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Kitchen fancyfood-2

Published on February 15th, 2011 | by Greg

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Fancy Food 2011: Cheese, Truffles, Oil and Vinegar

Last month, we at­tend­ed one of the most fun an­nu­al tradeshows – the Fan­cy Food Show in San Fran­cis­co, an event we’ve at­tend­ed in the past and al­ways en­joyed. Held in the Moscone Cen­ter over the course of sev­er­al days, it draws at­ten­dees from through­out the world and fea­tures a wide va­ri­ety of foods in ev­ery con­ceiv­able form. We tried dozens of in­ter­est­ing bev­er­ages, in­clud­ing black wa­ter, and more chips, cheeses, dips, and dress­ings than should be le­gal to have in a sin­gle lo­ca­tion. We brought back items from four of our fa­vorite ex­hibitors to our tast­ing room, where they faced the tough chal­lenge of a pan­el of hun­gry writ­ers (and friends).

Rogue Cream­ery Cheeses

We skipped as we took home six types of Rogue cheese to try- three blues and three ched­dars. Cave­man Blue is amongst the more nor­mal of the ex­cel­lent cheeses from this Ore­go­ni­an cream­ery, which has been around since 1935. The Crater Lake Blue was the mild one in the fam­i­ly of blues- one of our tasters de­clared it “good for peo­ple who don’t like blue cheese.” Some of use who adore blue cheese al­so en­joyed it. We were in in­trigued by the Smokey Blue Cheese. Ac­cord­ing the Rogue’s web­site it’s the first blue ev­er smoked. The ef­fect was sur­pris­ing and de­li­cious- per­fect for pair­ing with meat, though it was a bit over­whelm­ing for some of our eaters. With a fo­cus on blue cheese, we were im­pressed dur­ing our tast­ings with some of their oth­er va­ri­eties- es­pe­cial­ly the ones that use Rogue Ales. The Choco­late Stout Ched­dar was de­li­cious. The Mo­ri­mo­to So­ba Ale Ched­dar is out of this world, one of the very best ched­dars we’ve tried. We hap­pened to have some beer mus­tard on hand, and in­dulged in a holy beer trio, pair­ing it with the liq­uid ver­sion of the Rogue Mo­ri­mo­to So­ba. De­spite the names and the part­ner­ship, the two com­pa­nies are not af­fil­i­at­ed. The Raw Milk Ched­dar was nice and sol­id, not over­whelm­ing, but held it’s own. Some of their more in­ter­est­ing va­ri­eties don’t ap­pear to be avail­able on­line for pur­chase, sad­ly, but they do of­fer sev­er­al cheese club op­tions.

Mia’s Kitchen Bal­sam­ic Vine­gar Re­duc­tion

One of our fa­vorite snacks is good, fresh bread dipped in oils or vine­gars. Mia’s Kitchen Bal­sam­ic is an in­ter­est­ing change from our nor­mal aged bal­sam­ics. This ver­sion is much thick­er and sweet­er, the pear juice and hon­ey it’s re­duced with ev­i­dent. It con­trast­ed nice­ly with some of our cheeses. We tried it with fresh moz­zarel­la, basil and toma­toes to stun­ning ef­fect. Such a sim­ple way to im­press friends. We’re al­so look­ing for­ward to try­ing it over vanil­la gela­to. The “Mia” of Mia’s Kitchen is the newest gen­er­a­tion in a fam­i­ly of food en­thu­si­asts – she grew up in Sono­ma in­cor­po­rat­ing wine in­to her cook­ing from her fam­i­ly’s Vine­yard- Se­bas­tiani.

Ore­gon White Truf­fle Oil from the Joel Palmer House

Most truf­fle oils are not ac­tu­al­ly made from re­al truf­fles, it seems- but the stuff we tried clear­ly was. The first all-nat­u­ral US-pro­duced truf­fle oil is har­vest­ed by the folks be­hind the Joel Palmer House, a restau­rant in Day­ton, Ore­gon. We learned that the dis­tinc­tive odor is ac­tu­al­ly an im­por­tant part of the truf­fle life-cy­cle, as it at­tracts the an­i­mals that car­ry the spores of the next gen­er­a­tion. Thus, they claim that of all foods, “truf­fles are the on­ly ones that must be eat­en in or­der to con­tin­ue their ex­is­tence”. We have to ad­mit to find­ing the oil a bit sharp­er and more gar­licky than ex­pect­ed- not in a bad way, but one that meant some care­ful think­ing about use rather than lib­er­al ap­pli­ca­tion or gen­er­al cook­ing as one might use olive oil. It’s fair­ly del­i­cate stuff- great to pour over things or use with good bread or pas­ta for some­thing dif­fer­ent.

2010 Lim­it­ed Re­serve Olive Oil from Cal­i­for­nia Olive Ranch

We’ll be do­ing a much broad­er tast­ing of olive oils soon, but we man­aged to grab a bot­tle of the 2010 Re­serve on our way out of the show. This is bot­tled di­rect­ly and un­fil­tered for a pret­ty dis­tinc­tive taste- a bit more raw than most EVOO and def­i­nite­ly wor­thy of tast­ing. Per­fect for non-cook­ing use, we paired it against the cheese, vine­gar re­duc­tion, and truf­fle oil and liked it all the more for hold­ing strong. It’s fruiti­er than some, and at least one writ­er com­ment­ed that it didn’t go as well with some salt, pep­per, and good bread as more fil­tered va­ri­eties. But as far as lim­it­ed edi­tion lo­cal foods go, it’s high up on our list of our new fa­vorite an­nu­al re­leas­es.

 

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.



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