The Components of a Cheese & Wine Pairing

At Pennyroyal Farm the cheese varietals yield different flavor notes throughout the changing seasons as pasture grasses mature and days become shorter... While designing a pairing menu for four Spring varietals, I read about their goats on the Pennyroyal Farm Facebook page. The crafting of the cheese varietals and their wines are clearly a passion of Farm life here in our fertile Shire. 

I'm always motivated to create fabulous flavors from our Anderson Valley ingredients. Sourcing seasonal produce from local farmers to blend the perfect pairing combinations is a goal for every menu design. I started with the four cheese varietals and did a little research on their optimal flavor pairings.  I "sketch out" possible seasonal ingredients and then it's a building process from there on.  A trip to the Farmers' Market solidifies the menu a bit more, then a flurry of emails go out to friends who farm and garden here in the Valley.  I'm sourcing the Flavors of Mendocino while trying to support every local business possible.  If I can't find it here I'll branch to within 100 mile of Mendocino and if the ingredient isn't there, it doesn't make it on the menu. Chocolate is an exception that I gladly will make, every time! If someone starts an indoor Mendocino Cacao Project, please contact me.  I make local choices because I'm motivated by fresh flavors and the highest nutrition content closest to their harvest.  I also want to support every micro business possible in our community which results in economic sustainability for our rural town.

Here's a list of the "flavor components" I created for each of the cheese varietals and a little on the ingredients, sourced for the menu.  

With the Lychee soft goat cheese, I paired;

Candied citrus - local fruit from friends who garden

Jalapeno Fritters - local from friends

Balsamic Caramelized Onions - Pomegranate balsamic from within 100 miles.

Arugula Pesto - local arugula and olive oil

Potato Latkes with Smoked Salmon, fennel, capers and Meyer lemon - all local except the capers.  (I'll try a another local pickled flower bud)

With the Velvet Sister, camembert  style creamy cheese, I paired:

Grilled Fennel Bulb with EVOO, Mendocino sea salt and pepper.  All local except the pepper.

Shiitake "bacon" and sauteed Lion's Mane Mushrooms - local

Fig & Cointreau Jam - Figs I canned last fall

Roasted Garlic - local

Sun dried tomato, fennel, fig, current, toasted pine nut  bruschetta  - all local

Italian Almond Brittle - Local herb blends from Mendocino

With the Boonter's Blue cheese, I paired:

Thick sliced pepper Bacon from Round House Meats 

Anjou Pears marinated in an AV red wine reduction syrup and grilled

Spiced Walnuts with a local black Chanterelle powder with Herbes de Provence, olive oil, Mendo sea salt & pepper

With the Boont Corners cheese, I paired:

Dried fruits & Spiced nuts (local persimmon, apples, figs, currents, walnuts)

Fire roasted Apples in a Lemon-Chipotle-Apple Syrup

Blanched-Tasted Almonds preserved in Rosemary infused Honey

Old Chatham Ranch Olive Oil & Pomegranate Balsamic

Lots of local bread and crackers

And as a standard, I included a sweet plate of:

Dark Chocolate Truffle Bark - Jalapeno Rock Sugar - Fresh Strawberries & Blueberries - Candied Citrus - and sun dried kumquat slices with a mound of roasted garlic.

The layers of flavors, "grazing options" are perfect pairings with your favorite cheeses, meats and beverages. Many of these value added products pair perfectly with ice cream also.  Enjoy!