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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Roasted Fish

Have you ever roasted (or baked—here’s the difference*) a whole fish? It’s easy and a lot less expensive than fillets.

Here are the simple steps to serving succulent, low-caloric, healthful roast fish (or grilled, if you prefer). Our tip was inspired by these photos from Eataly Chicago.

1. CHOOSE A FISH

Start with one of these varieties, which should cost around $11-12/pound. Plan on one pound per two people.

  • Branzino, flaky and slightly firm with a mild, buttery flavor.
  • Dorade (a.k.a. orata and sea bream), a flaky white flesh with a rich, succulent, meaty flavor, similar to pompano or red snapper.
  • Rainbow trout, delicate and tender flesh with a mild flavor.
  •  
    Have your fishmonger remove the guts and scales. See the next section, on how to pick the freshest fish.

    Then, choose your aromatics.

    But first, some tips on how to select the freshest fish.

       

    branzino-whole-for-roasting-eataly-chicago-230

    Branzino with aromatics, ready to roast. Photo courtesy Eataly | Chicago.

     
    *ROASTING VS. BAKING: Roasting and baking are both dry heat cooking methods that employ hot air, typically at 300°F or higher. Today the terms are synonymous, but before modern ovens and broilers, roasting referred to food food cooked over an open flame. Today, both roasting and baking are done in an oven, where the heat browns and crisps the exterior of the food. While used interchangeably, each term sounds better for certain types of foods. Would you rather have baked vegetables or roasted vegetables?
     
    How To Pick Fresh Fish

    Here’s the scoop, straight from our grandmother:

    1. LOOK at the eyes. They should be clear and plumped out, not cloudy and sinking down.

    2. CHECK the gills. They should look wet fresh-looking (like pulled from the water), the color red, orange or brown, depending on the fish. If they look dark brown and/or dried out, pick something else.

    3. PRESS the flesh gently. If it springs back, the fish is fresh. If it leaves a permanent dent, pick something else.

    4. AROMA. A fresh fish aroma is fine; a “fishy” aroma or whiff of ammonia is not.
     
    What Are Aromatics?

    Aromatics are herbs and vegetables that release delicious aromas and impart deep flavors into the dish.

    They provide the flavor foundation in many dishes. Braises, sauces, sautés, soups, stews, stir-fries and stocks are some of the dishes that rely on aromatics.

    For roasting fish, you don’t have to use one selection from every category below. We do use them all; but if you want to simplify your purchases, choose just one citrus and one herb.
     
    2. PICK SOMETHING FROM THE CITRUS FAMILY

    Slice it and insert it into the cavity (slice the grapefruit to fit). Buy an extra to cut into wedges for garnish.

  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Orange
  •  

    branzino-finished-roasting-eataly-chicago-230

    One of the branzinos above, roasted and ready to eat. Photo courtesy Eataly | Chicago.

     

    3. PICK SOMETHING FROM THE CELERY FAMILY†

  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Fennel
  •  
    4. PICK A FRESH HERB

  • Basil
  • Ginger
  • Marjoram
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  •  
    Save some extra sprigs for garnish.
     
    †The Apiaceae family of plants is commonly known as the celery, carrot or parsley family—mostly aromatic plants. Others of the more than 3,700 species are anise, caraway, chervil, coriander/cilantro, culantro, cumin, dill, fennel, lovage and parsnip.

     
    5. PICK SOMETHING FROM THE ONION FAMILY

  • Chive
  • Garlic cloves
  • Green onion
  • Red onion
  •  
    6. OPTIONAL: USE WHITE WINE

    If you have an open bottle with two cups of white wine you want to use up, use a baking dish instead of the baking sheet indicated below. Add the wine before the fish.

     
    7. ROAST THE FISH

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Soak the entire fish in salted water for 10 minutes. Pat it dry. If the fish is particularly thick, cut three half-inch slashes on each side, no more than a half inch deep, to help the heat penetrate. Rub olive oil over the surface. Sprinkle the surface and the cavity with salt and pepper.

