If you’re anything like me, you are starting to dream about spring goat cheese. Philadelphia has been cloudy and cold — total cheddar weather — but the iphone forecasts birds, and Instagram brought a crocus this week. To stave my hunger for all things bright and beautiful, I took a break from editing a new manuscript last week to fix a pair of pre-Prohibition cocktails from the new book (another thing April will bring!) to pair with some Vermont goat cheeses I love dearly: Cremont, Bonne Bouche, and Bijou.
Vermont Creamery is featuring these cocktail recipes on their blog this week, and they’re running a special giveaway! The prize: a copy of my forthcoming book, The New Cocktail Hour, plus a basket of these stunning goat cheeses so you can try these pairings at home. Here’s the link to enter.
What are these gem-like cocktails and why pair them with cheese?
Aviation (purple): Made with gin, lemon, and a touch of creme de violette, this cocktail tastes like morning sun on spring violets. The first time I made this drink in my kitchen, I wanted to pair it with a French goat cheese rolled in something…lavender, I thought, or rose petals. That might be too much. With ashy Bonne Bouche, this drink is the perfect late-winter pairing, redolent of minerals and new buds.
Bijou (pale green): Made with Chartreuse, this drink tastes like a monastery garden. The herbal intensity is rounded out with gin, Dolin Blanc vermouth, and orange bitters. Dry, aromatic, and wild, it’s perfect for a small, lush round of goat cheese like Bijou.
Please have a look at The New Cocktail Hour — Amazon will let you peep! I am working on a post all about how this book came together. I’m very proud of it, and I hope it will help you explore new pairings, like herbaceous spring cocktails and goat cheese.
An EVENT with Max McCalman
If you live in Philadelphia, consider joining me at Fork on Sunday, March 6 at 5:30 p.m. for a tasting of natural wines and cheese with author and maitre fromager Max McCalman. I will be a participant, not a presenter. We can toast! Reservations ($50): 215-625-9425.
Dear ones, you’ve probably noticed that my posts are taking longer than usual to set. Thanks for your patience. I’ve been in a curd blizzard of book projects. If you’re confused, let me explain — I’ve been working on not one but TWO new books that will come out in 2016: The New Cocktail Hour (April 2016) and Movie Night Menus (November 2016). Both are driven by cocktails…but, of course, you’ll find plenty of cheese.
March 1 is my last big deadline, then I’ll be ready to emerge from my writing cave and play in the whey with you. Can we still be friends? Here are 3 upcoming events in Philadelphia where you can be sure to find me:
I’ll be moderating a panel (2:25-3:10) called “Cookbooks 101” with author Marisa McClellan of Foodinjars, editor Tiffany Hill of Quirk Books, and cookbook literary agent Clare Pellino from Profile.
Held Sunday and Monday at Drexel University’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management, this conference is a great way to meet the Philadelphia food community, from chefs and bartenders to writers and bloggers. This year’s special guest will be — be still my heart — Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking. (Friends, you know I keep this book by my bedside.)
Fair Food Philly returns to the Kimmel Center for its much-anticipated festival of beer and food pairings. If you’re looking for exquisite cheeses, beer ice cream floats, and more — this is the place for you! Of the many food events in Philadelphia, this glorious bacchanal seems to offer the most dairy.)
Oh, oh, there’s so much more to tell you about come April! Get ready for a cheese and cocktail party to kick off the first day of Headhouse Market AND the city’s first-ever curd festival. More soon!
Have you ever nibbled a morsel of clothbound cheddar and considered pairing it with a cocktail? Until about a year ago, I used to reach for a nut brown ale or a grapefruit-y IPA. Perfectly acceptable. And delicious. Especially for a ploughman’s lunch. But lo, then I sipped a Mark Twain.
A Mark Twain is a cocktail made with Scotch, lemon, and bitters — and when I tasted it, after reading Mark Twain’s account of it in a letter to his wife back in 1874 — I whispered, “Oh, yes. Oh yes yes yes.” And then I went to the crisper and withdrew a bit of Montgomery’s cheddar to let it relax on the counter.
I could taste the pairing in my mouth before I ate them together. The cocktail was bright, a little man-spicy (thanks to those bitters that smell, to me, a bit grandfatherly), with a touch of musty earth from the Scotch. A good clothbound cheddar is, in a word, a grandfatherly cheese: it conjures tweed — slightly damp and musty — but also sweetness, nuts, and citrus zest.
Surely, I thought, such a pairing deserves a special pair of people to enjoy it!
And so, I offer this pairing as a Valentine’s pick for Kim Duty of Cheese+Provisions in Denver, who pre-ordered a copy of The New Cocktail Hour for her partner, Steve. Kim and Steve, may you steal away somewhere secret and enjoy Mark Twain and Montgomery’s Cheddar together with a side of Tom Sawyer.
