Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tea and Cheese-A Wonderful Pairing

Recently, I attended an Artisan's Market at Williams-Sonoma in Atlanta. I met up with some wonderful food artisans-some were friends of mine and some I met for the first time. While I was there, I bought some of my favorite products and have been trying them out in my kitchen!  I am thrilled to be featuring these small business owners and their products on my blog.

I LOVE cheese and I haven't found too many people that don't.  The first company I would like to feature is Sweet Grass Dairy.  They are a 140-acre family owned and operated farm in southern Georgia.  Their award-winning cheeses are made from the milk of their very own goats and Jersey Cows and delivered to you with our exceptional quality.

Some may be surprised that tea and cheese pair well together, but they do. You may be wondering why, so I will briefly explain.  The term "mouthfeel" is used by tea experts to explain the sensation that is going on when tasting tea.  Simply, mouthfeel is the way something coats or doesn't coat your mouth.  What makes tea and cheese such a wonderful pairing is the contrast between the astringency in tea (drying sensation) with the fat (coating) in cheese.  Tea's astringency refreshes the palate by giving it a stopping point and counterbalances the cheese. 

After trying several samples, I decided upon their Green Hill Soft-Ripened Cow Cheese.  It was even featured on the Martha Stewart Show.  I thought it would pair wonderfully with my latest shipment of tea from Darjeeling and IT DID!  The buttery rich flavor of the cheese and the muscatel tea with undertones of citrus flowers and peach=Perfect Pairing indeed. 

If you haven't paired tea and cheese together, this would be a perfect start.  Here's a recipe for a pastry encrusted cheese that is from Sweet Grass Dairy. While in the oven be sure to make a big pot of Darjeeling tea to go with it!

1 piece Sweet Grass Dairy Green Hill, COLD
10 Sheets Phyllo Dough
Butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. If you are lucky enough to live where you have access to fresh phyllo dough, then congratulations! For the rest of us, bring phyllo to room temperature, unroll, and cover with a barely damp towel to prevent drying out.
3. Take first sheet, and brush lightly with butter. Repeat 5-10 times being careful not to let raw phyllo dry out in between layers.
4. Place Green Hill in center of phyllo, and cut dough into a rough square that is larger than Green Hill by 3” on all sides.
5. Begin to pull dough to center of Green Hill and continue in a circular fashion keeping dough as tight as possible to the cheese. When all dough has been wrapped around cheese, turn over onto sheet pan or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.
6. Brush exterior with butter and place into oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the phyllo is just browned.
7. Remove from oven, let rest for 3-4 minutes.
8. Serve with fresh salad greens and/ or honey.

In my next blog, we will take a look at another great artisan food product! I can't wait to tell you about all my great finds and how they go wonderfully with tea!

Happy Sipping and Snacking on Cheese, Lisa

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