    2. STUFF the aromatics into the cavity of the fish and transfer it to a rimmed baking sheet. You can cover the sheet with foil or parchment for easier cleanup. If you have leftover aromatics (other than the pieces for garnish), you can place them in the center of the tray and lay the fish on top.

    3. ROAST the fish until the fish is just cooked through (we actually prefer ours rare), and a cooking thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fish reads about 135°F. The skin should be crispy. Cooking time will vary based on the weight and thickness of the fish, but it will be ready to test at 30 minutes.

    4. GARNISH with citrus wedges and herb sprigs and serve. While this article may be long, once you’ve done it the first time, roasting whole fish is a snap!

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Organic Stoneground Flakes

    We first learned of Back To The Roots, an environmentally-focused start-up founded in Oakland, California by two Berkeley grads, when they sent us a Mushroom Farm two years ago. It’s a kit to grow mushrooms indoors that utilizes recycled coffee grounds.

    The company has since created Water Garden, a device that sits over a fish tank and grows herbs; and Garden In A Can, their own version of herbs-in-a-can.

    These are specialty products. But recently, the company launched another product that has a place in every kitchen.

    It’s a delicious, whole-grain breakfast cereal, with the curiously generic name of Organic Stoneground Flakes.

    They’re not exactly flakes, but shaped like tiny bowls. That adds to their charm; but whatever the shape, we love their flavor and the wholesome nutrition.

    Organic Stoneground Flakes are our new favorite cereal!

     

    box-bowl-230ps

    Our new favorite cereal. Photo courtesy Back To The Roots.

     
    WHAT’S IN THEM

    Just three ingredients: organic wheat, a bit of sugar and a dash of salt.

    The U.S.-grown, hard red spring wheat is 100% stoneground, the ancient milling process that preserves all the protein, fiber and flavor of the whole grain.

    The cereal is non-GMO and has a whopping 40g of whole grain per serving, almost your daily requirement of 48g; along with 6g protein and 5g fiber. There’s just a pinch of salt, and a small amount of sugar that balances the flavors without tasting sweet.
     
    MORE GOOD NEWS

    Packaged in an easily recyclable milk carton, the “flakes” are a crunchy snack from the box, a dry cereal to top with milk or yogurt, a crunchy topping for fruit salad, an ingredient for trail mix.

    An order of two 11-ounce boxes is $9.99 plus $2 shipping on the company website.

    The product’s mission is to “pour it forward”: Every photo posted to Facebook.com/backtotheroots generates a donated box of Stoneground Flakes to an elementary school cafeteria.

    WHY YOU NEED WHOLE GRAINS.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

    cauliflower-mac-and-cheese-michaelsymon-castello-230

    Forget the pasta: This “mac and cheese”
    substitutes better-for-you cauliflower. Photo
    courtesy Castello.

     

    Chef Michael Symon has a solution for mac and cheese lovers who want to cut back on the pasta: Substitute cauliflower for the pasta.

    For some time now, cauliflower “mashed potatoes” have been a favorite substitute for mashed potatoes: lower in calories, higher in nutrition.

    In this recipe, Chef Symon does a vegetable-for-starch switch with macaroni.

    His recipe has the creamy cheesiness of mac and cheese (Chef Symon uses used Castello Creamy Havarti), the crunchiness of the bread crumbs, extra cruciferous* vegetables in your diet and and delicious comfort food with reduced calories.

    Make it tonight!

    RECIPE: CAULIFLOWER MAC & CHEESE

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup mascarpone (if you cannot find it, cream cheese will work in a pinch)
  • 1 cup havarti
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • ½ cup chives, finely chopped
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BRING a large pot of water to a boil and add a tablespoon of salt. Add the florets to the water and cook until tender but still crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain well and pat between several layers of paper towels to dry. Set aside.

    2. PREHEAT the broiler to high. While the cauliflower is cooking, heat a 2-quart Dutch oven† over medium heat. Add the cream, salt, pepper and hot sauce to the pot and bring it to simmer. (Chef Symon used 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of hot sauce, but adjust the seasonings to your liking.) Reduce the cream by 1/3, about 3 minutes.

