Best Bites of Brewer’s Plate
Sunday night brought out the beards and bellies for Brewer’s Plate 2013. I put on loose-fitting pants and grabbed Monsieur Fromage for a promenade around the National Constitution Center, a space where civic education and fermentation meet once a year for Philadelphia’s rowdiest night of pairings.
Area brewers roll in the barrels, chefs supply farm-fresh fare, and local cheesemakers spin their wheels. (Don’t hate me for turning bad puns; I blame the new triple IPA, Mrs. Pigman, from Tired Hands Brewing. At 11% alchohol, Mrs. Pigman transforms a humdrum party into a porcine drag spectacle.)
Here’s a recap of the highlights as viewed by one Madame F.:
I never would have paired cloudy ricotta with a tumbler of stout, but Aimee Olexy brought down my night at her special VIP tasting when she trotted out cups of homemade ricotta and granola along with Troeg’s JavaHead Stout. Coffee, cream, and oaty cereal? Yes, please, every morning. Let’s all press repeat.
Stinkiest Cheese Man
What a surprise to find Matt Scott a.k.a. Mr. Hudson Red in the house! Di Bruno Bros. horn-snaggled Matt into serving up samples of his award-winning beefcake (look at that fabulous rind!), along with a new wheel he’s toying with: Hudson Truffle. I learned that Matt makes his living as a wine geek, but his heart is in cheese. Of course it is. You don’t make a garlicky stinker like Hudson Red without some serious dairy dedication.
No doubt about it. Swig a little Mrs. Pigman and bite into a fatty wunk of Red Cat, and you’ve got a squealing tom or a mewling hog, you decide. Birchrun Hills Farm and Tired Hands Brewing hit it out of the park again. Too bad cheesemaker Sue Miller couldn’t make The Plate this year, but her son Randy is always good for talking cows. Randy told me that “Little Chardy,” a heiffer I’ve been following (it was the first cow Randy and his brother bought in college together — and some kids save up for Spring Break!), just had a calf. Expect good cream from Chardy II.
Blue Cheese to Watch
Cherry Grove Farm showed up with a brand new honey: Jersey Shore Blue. I went over the boardwalk for it and brought home a wedge that’s sequestered in my crisper (more on this cheese later). Suffice it to say that New Jersey is on a blue streak (think of Valley Shepherd’s award-wining Crema de Blue). Vacationers can look forward to some very memorable raw milk in the wake of the Hurricane Sandy and Snooki. Amen.
Fair Food’s Alex Jones brought it with cream-colored fishnets and red flats. Where there is wild cheese, there must be hot feet.