Wednesday, November 24, 2010

POM Wonderful Dinner Party - 11 Pomegranate Inspired Dishes


If there is one fruit I understand..... it is the silky red pomegranate. Apples are passe, kiwis share their name with a bird, dragon fruits are cool looking (but yet not so great in the taste department). However no other fruit is so damn sexy as the round, red, pendulous, juicy and fecund pomegranate.

See what I mean?
If you have been keeping up with my blog in any way over the past two weeks, you will know that all of my past recipe posts have featured pomegranates in one way or another. This post is the culmination of all of those posts put together. POM Wonderful selected myself along with 99 other foodies to compete in a "Pomegranate Dinner Party". My job was  to create an amazing evening filled with pomegranate everything, food, drinks, decor, even "how to" pomegranate opening lessons. You name it... it was to be pomegranate themed.

Fresh Pomegranates and Eucalyptus Branches
I call the pomegranate my long lost love. Sometimes you have been kept from something so long, when it finally shows up in your life, it takes you over, from head to toe. Those dear pomegranates... all 44 that arrived on my doorstep, took over my house for an entire two weeks and have had me seeing red and singing the praises of this magical fruit. Morning, noon and night... they have been on my mind... they are around my house, everywhere I look. Red, magical orbs....cradling hundreds of rubies.... each tiny seed, filled with a gorgeous red juice that makes your lips smack and ask for more.


I invited several friends over for an "ode to the pomegranate party". It was an evening filled with food and drink, all dusted with the magical taste of the pomegranate. The house was filled with pomegranate art and decor. We were truly seeing pomegranates and that was not just the cocktails talking! Thank you Pom Wonderful for selecting me to host a POM Wonderful Party. The dinner was such a creative and artistic experience for me. I was able to let my inner spirit shine! From 6 p.m. until midnight.... we partied with pomegranates.

Toasting the evening and loving my dear friends!
Iced POM Hearts

Themed parties keep one focused, and if anybody knows me, they know I am quite easily distracted. Having my dinner focused around pomegranates kept me in line and on task. It became quite easy and fun to come up with a decadent dinner menu for eight.  Preparing for the party was not so easy. It was quite time consuming and a lot of work. But heck, nothing like a bit of pre-party child labor to move things right along and lessen mother's stress. My darling kiddos....willingly...(ahem... I suppose there was a bit of arm twisting involved) de-seeded 8 pomegranates for me. Once they got into it... there was no stopping them, each one was fighting for the next pomegranate segment. I was going to need each and every one of those seeds for my evening feast.


Old School Thinking = Pomegranates are messy and will stain up your whole kitchen in a heart beat. You can not ask your kids to help you as your mess would be so great, you would be wiping red pomegranate juice off your walls and cupboards for weeks.

New School Thinking = Pomegranates are no longer messy! Even your kids can have fun and complete your kitchen work for you... with a smile on their face. Bye bye stained walls! So long red hands! Sianara mommy stress! Check out the video below for the latest, safest, and cleanest way to open a pomegranate.





Seeing Pomegranates
Menu for Eight
November 12, 2010
Hosted by Miss Megan of Foodalution

Pomegranate Place Cards
Drinks
Persephone's Tears ~ Sparkling Prosecco infused with pomegranate molasses and topped with frozen pomegranate seeds. 
 

I ♥ POM Punch ~ 1, two litre bottle of sparkling lime water mixed with 2-16 oz. bottles of POM Juice, ½ container pink lemonade concentrate and topped with "POM HEARTS” - frozen pink pomegranate hearts. Serve in punch bowl.

Pomegranate Ice Hearts for the punch
Appe “teasers”

Pomegranate Butterserved atop crusty fresh baguette ~
1/2 lb. softened Pasture Land/ Organic Valley or other high quality organic butter

Mix butter with molasses until well combined. Adjust the molasses addition to your liking. Refrigerate. Take out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy on fresh crusty bread, drizzle over warm fruit, saute your greens in this... get creative!

Pomegranate Butter

POM Cheese Dream – Addictive cheese spread ~
In a glass bowl, layer Widemar's Brick Cheese Spread or other tangy cheese spread with fresh pomegranate seeds. Layer two to three times finishing with pomegranate seeds. Serve with fresh bread.... you can not stop eating this!