    3. WHISK in the mascarpone and havarti and stir to incorporate. When the cheese is melted and incorporated, keep the sauce at a simmer. The sauce will be slightly thickened at this point.

     

    cauliflower-beauty-goodeggs-230

    Turn it into “mac and cheese.” Photo courtesy GoodEggs.com.

     

    4. ADD the cauliflower and chives, stirring well to coat the cauliflower. Pour into an ovenproof dish; then top with the bread crumbs, sprinkling them in an even layer. Place the dish under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Remove from the broiler and let set for 5 minutes before serving.

     
    *The highly nutritious, anti-carcinogen Brassicaceae family of vegetables is also called the cruciferous family from cruciferae, New Latin for “cross-bearing.” Their flowers consist of four petals in the shape of a cross. The family include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi and turnips. Eat up!

    †Also called a French oven, a Dutch oven is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid. It is usually made of cast iron. In France it is called a cocotte, the French word for casserole.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Havarti, A Great Melting Cheese

    havarti-danishblue-emmirothusa-230

    A tower of regular and flavored havartis. Photo courtesy Emmi Roth USA.

     

    Americans love cheese: atop pizza, on burgers, in mac and cheese. But most of us don’t know that havarti, a Danish cow’s milk cheese, is a great melter as well as a table cheese.

    The semisoft, rindless cheese with small eyes is popular as a table cheese and a sandwich cheese. Now, get to know it as a recipe cheese.

    We actually know who created havarti: Hanne Nielsen, who operated an experimental farm called Havarthigaard, north of Copenhagen, in the latter half of the 19th century. She kept it close, though; havarti was not introduced commercially until around 1920.

    With its buttery aroma and flavor, the cheese was a hit. As it ages, it becomes saltier and nutty, with a slightly crumbly texture.

    Havarti pairs well with beer, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and light-bodied Pinot Noir.

    If you like havarti, also try Danish tilsit, also known as tilsit havarti. It’s a more intensely flavorful version of havarti, but milder than German tilsit.

     
    Like havarti, tilsit is a good melter, excellent on regular and grilled sandwiches, burgers, and delightful melted over potatoes and other vegetables.

    We recommend that you avoid a product called cream havarti, which may sound tempting but isn’t. It’s made from ultrapasteurized milk to raise yields. The process produces more cheese, but alters the taste and texture.
     
    FLAVORED HAVARTI

    Havarti blends beautifully with other flavors. As a result, there’s a wealth of flavored havartis: basil, caraway, chive, coconut, cranberry, dill, garlic jalapeño and red pepper, among others.

    Beyond the cheese plate, how should you serve havarti? For starters, use it instead of other cheeses in your favorite recipes.

     

    WAYS TO USE HAVARTI

  • Breads: Use havarti to make cheese bread, biscuits and muffins.
  • Cocktails: Skewer cubes of havarti as a garnish for Bloody Marys and Martinis. Try caraway or dill havarti.
  • Crostini: Crunchy crostini are a perfect medium for melted or unmelted havarti. While most crostini are savory, for a delicious snack or dessert use plain havarti with sour cherry preserves or Nutella.
  • Grilled cheese and other sandwiches: With regular or flavored havarti. Try plain havarti with Nutella!
  • Fondue: It’s especially fun with flavored havarti.
  • Ravioli: Fill cheese ravioli with havarti in any flavor. Chef Michael Symon makes “Reuben ravioli” with corned beef and caraway havarti.
  • Other cheese dishes: Use havarti in casseroles, gratins, mac and cheese. Consider flavored havarti for even more flavor.
  •  

    crostini-beer-castellohavarti-230

    Havarti crostini with beer. Photo courtesy Castello Cheese.

     
    Find recipes at CastelloCheese.com, whose delicious, award-winning havartis—plain and flavored—are available in food stores nationwide.
     
    Have a great time cooking with havarti!

      

    Comments

    FREE: 5/12 Is Free Cone Day At Häagen-Dazs

    haagen-dazs-cone-partial-230

    Yours free on Tuesday, May 12th. Photo
    courtesy Häagen-Dazs.

