I’m not really sure why I didn’t think of this before, but I had an amazing pairing of a herbed goat cheese and apple cider reduction that was like a party in my mouth at a restaurant in Manhattan. A few years ago, I took a class with Max McCalman of Artisanal Cheese. He is a cheese purist, and feels like cheeses should be savored by themselves. I feel like a good accompaniment can do nothing but enhance the experience — provided the two are matched well. There are so many things to consider when pairing a cheese with an accompaniment, and I’ll go into that in the coming weeks. Usually you start with the cheese, feel out the flavors that are showing themselves and decide if you want to accentuate or balance the flavors. The theory behind this particular pairing is that the spices in the apple cider accentuates the herbs in the cheese – by pulling the flavor out. The result is a delicious, fragrant experience while tasting. You actually taste the flavor of the cheese well because the accompaniment is perfumed as well.

You can really use this with any chevre cheese that is seasoned with herbs, which you can find many times already prepared. The recipe for the reduction is below. (What makes it great is that the recipe comes from my favorite Top Chef contestant, Carla. More on that later…) Lighter, acidic wines are always a safe pairing with goat cheeses. Goat cheeses pair beautifully with honey, because the sweet pulls down the acidity. But this cider reduction is divine. Super spicy, and a perfect end to a meal, for sure. I’d serve this instead of a dessert, with a glass of wine with some acidity.

APPLE CIDER REDUCTION:

  • 1 quart apple cider
  • 4 bags ginger peach tea (herbal)
  • 2 inches ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Combine all ingredients. Reduce to 3/4 -1 cup. Chill and serve with apple pie and a wedge of cheddar or bleu cheese.

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