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Posts Tagged ‘wine and cheese’

Spain and Italy didn’t get along as well as expected this time

Posted by Jim Carfrae on January 17, 2011

The thing about a tapas night, like every pot-luck I have ever attended, there is always way too much food. Two of my Christmas Eve tapas never even got served, (they were fully enjoyed later in the week).

At least my wife reigned me in before I made my planned fourth appetizer for the meal, yes I am a big part of the “too much” problem. Being lazy I dropped the experiment, baked brie with cranberry, pancetta and spiced pecans; next dinner party I guess.

The lack of love was not for the mini-Milano sandwiches which were their usual big hit. It was the Spanish Lustau Amontillado Sherry. While I acquired a taste for it, and it is a beautiful match for the prosciutto; it was simply too far from the accustomed taste buds of most.

If you try it, you must think of it as a tapas wine, it has no similarity to my mother’s sherry. The most remarkable thing is the total lack of linger/aftertaste. The taste happens in your mouth and is then gone, so works perfectly after a bite of prosciutto.


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Italian “Tapas” and Sherry

Posted by Jim Carfrae on December 21, 2010

The Spaniards have done a great thing with the word “tapas”. It communicates so much, and leaves many doors open. My wine expert friend Ramesh recently was in Spain for a course on Sherry – not your mother’s sweet pre-dinner aperitif either.

He tells me, for I know little of sherry, that there are many Sherries from ultra-sweet to bone dry. The dry Sherries work very well with the tapas we might call charcuterie – so this is my Christmas Eve plan given my mother has said we are doing only appetizers.

My plan goes as follows:

Cacciatore – sliced thick and on the diagonal

Mini-Milano grilled sandwiches – my daughter’s favourite and she will make them. (see https://jimmyprosciutto.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/cooking-with-my-kids/)

The proven pleasers, one-bite pancetta cups filled with Caesar salad, (see https://jimmyprosciutto.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/a-master-chef-from-the-canadian-institute-of-culinary-arts-science/)

And for something new will try this “christmasy” idea: http://www.howsweeteats.com/2009/11/25/holiday-appetizers-101-baked-brie-with-cranberry-pancetta-and-spiced-pecans/

And the sherry, per Ramesh’s recommendation is Lustau Amontillado, although I have had to search and source to find.

I promise a full report …

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A great meal at Romagna Mia, with another one coming

Posted by Jim Carfrae on September 24, 2010

We had a team supper out last night. I have had a good meal there before, but last night was amazing for all, especially the calamari and risotto. And the wine, a beautiful Brunello.

Chef Gabriele Paganelli is famous in Toronto, and you might have seen him on TV, for his risotto in a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano. After the risotto is ready he dumps it into a partially hollowed out wheel and stirs in the cheese that melts into the risotto.

We have a new promotion that starts Monday where the prize is the “ladies lunch experience”. 10 people with two friends each go to the shooting of a Cityline show. After the show they will take a limousine to Romagna Mia for an awesome lunch and cooking lesson using our new Cube-etti Prosciutto Pieces. We will definitely have the risotto on the menu. Here is the link if you are interested:


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Share Italian Cheese

Posted by Jim Carfrae on February 12, 2010

Out of the winter wasteland … We just launched a new website at work:


Of course I think it is great, you should check it out. It has a neat discovery map that shows many of the great cheeses of Italy and how to enjoy them. And the with the beauty of the web, we can constantly improve or adjust with input from others.

If you are really into food, you owe it to yourself to try:

  •  Calabrese, it is a Crotenese cheese coated in chili peppers
  • Gorgonzola, in the style of a milder blue cheese, but creamier and somehow better
  • Savello as a milder cheese for all your guests.

Any feedback welcome

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Forgotten Simplicity

Posted by Jim Carfrae on December 8, 2009

I was visiting some friends on Sunday and brought a wedge of aged Asiago cheese. I suggested crumbling pieces with a light dripping of a balsamic glaze. Don just sent a note saying it tasted great, and I am left wondering where the idea came from, and that I should try it myself.

Here are some great sites that provide a little more information, wine pairings and history on this beautiful cheese from the Veneto region of Italy.



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All hail the perfect wine and cheese pairing

Posted by Jim Carfrae on November 12, 2009

Sometimes “my job” can simply get no better!  Yesterday afternoon I was privileged to learn intermediate wine tasting and to apply it to some of our imported Italian cheeses with Ramesh Srinivasan.  Ramesh is a professor at Humber College where he teaches wine to the chefs and restaurateurs of tomorrow.  His knowledge, passion and pleasure in teaching wine have no bounds.  My pleasure in learning was shared by his pleasure in teaching.

Together we tasted and tested the cheeses and wines, applying the matching principles he taught.  The overall rule is to match the prominent flavour of the food to the prominent flavour of the wine, and specifically:wine and cheese

  1. Match the weight of the food to the weight of the wine. 
  2. Salty food requires acidity and sometimes residual sugar.
  3. Higher fat requires acidity.
  4. Higher protein requires higher tannin.
  5. Spicy food, does not like tannin or oak, it does need acidity and sugar.
  6. Sweet food needs sweeter wine.
  7. Ramesh was absolutely clear that this last rule never be broken.  If you like a pairing, then enjoy it.  Everyone’s tastes and preferences are different, there are no absolutes.

The big surprise for me was that many, maybe even most; cheeses are better paired with white wines than red wines.  Really, why is this?  Here is my attempt to explain what is best experienced by trial and error with friends:  except for the aged cheeses, the texture of most cheeses is soft to semi-hard, which generally means a lighter body wine best suits; and the salt and fat of cheese likes the acidity to cut and compliment those flavours.  While there is acidity in all wine, it is higher in white wines.

Here is a couple of the pairing we agreed on:

Testadura is a tangy, salty goat cheese that has semi-soft texture with a bit of graininess.  The best match was an off-dry Riesling.

Crotenese is a powerful, tangy and pungent sheep’s milk cheese with a semi-hard texture.  It paired well with Chianti and even better with a Chenin Blanc.

Asiago, at least a real one imported from Italy, is a hard, aged cheese.  It was beautiful with Chianti and even better with a Zinfandel.

Baiata is a beautiful semi-soft cheese for Friuli, north of Venice.  It has an intense tangy flavour; it is creamy with a bit of mushroom earthiness that is perfect with the youngness of a Beaujoulais.

We didn’t try Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano.  It is well known that they love the biggest, heartiest red wines such as Barolo, Barberesco and Brunello.  I look forward to those for next time.

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