POM Cheese Spread
Fresh French Tartar Sauce with Pomegranate Vinegar ~ served with celery, cucumber and blanched asparagus ~
1.5 cups mayonnaise
2 TBS minced shallots
1 small sweet pickle minced
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley
1 TBS chopped chives
2 tsp. Pomegranate vinegar
Dash of Tabasco
Salt and Fresh Black Pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate overnight so flavor develops. Served with celery, cucumber and blanched asparagus.

Salad.....

Spinach Salad with Roasted Squash and Hot Bacon Pomegranate Vinaigrette Dressing  ~
1 lb of washed spinach
1 lb of good bacon, fried, grease saved, and chopped into little bits
1 small butter nut squash, diced and oven roasted
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 TBS dijon mustard
3 TBS pomegranate vinegar
sugar
Pomegranate seeds for garnish
Dressing: Take about 1/3 -1/2 cup of saved bacon fat, melt in small sauce pan, add around 3 TBS- 5TBS of pomegranate vinegar, start slow, add more in the end. Add mustard, 2 tsp salt and let come to a simmer. Taste, add salt and sugar and more vinegar to your liking. I have so say, when I make my hot bacon dressings, I do not measure, I use the "taste and adjust" method. Whisk before serving. Toss salad with squash, bacon bits and warm dressing. Top with pomegranate seeds. You will have extra bacon bits. Save and use for a rainy day.

Roasted squash, spinach salad with hot bacon pomegranate dressing
Main Course.... let the feasting begin

Pomegranate Pork Tenderloin ~ adapted from Linda W. allrecipes.com

½ cup POM wonderful pomegranate juice
½ cup freshly squeeze orange juice
2 TBS whole grain mustard
2 TBS honey
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp orange zest
2 TBS kosher salt
2 thin slices of fresh Habanero pepper without seeds

Combine all ingredients in a zip lock bag, place tenderloin in marinade and let rest in the refrigerator for three hours. Oven at 350 degrees F. Place tenderloin in roasting pan. Reserve marinade. Cook tenderloin until internal temperature is 155 degrees F. Simmer reserved marinade and reduce. Take out meat, let rest for 10 minutes. Top meat with reserved marinade. Slice thinly. 
 


Pan Fried Parsnip Puree with Salty Fried Shitakes ~

3 pounds (before peeling) fresh fall parsnips, peeled and chopped into 2” pieces
Kosher salt
1 & ½ Sticks of Unsalted Organic Butter
½ cup half and half
6 cloves heirloom garlic
1 lb shitake mushrooms
pomegranate seeds for garnish

Boil parsnips as you would for mashed potatoes. Drain. Add ½ stick of butter and ½ and ½. Let cool for 15 minutes. Mix well. In two additions, add parsnips to food processor, mix until very creamy. Can be made ahead of time. When ready to fry, take out non-stick pan or cast iron, and add the other ½ stick of butter. Saute 4 cloves minced garlic until just fragrant and then add parsnips and more butter if needed, fold the parsnips in the pan until well heated. In separate pan, while parsnips are heating, melt ½ stick butter and add the mushrooms and 2 cloves of garlic, gently toss and fry. Sprinkle with salt and and taste. Cook until done. This will take about 10 minutes of medium heat. Serve parsnips with with mushrooms and pomegranate seeds

Miss Megan.... preparing the parsnips..
gotta love garlic! I was getting nervous with all the burners going at once.... only one casualty... a wooden spoon that caught fire!
Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Pomegranate Vinegar and Roasted Pumpkin Seed Oil ~

3 bags of brussel sprouts, you will need this much because you will have waste sprouts.
½ stick of butter
pomegranate vinegar
2 cloves heirloom garlic
1 TBS cumin seeds
2 TBS Pomegranate vinegar
3 TBS Roasted Pumpkin Seed Oil
Kosher salt
1 lemon
Sugar

Clean sprouts, slice of bottom and then slice lengthwise in half. Steam the sprouts until they just begin to turn soft. You do not want to over steam as this will make them into mush for the pan frying portion of the recipe. Do not crowd the steamer, steam sprouts in two successive steamings. Drain sprouts. Let cool. Refrigerate until ready to use. You can store them in a zip lock bag. In large saute pan, melt butter and begin to fry the garlic, when garlic just begins to release flavor, add in the cumin seeds. Let the cumin fry for 30 seconds. Add in the sprouts and pomegranate vinegar. Saute for 5 minutes of so, until heated through. Taste, add salt and sugar according to your tastes. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the sprouts. Top with roasted pumpkin seeds oil ,you will not be disappointed. Garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds. 

