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Which cheese with rosé Champagne?

k
Kelly Nov 24, 2009 12:48 AM

We're toying with the idea of serving gougeres with rosé Champagne for an upcoming dinner as an amuse-bouche, and I'd like to make the gougeres with a cheese that truly complements the fizz. In doing some research, I've come across recommendations for:

Hoch Ybrig
Queso de la Serena
Azeitao
Torta del Casar

Unfortunately, I'm not convinced any of these will be widely available (or that the texture of the last three would lend itself to gougeres). Any other suggestions?

An alternative would be to skip the cheese in the pate a choux and stuff them with salmon mousse and dress with a creamy shrimp sauce (kind of like a sauce Nantua). Better idea?

  1. maria lorraine Nov 24, 2009 02:03 AM

    Rosé Champagne can take on foods with a little more heft and depth in flavor than regular Champagne, so cheese often isn't complex enough. At least for me.

    From my extended field research, here are my favorite ingredients to pair with Rosé Champagne as idea starters:

    Smoked salmon -- a classic, always works. A beautiful platter with it, capers, toast points, creme fraiche or sour cream, chopped egg, dill -- you get the idea.
    Salmon roe
    Salmon tartare, served in a cornet. See the French Laundry recipe.
    Ahi tuna tartare.
    Maguro (ahi) sushi. A mini hand roll is great.
    A *tiny* touch of heat -- wasabi, horseradish, powdered mustard, etc. -- works well with Rosé Champagne.
    Chiles en nogades with a walnut sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, not too spicy -- this is one of my very favorites with Rosé Champagne (the walnuts and pom seeds make it)
    Salami is dynamite, truly -- the well-made stuff; salumi, charcuterie, cold cuts.
    Bacon.
    Beef: rare and meltingly tender, with horseradish cream sauce
    Steak tartare, with egg, lemon zest and toast points. Grind the tenderloin yourself.
    Silky beef carpaccio with capers, truffle shavings, drizzle of olive oil
    Fried chicken
    French fries, preferably fried in duck fat or peanut oil, with a homemade tomato-plum ketchup -- must be made and served on the spot, so a little difficult for the home chef/host.
    Duck is wonderful with Rosé Champagne. A slice of duck breast as a canape of some sort.
    Mushrooms and truffles

    5 Replies
    1. re: maria lorraine
      k
      Kelly Nov 24, 2009 02:08 AM

      Hello Maria - thank you! I knew I could count on you. :o)

      If we continue down the salty/fatty route, how would you extend that into cheeses, specifically? Does that take you toward cheeses like Parmesan, Brillat-Savarin, Explorateur? The last two, while fatty, aren't particularly hefty, as the cheeses mentioned in my OP definitely are. I'd love your take on the cheese front...

      1. re: maria lorraine
        k
        Kelly Nov 24, 2009 02:15 AM

        Me again! Picking up on the earthiness of mushrooms and truffles - does that lead us toward cheeses like a Vacherin Mont d'Or? Another alternative would be your basic Coulommiers/Brillat-Savarin/Chaource/Brie stuffed with truffles, but am trying to think of a cheese where the truffliness is innate.

        1. re: Kelly
          maria lorraine Nov 24, 2009 02:34 AM

          In all honesty, I don't think cheese is the best pairing with Rosé Champagne. And most cheeses with truffle bits -- like sottocenere -- taste like fake truffle, meaning, wretched.

          But I do really love what those near and dear to me call CheezGazm. I spread a very high-quality truffle paste -- like La Rustichella Truffle Pâté (pic below) -- between layers of Brillat-Savarin. You can also use another of the same type of "taller" triple-cream cheeses, something like Delice de Bourgogne or St. Andre. For a party, I get the whole wheel -- the Brillat-Savarin is only about 7 inches in diameter, so it's not so big or expensive. Slice the wheel (or whatever portion) in half horizontally, then spread the truffle paste between the layers, like making a layer cake. Reassemble the cheese, and then I like to find some pretty edible flowers and put them on the top. It's beautiful, it's supremely tasty. It's not called CheezGazm for nothin'.

           
          1. re: maria lorraine
            k
            Kelly Nov 24, 2009 03:01 AM

            Mmmmm.

            Thanks again. The pairing of cheese and Champagne is a relatively new field for me, and I look forward to much future research. But for now, I'll move away from the idea for the rosé and explore some of the other options you suggest. Am toying with the idea of smoked magret de canard on brioche...

        2. re: maria lorraine
          Bill Hunt Nov 25, 2009 07:10 PM

          ML,

          To play off some of your ideas, we've loved fingerling potatoes, cut in half, and scooped out (melon baller), filled with the creme fraiche and topped with caviar. They are great finger food, but could be served in an egg pedestal, to be eaten with a demitasse spoon, or small fork.

          Hunt

          PS - because of the potato skin, these make great "finger-food" too.

        3. carswell Nov 24, 2009 05:32 AM

          Not to detract from any of maria lorraine's excellent observations and advice, but rosé Champagne is a traditional pairing for Chaource, a somewhat Brie-like cheese made in the Champagne region. Not sure it would work in gougères, though.

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