     

    Tuesday, May 12th is Free Cone Day at participating Häagen-Dazs shops, from 4-8 pm local time.

    It’s a standard* size sugar cone or cake cone or small cup with your choice of ice cream, frozen yogurt or sorbet in a cup, sugar cone or cake cone.

    Here’s your chance to try two of H-D’s new artisan flavors (also available at the grocer’s):

  • Chocolate Caramelized Oat ice cream
  • Banana Rum Jam ice cream
  •  
    HÄAGEN-DAZS NEW ARTISAN COLLECTION

    With flavors developed by American food artisans, the new collection includes:

  • Applewood Smoked Caramel Almond
  • Banana Rum Jam
  • Ginger Molasses Cookie
  • Spiced Pecan Turtle
  • Tres Leches Brigadeiro
  •  
    Here’s more about the Artisan Collection.
     
    Find a participating shop near you.

    And a smart idea from H-D: Guests who want to purchase items may bypass the line of people who are waiting for free scoops.

     
    *H-D calls it “kiddie size.”

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Brownie Mortarboards

    If you’d like to make a treat for a graduate, how about brownie mortarboards*?

    These, from Sugar Bowl Bakery in Hayward, California, show you how to do it.

    1. MAKE mini round brownies in a baba pan or cut circles with a cookie cutter from a regular pan of brownies.

    2. FIND a rectangular cookie covered in chocolate. We used these, but you can bake your own shortbread or sugar cookies and dip them.

    3. DECORATE with a jelly bean and a piece of licorice whip. Use a dab of chocolate frosting to afix the garnish to the cookie.

     

    brownie-mortarboard-sugarbowlbakery-230

    Happy graduation! Photo courtesy Sugar Bowl Bakery.

     

    *A mortarboard is the square academic hat, or graduation cap, so named long ago because of its similarity in appearance to the plasterer’s tool used to hold mortar.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Green (Pesto) Lasagna For Spring

    pesto-asparagus-lasagna-liguria-eatalychicago-230

    “Green” lasagna, made with pesto and spring asparagus. Photo
    courtesy Eataly | Chicago.

     

    Have you ever had green lasagna? We order lasagna every time we see it on a menu, trying to find one that’s better than Mom’s (which has only been bested once). We find them with the mainstay tomato-meat sauce, southern Italian-style; and with béchamel, a white sauce preferred in Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna (and preferred by us).

    But in Liguria, the home* of basil, they use pesto for the sauce, creating a green lasagna.

    While basil is available year-round, take advantage of the spring harvest and make a green lasagna with other spring treats: asparagus, fava beans, fiddleheads, morels, ramps, and of course, green lasagna noodles instead of the conventional white.

    Here’s a recipe from chef Mario Batali, an owner of the Italian food experience that is Eataly. In Italian the recipe is called Lasagne al Pesto con Asparagi: Lasagna with Asparagus and Pesto (and anything else you want to add).

     
    In this recipe, Chef Batali makes four personal lasaganas in gratin dishes, instead of one large, rectangular casserole as shown in the photos.
     
    *Basil may actually be native to India, where it has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years.
     
    RECIPE: ASPARAGUS & PESTO LASAGNA

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound asparagus, medium-sized
  • 20 fresh lasagna sheets
  • 2 cups besciamella (béchamel, recipe below)
  • 1 cup pesto (recipe below)
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Sardo† cheese
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  •  
    For The Pesto Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 5 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  •  
    †Pecorino sardo, also known as fiore sardo, is a firm cheese sheep’s milk cheese from the Italian island of Sardinia. It’s sold at Eataly; but if you can’t get it, use Pecorino Romano instead. Here are the main Italian grating cheeses.

     

     
    For The Besciamella

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the pesto. In a large stone mortar, combine the pine nuts, basil, garlic and salt and grind with a pestle until it forms a paste. Add the cheeses and drizzle in the olive oil, beating with a wooden spoon. This can be made in advance and stored in a tightly-capped jar in the fridge, topped off with a layer of extra virgin olive oil.

