he was going to be at both Book Larder and Town Hall Seattle, and the title of his new book, The Table Comes First, piqued my interest. An internet search listed Adam Gopnik as New Yorker staff writer, essayist and novelist.
A crowd gathered on a wintry Friday evening at Town Hall Seattle to listen to Adam Gopnik wax lyrical about ‘how we eat trumps what we eat’.
An affable and charming man, Gopnik read excerpts from his book, discussed the context of ‘family, France and the meaning of food’ and the language of gastronomy, and shared anecdotes of his trip to Spain.
He described food as the cypher to our morals and beliefs. He used the humorous example of sliced local zucchinis sprinkled with fleur de sel versus Ritz crackers spread with cream cheese to symbolise the political spectrum. Our obsession with food is in its nutrition and as entertainment, the human and historical context is missed. It is not just a need or function but it defines who we are. ‘Food is from the soil up, the book is from the heart down.’
Gopnik referenced Brillat-Savarin throughout his speech. France is where the key ideas about Western eating originated. ‘The table is a place where need becomes want, chew with molars and eat with minds.’
‘All primates love sweets.’ Honey and fruit were previously served during the meal but the table has tilted dessert to the end of the meal. Gopnik read extensively from his chapter on Spain. He spent time with Albert Adrià, Ferran’s brother. Being a pastry chef is not just techniques but about developing a library of flavours, and smell and taste sensations. Hot ice cream is the Holy Grail for the Adrià brothers! Tastes change over time. What we eat now would be ‘unappetising in 25 years, indigestible in 50 years and inedible in 100 years’.
Food is our deepest need and represents soft power, our sensory experience correlates with intellectual concepts. Gopnik quoted a letter written by a French resistance fighter and how he remembered the meals shared with his family, the ritual of the table. Gopnik pondered the phrase ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it too’. His response was ‘have cake, eat cake, savour it, remember it’.
Gopnik concluded that ‘cooking is faith that raw ingredients can turn into a meal’. And that wine is a prerequisite to food, for drinking water is a meal for prisoners. Cheers to that!