“Here was a gorgeous triumph; they were missed; they were mourned; hearts were breaking on their account; tears were being shed . . . This was fine. It was worth being a pirate, after all.”
—Tom Sawyer, Chapter 14, pg. 91
Mark Twain Cocktail
2 ounces Scotch (Dewar’s or Famous Grouse)
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup (see below)
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
lemon peel, for garnish
Instructions: Shake Scotch, lemon, simple syrup, and Angostura with ice. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. To garnish, twist the peel over the surface of the cocktail to express the oil. Then, drop the peel into the drink.
Simple syrup: combine equal parts sugar and water in a small jar. Shake until the sugar dissolves. I like to use Demerara sugar (or sugar in the raw), which is best dissolved in hot water. Let the syrup reach room temperature before making a drink.
Want Madame Fromage to pair a special cocktail with your favorite cheese? Pre-order a copy of The New Cocktail Hour, and send the receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with the name of your favorite hunk.
Friends and Loved Ones, as most of you know I have spent the last two years making cocktails for a new book, The New Cocktail Hour (Running Press). Over 400 mixed drinks. In my kitchen. Usually with my brother on Skype, the two of us shaking and stirring in our respective homes (he in Madison, Wisconsin and me in Philadelphia). Alas, our book has gone to press, and though it won’t hit bookstores until April, you can pre-order it. In fact, we’re really hoping you do!
Good pre-sales numbers will let our publisher know that thirsty people want this book! We’re trying to hit #1 in cocktail book sales on Amazon before Valentine’s Day.
SO here’s my love note to you…
Order a copy of The New Cocktail Hour for yourself or someone you love — it includes 230+ classic and modern recipes, organized by era, so you can sip your way through history. Plus, every cocktail has pairing suggestions, from cheese to oysters to chocolate cake.
Order a book, and I’ll come up with cocktail pairing for your favorite cheese!
You heard me right, I’ll create a cocktail pairing for you (or your lover’s) favorite cheese for a special Valentine’s shout-out on this site. It will read something like…Dear Ken, Sue wants to send you a hunk of Stilton with a brassy Manhattan. And, of course, I’ll email you the recipe so you can share it with your hunk.
And yes, we have a chapter on non-alcoholic cocktails!
To receive your special pairing, please email me a copy of your receipt (email@example.com) and the name of your favorite cheese before Feb. 13, 2016.
Thanks a million for your support! The book is available for pre-sales from these fine establishments:
I’m in Ames, Iowa this week, visiting my dad and prepping for a special happy hour to help locals plan a New Year’s cheese board. If you live nearby, come join me on Wednesday, December 30, 2015 for a toast and free tasting at Hy-Vee West (details below). If you’re far away, lean in close and let’s talk. There are four words I want you to remember when you visit the cheese counter this week: 1. Tangy, 2. Creamy, 3. Funky, 4) Salty.
Can you remember those? They’re the four dairy dwarves that Snow White forgot — too bad, because they would have helped her build the ultimate cheese board in the forest. If you can remember all four in the dairy aisle, you will be able to build a fairy tale cheese board that takes your palate on a magical journey.
Think: fresh goat cheese. Wake up your palate with a cheese that’s lemony and light. Your first bite on a cheese board this time of year should remind you of snowfall. Recommended: Vermont Creamery Coupole or a little French number, like Chabichou du Poitou. My favorite goat cheese pairing this year: Yuzu marmalade or lemon curd.
Think: supple and soft, like the cheese everyone’s meowing about this season, Rush Creek. This coveted cheese from Wisconsin reappeared in November, and sources tell me it’s the best Rush ever. If you can’t find this creamy dreamboat, use my fall-back plan: Delice de Bourgogne. It’s not exactly an artisan cheese, but it’s easy to find. And it’s terrific paired with bubbly and berry preserves.
Think: cheese that pairs with meat. This category included softies, like Italian Tallegio, and firm wedges, like Gruyere and Appenzeller. Below: one of my favorite funksters from this year, the beautiful Prufrock from Grey Barn Farm on Martha’s Vineyard. Other favorites: Schnebelhorn and Vulto Creamery’s Ouleot. Pair funky cheeses with charcuterie and pickles.
Think: Hard cheese or blues. You could grab a rugged hunk of Pecorino or a lusty wedge of Stilton or Roquefort. My favorite salt master of the year was Parish Hill’s West West Blue, pictured below. Salty cheeses are fabulous with light-colored honey, fruit, and nuts.
~ Madame Fromage at Ames Hy-Vee (West)
Wednesday, December 30, 2015 4-6 p.m. at the cheese case
Join cheesemonger Darrell Neumann and me for a happy hour tasting. We’ll have bubbly and prepared bites, plus we’ll show you how to build a New Year’s cheese board using selections from the extensive cheese case at the Ames Hy-Vee (West). We’ll also be featuring a special Iowa cheese, plus I’ll have books to sign. Hope to see you at this cheese mecca in Ames!