Wine + Cheese


I wish I could say this was my idea, but it wasn’t.  Truth is, it was 100% Peter.  Peter, as in Stougaard.

You may recall the story I told in Episode 33 when, while in our Molecular Cooking class making apple caviar, Peter suggests making the caviar with wine.  So we did, and it was fantastic.  Then, some time later, I find out that Sean Paxton “The Homebrew Chef” made a similar caviar, but with a very nice Belgian beer.

So fast-forward to the dinner party at Ray & Afaf’s house last month when I told Peter that I’d bought a lot of candy molds to start making edible shells with.  I thought these could be made with chocolate and filled with fruit caviar or a host of other things.

This is how quickly the idea came to Peter:

I said “I bought these molds to make edible shells for caviar, and . . . “ and Peter says “Why not make them with cheese, then fill them with some of that wine caviar we made?  Wine & Cheese go together.”

Boom.  Done.   Creative genius.

The shells were made with 100% English Sharp Cheddar.  I bought a small brick of it at Trader Joes, shredded it, and placed into a small sauce pan.  I melted it over low heat until it looked like thick fondue.  I then poured the melted cheese into the cup molds and pushed the cheese into the molds with my fingers until it completely filled them.  This went into the freezer to set.  After 20 minutes, out they came, and a firm squeeze of the molds released the cups.  I left them at room temperature.

For the wine, I wanted something with a bit of a full body, and a lot of deep, overly ripened fruit flavors.  I like drinking Hess Cabernet for this reason.  Easy drinking, very graceful.

For the wine caviar:
4 ounces of 2006 Hess Cabernet
1 gram sodium alginate

For the calcic bath:
18 ounces of water
2 grams calcium chloride

Let me just say up front that this is really a horrible thing to do to wine.  Sure, you want it to aerate a bit, get some oxygen.  But when you stick a hand blender in wine, it’s literally oxidizing before your eyes.  But it’s all about effect, right?  The key is to allow the wine/alginate mixture to settle down before you start making the caviar.  This allows some of that air you’ve injected into the wine to escape.  The less air you have in your caviar blend, the more intense the flavor will be.

Wine and cheese do go together, especially in your mouth at the same time.  The caviar tasted like tart, unripe grapes, but the sweetness of the cheese really helped it out.  Just pop a cheese cup filled with wine balls into your mouth and chew.  It was rich and creamy, with what seemed like an infinite number of flavors happening at once.

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