    2. BRING 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Set up an ice bath next to the boiling water. Boil the asparagus for one minute. Remove the asparagus, retaining the water in the pot, and refresh in an ice bath. Remove the asparagus from the ice bath, drain well, cut into ½-inch to 1-inch pieces on a bias and set aside.

     

    pesto-lasagna-eatalychicago-230

    Pesto lasagna is sold by the piece at Eataly. Photo courtesy Eataly | Chicago.

     

    3. DROP the lasagna sheets into the same boiling water as the asparagus. Cook one minute until tender. (If using dried lasagna, cook according to package directions.) Remove and refresh in the ice bath. Drain on towels and set aside.

    4. MAKE the besciamella. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook over medium heat until light golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile…

    5. HEAT the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth and bring to a boil. Cook 30 seconds and remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg and set aside.

    6. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F.

    7. ASSEMBLE the lasagne. In a mixing bowl, stir the besciamella and pesto together until well combined. Butter 4 gratin dishes and place one piece of 5-inch pasta on the bottom of each one.

    8. TOP the pasta with some pieces of asparagus, followed by 2 tablespoons of pesto, followed by another piece of pasta. Continue with this layering until you have 4 pieces of pasta and 4 layers of asparagus and pesto mixture. Lay one more piece of pasta on top, followed by a spoonful of pesto mixture and sprinkle each of the 4 gratin dishes with bread crumbs and the Pecorino Sardo.

    9. PLACE all 4 dishes in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until bubbling and golden brown on top. Remove and serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Spigariello, Italian Leaf Broccoli

    leaf-broccoli-spigariello-goodeggsLA-230r

    Spigariello, Italian leaf broccoli. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | Los Angeles.

     

    If you love broccoli and broccoli rabe (rapini), look for spigariello (variously spelled spigarello).

    Related to both plants, spigariello is an Italian leaf broccoli that tastes like a cross between broccoli and kale. It’s popular in southern Italy, especially Puglia, where it’s called cima* di rape spigarello or cavolo [cabbage*] broccolo spigariello.

    Spigariello is practically unknown in the U.S., but we discovered some grown in Southern California by Jimenez Family Farm in the Santa Ynez Valley, and sold at Good Eggs Los Angeles (and no doubt, at some farmers markets in the area). Internet research revealed a few other growers around the country.

    Spigariello is very versatile, raw or cooked, alone or blended with other vegetables, substituted (or cooked along with) collards, kale and mustard greens, their botanical cousins. The leaf broccoli is sweeter yet more peppery than broccoli rabe (rapini), not bitter—a bit like broccoli sprouts.

    The stems are tender and delicious, and the flowers are also edible. Use them as a garnish with pasta, fish, salads or anywhere you’d like some small white blossoms.

     
    Use spigariello/leaf broccoli:

  • Boiled, sautéed, steamed or stir-fried
  • In salads
  • In smoothies
  • On pizza
  • On sandwiches, instead of lettuce
  •  
    NUTRITION

    Like all of the Brassicaceae, spigariello is very nutritious and full of anticarcinogens. Spigariello is a good source of amino acids, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and selenium. It’s a very good source of vitamins: A, B6, B complex, C, folate and riboflavin.

    The Brassicaceae family of vegetables includes arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi and turnips. Eat up!
     
    GROW YOUR OWN

    It’s easy to grow leaf broccoli. It’s an attractive, high-yield plant that’s grown like broccoli rabe. The leaves are large, like collards, and deep blue-green in color.

    And it keeps on giving: You harvest the leaves as you need them, and the plant generates more leaves into the autumn.

    Seeds for growing the plant, Spigariello liscia, are available from JohnnySeeds.com.

     
    *Cima is the Italy word for broccoli rabe; however, spigariello is a true broccoli, not a cima (rape). It is harvested young, before the stems turn to stalks. Nor is spigariello cavolo, cabbage, although cabbage is a family member of broccoli.

