Artisan Cheese Board

            Cheese left to right: Mt. Tam, Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese, Truffle Tremor

           Cheese left to right: Mt. Tam, Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese, Truffle Tremor

It seems my head is still stuck in Petaluma, or at least nearby Santa Rosa. Last weekend we had a chance to stop by Matanzas Creek Winery for a picnic lunch. This is a great boutique winery we visit any time we're up in Sonoma, they grow lavender as well so it's especially nice in June when everything is in bloom. They have plenty of picnic spots so it makes for a great afternoon to bring some sandwiches and pick up a bottle of wine, and they have the most beautiful live oak trees on the property.

Picnic at Matanzas Creek Winery, Santa Rosa, CA  photo by Jeff McDonald

Picnic at Matanzas Creek Winery, Santa Rosa, CA  photo by Jeff McDonald

I'm still sentimental for the Petaluma farm, I wish I had more pictures to share but it was an intense week and I only have a few shots from my iPhone. I love this little lamb!

Cooper Ranch, Petaluma, CA

Cooper Ranch, Petaluma, CA

Cooper Ranch, Petaluma, CA

Cooper Ranch, Petaluma, CA

Petaluma, CA

Petaluma, CA

And while up in wine country we had dinner at John Ash & Co., which was fantastic, we started with a cheese board that was just perfect and I really wanted to recreate it best I could. I loved the pairing of fruit compotes, jams, infusions with the selection of cheese, all of it worked so well. Pt. Reyes blue cheese is so creamy, just sharp enough and simply wonderful, paired with port infused dried figs. Truffle Tremor cheese paired with honey poached pear, I don't think anything can get better than this, creamy goat cheese with a wonderful balance of truffle, yum, this is some serious fantastic cheese. Mt. Tam which was also a must-have-again-right-away kinda cheese, creamy and buttery, paired with persimmon jam. 

Luckily I found all 3 cheeses at the Ferry Building Farmer's Market, the pears and figs were pretty easy to prepare, but persimmon jam was not to be found. I saw a variety of jams and compotes with exotic flavors, but I wasn't prepared to lay down nearly $20 for a jar, so I improvised on that, with a mix of orange marmalade, apricot jam and fresh rosemary, and it worked really well, the flavors have a nice balance with all the other fruit. Cheese information below with fruit recipes. These are local cheeses but I'm sure you could find something comparable in your area, and Whole Foods should carry the Mt. Tam.

Enjoy!

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Artisan Cheese Board
(adapted from John Ash & Co., poached pears from David Lebovitz)

The Cheese Selection:

Port Infused Dried Figs

  • 6 ounces dried figs (about 20)
  • 1 1/2 cups Port wine

Slice dried figs length-wise in quarters. Place port in sauce pan and over medium heat and bring to boil, reduce heat and cook for 2-3 minutes, add figs and simmer for about 20 minutes, stir occasionally, the port should be reduced and thicker at this point, remove from heat and let sit covered until room temp. Store the figs in their liquid (in the refrigerator) and serve at room temp. I'm not sure how long these will last in the refrigerator but certainly a few days.

Honey Poached Pears

  • 4 pears, peeled, quartered
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 cups water (or 1 cup water 1 cup white wine)
  • 1 vanilla bean (sliced and seeded)

In large sauce pan heat the water, honey and vanilla to a boil, reduce heat and add pears, let simmer over very low heat for about 15-25 minutes depending on size of pears, when pears are soft remove from heat and let sit until room temp. Store the pears in their liquid (in the refrigerator) and serve at room temp. The pears will keep for up to 5 days.

Orange Rosemary Marmalade

  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary

In small sauce pan combine the marmalade, jam and fresh rosemary, heat until jams soften and the rosemary has had a chance to infuse, about 3-5 minutes over very low heat.

Pair the Mt. Tam with marmalade, Blue Cheese with fig, Truffle Tremor with poached pears. Pairs well with Matanzas Creek Winery Pinot.

If you have any left over pears and figs they taste really good over vanilla ice cream!

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