This Week At The Food Counter
HOUSEMADE DUCK RILLETTES
Dylan’s at it again in the Dedalus kitchen, crafting rib-sticking treats to keep us warm in the dreadful cold. Rillettes, coming from the Old French term rille (meaning a slice of pork), refers to a spreadable meat pâté, made from confited and seasoned pork or waterfowl.
This rustic delicacy originated in France’s Loire Valley in the 14th Century, providing a delicious preservation technique before the advent of refrigeration. Farmers packed large ceramic jars, or saloirs, of this precious substance mixed with nature’s favorite preservatives–salt and fat–to keep for long periods of time. Our Duck Rillettes $10/jar is made from New York State duck legs which we cook slowly in fat, then gently shred into a pulled-pork-like consistency. This rillettes is then seasoned with a touch of dijon, chives, salt, and pepper, before potted and topped with rendered duck fat. Traditionally served on toast points with cornichons and dijon, rillettes is a favorite of peasants and princes alike.
For a traditional pairing, look to the juicy fruit and bracing minerality of Domaine De Lery Cheverny Rouge 2016 $18.99/btl. This Gamay Pinot Noir blend provides the perfect tart cherry acidity to contrast the richness of the duck.
For a perfect condiment for this rillettes, I’ve been using the delicious Parisiennes Morello Cherries in Kirsch, cooking down with red wine vinegar to create a boozy, sour cherry reduction–splendid.
CHEESEMONGER INVITATIONAL PREP
In a couple short weeks, I’ll be traveling to San Francisco to compete in my second Cheesemonger Invitational. This epic two-day contest features over twenty rounds of competition among some of the best mongers in the country, culminating in a final round of the top six participants confessing their undying love for cheese in front of a raucous crowd of several hundred tyrophiles.
From cutting and wrapping perfect quarter pounds of cheese, to blind tastings and written exams, this is all I’ve been thinking about in the New Year. In addition to the competition, this is an opportunity to connect with some of our favorite cheese people. From master Dutch affineur Betsy Koster (who selects and ages our Gouda l’Amuse $29/lb) to Neal’s Yard Dairy cheesemakers like Tim and Simon Jones of Lincolnshire Poacher $28/lb fame, this is an international event with some of the best cheesemakers, importers, and affineurs in the same room.
At each Cheesemonger Invitational, participants are assigned cheeses for a high-stakes foodservice round, producing a perfect plate, beverage pairing, and amuse bouche in limited time. Fortunately for me, I’ve landed Vermont Creamery Cremont $11/pc. This local favorite is a double-crème blend of goat and cow’s milk with the addition of cow cream. A delicate, geotrichum rind (the yeast that gives soft-ripened cheese its characteristic wrinkles) gives way to a luscious, palate-coating texture with a lactic tang. This cheese loves mineral-driven bubbles, and I’m thinking about the laser beam Sot de l’Ange “Sottise” Pét-Nat $20.99 or the Chahut et Prodiges “La P’tite Compet” Rosé $24.99. These bright sparklers lighten the richness of double and triple-crème cheeses and provide an excellent complement to Cremont’s briny acidity.
For my perfect plate, I’m thinking about embracing a Niçoise theme and racking my brain for all the conserva pairings I can think of. Sardine salad with La Brújula Small Sardines in Olive Oil $10 and aïoli with Fallot Tarragon Dijon $6? Anchoïade with La Roque Anchovies in Salt $10, Moulins Mahjoub Artichoke Leaves $12, and tapenade with real Niçoise Olives $11/lb? These are the questions that keep me up at night…
Come to the Food Counter and ask for a taste of this decadent cheese alongside some wacky pairings.
You can follow my Cheesemonger Invitational Journey @dedaluswine on social media accounts January 20th-21st.
NEW CHEESE FROM JASPER HILL FARM
It’s not every day you hear about a new cheese from one of your favorite cheesemakers.
A recent conversation with Jasper Hill cofounder Mater Kehler left my head spinning: this Friday I’ll be picking up two new cheeses in Greensboro set aside just for our shop.
Roquefort has long been one of my desert island cheeses. During a semester in southern France, I ate the cheese each and every day–shocking my host parents with my adoration of the pungent sheep’s milk cheese.
Since then, I have craved an American-made sheep’s milk blue cheese with crazy-eyed desperation.
The relatively high fat and protein content of sheep’s milk helps develop especially rich and creamy blue cheese with a piquant flavor attributed to the unique structure of fat. The downside is that sheep milk only seasonally, and produce a very small amount of milk relative to cows.
Think of sheep as old vines
Think of sheep as old vines: they don’t produce much, but what little they yield has the capacity to produce something extraordinary.
Jasper Hill teamed up with nearby shepherds at Bonnieview Farm to make the first ever Brebis Bayley Hazen Blue $32/lb. Just when we thought Bayley couldn’t get any better. This cow and sheep’s milk blend is just an R&D batch, but we hope it’s here to stay!!
Also arriving Friday evening: our first wheels of Extra-Aged Alpha Tolman $34/lb. Mateo was practically drooling when he described the wheels from this July 31st, 2016 batch: sweet and crystalline with a juicy pineapple acidity. Leigh, our friendly neighborhood sales rep, exclaimed, “I swear there are real pineapples in it!!” I’m thrilled to bring these wheels to our counter and offer you a taste. We’re taking all they have and I’m certain these will go fast–please send me a message if you’d like some set aside for you.
Artisan Food Manager