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Use Your Julep Cups For Food

    Don’t put your julep cups away because the Kentucky Derby is over. Instead, think of what else you can serve in them, all year long.

    BEVERAGES

    Serve other cold beverages in these glamorous vessels. Kids won’t drink their milk? Let them drink it from the “special” silver julep cup.
     
    BUFFETS

    Use the julep cups to hold the forks, spoons and knives.
     
    FROZEN & OTHER DESSERTS

    Place julep cups in the freezer to chill them before adding ice cream, sorbet or other frozen dessert. The scoops will stay frozen much longer.

     

    shrimp-cocktail-julep-glass-butterNYC-230

    Today is National Shrimp Day. How about a “Shrimp Julep.” Photo courtesy Butter | NYC.

     
    You can also layer cake and ice cream in the cups, for a surprise ice cream cake dessert.

    And pudding is even more welcome when served in a julep cup.
     
    SALAD & VEGGIES

    Get your family to eat more salad and veggies by serving them in a glam silver container.

    Julep cups are also an impressive vessel for entertaining. Use them to serve anything to guests at a dinner party. They’ll also be impressed by your creativity.
     
    SEAFOOD

    Butter restaurant in New York City adds ice to the julep cup, but instead of bourbon and mint it adds shrimp and cocktail sauce. Can we take some creative license and call it a Shrimp Julep?
     
    SNACKING

    For fancy TV viewing, Oscar parties, Halloween and other occasions, fill the julep cups with snack food, from candy corn to popcorn.
     
    WHAT’S A JULEP?

    A julep is a sweet flavored drink made with sugar syrup, among other ingredients. A Mint Julep also adds bourbon, fresh mint and crushed or shaved ice.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pair Saké With Cheese

    sake-cheese-curdnerds-230

    Buy the cheese, open the saké. Photo courtesy CheeseNerds.com.

     

    Recently, we were invited to a cheese and saké tasting at the French Cheese Board in New York City. Think you should sip saké only with Japanese food? Think again.

    While it doesn’t seem intuitive, the the traditional Japanese drink, brewed by fermenting rice, has a broad range of flavors and styles that pairs with various foods. Like wine, it’s a global beverage.

    Saké is made from four ingredients: rice, water, yeast and koji, an enzyme. Saké is fermented and brewed like beer, but served like wine. It is also characterized as a wine because of its alcohol content is similar.

    Think of saké as you’d think of white wine. A bolder saké can stand up to spicy cuisine, like Indian food. It can also pair well with French dishes. A milder sake is better with delicate flavors like sushi and sashimi.

    Now for the cheeses: Another reason saké pairs well with cheese is that both contain lactic acid. Most aged cheeses go better with bolder sakés, fresh cheeses (like chèvre) with milder ones. With aged cheeses, we personally like:

     

  • Genshu saké, a style that’s stronger because it is not diluted with water.
  • Nigori saké, cloudy because it is roughly filtered old-style, which leaves microscopic particles of rice in the liquid. We also like its hint of sweetness with stronger cheeses.
  •  
    As with white wine, serve saké semi-chilled, around 60°F.

    The journey to knowledge includes trying what you can get, and seeing how you like it. That goes with both sakés and cheeses.

     
    WHAT CHEESES SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?

    Your favorites! We’re serving saké and cheese today, for Mother’s Day, with Truffle Tremor, a truffle cheese; Point Reyes Blue Cheese; Red Hawk, a strong, Muenster*-style cheese from Cowgirl Creamery; and a Brie. The first three cheeses are from Marin County, north of San Francisco; Brie is imported from France.

    If you want to see what pairings others have done, check out the website TrueSake.com, written by a sommelier who recommends his top three cheese pairings with particular sakés; and look for similar content online.

    If you’re not sure about taking this on by yourself, ask your local cheese store to set up a tasting. Here’s a report from CurdNerds on a tasting at Murray’s Cheese in New York City.

    More to discover:

  • Sake 101, an overview
  • Saké terms, a glossary
  •  
    *That’s Alsatian Muenster, not the mild American “munster.”

      

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