Sprouts in action...

Desserts

POM Magic Butterscotch Pomegranate Layer Cake

Classic Flourless Chocolate Cake with Pomegranate Molasses ~ Cake recipe from epicurious.com

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
8 oz. Semi sweet chocolate chips
1&1/4 cups sugar
1 cup sifted unsweetened dutch processed cocoa powder
6 large eggs

Oven to 350 F. Butter a spring from pan, 10” works perfectly. Melt butter and chocolate over low heat in a large heavy saucepan until melted. Mix cocoa and sugar in large bowl, add eggs whisk until blended Whisk in chocolate-butter mixture. Pout batter into pan, bake until tested comes out clean, around 45 minutes. Cool completely in pan, on rack. Run your knife around sides to loosen the cake. Release from pan. Cover and refrigerate. Serve with pomegranate molasses and fresh pomegranate seeds. Pomegranate Molasses recipe can be found here in one of my latest blog posts.

Seriously?!
 
The fantastic evening concluded with dessert, tea and a demonstration with a "free trial" of "How to Open A Pomegranate". I demonstrated to the guests, as you saw in the kids video above  the ins and outs of pomegranate opening and de-seeding without a mess. All the guests were also given a "party bag" courteous of POM Wonderful in California. Each cotton canvas bag contained it's very own pomegranates, coupons, a POM bracelet and a collection of pomegranate inspired recipes.

POM Wonderful Party Bag!

The adults learning the "ins and outs" of pomegranate opening!
This pomegranate filled evening was such an amazing experience. It was wonderful to give back to the guests, feed them good food and teach them a bit more about pomegranates. The evening left me feeling so high.... and full of love for pomegranates and friendship! Thank you POM Wonderful for an enchanted evening. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Special Thanks to Gigi... the Queen of the Camera! Thank you for documenting our evening in photos!



Loads of Pomegranate Love and Happy Thanksgiving! - Megan xoxoxo




Sunday, November 21, 2010

Butterscotch Pomegranate Layer Cake

Butterscotch Pomegranate Layer Cake Recipe
This was an amazing cake, a balanced cake. Rich brown sugar cake..... layered with pomegranate molasses and brown butter cream cheese frosting! Tart pomegranate molasses cut the sweetness and gave the cake an extra layer of flavor. The brown butter frosting was creamy and seemed to be the perfect autumnal match for the pomegranate flavor in this gorgeous cake. In honor of my POM Wonderful dinner party... I whipped up this cake.... one of my two cakes that I served for dessert. Keep and eye out for my next post where I will be featuring an entire menu of pomegranate infused recipes, fun photos and my first ever "how to" video.

I have made the frosting for this cake several times. It comes from a Martha Stewart recipe. The frosting is probably my favorite and goes well on so many types of cakes. I used it on this Butterscotch Chocolate Layer Cake... another fine cake that tastes delicious.

I have sore hips and back tonight... they ache... maybe writing this recipe will make it all better.....
I rolled around on tennis balls to alleviate the pain on several pressure points....
I am still sore...
Ouch...
I am going to pour a glass of wine...
I think I am just secretly feeling sorry for myself because I fell in love with a pair of boots I can not afford...(that bites)

Brown Sugar Butterscotch Pomegranate Cake

Ingredients

3 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 &1/4 tsp. baking posder
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 &1/2 tsp. course salt (I use kosher)
2 & 1/2 sticks softened unsalted butter
2.5 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 TBS plus 1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs room temp.
1 & 1/4 cups buttermilk, room temp.

Directions for the cakes -

1) Oven to 325 degrees. Butter 2, 10 inch cake pans. (or 3 eight inch) Lay parchment over the butter. Butter parchment and the sides of the pan, dust with flour and tap out any excess. Whisk together your flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
2) Cream butter and brown sugar in a mixer on med-high until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape the bowl intermittently. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, incorporate each egg thoroughly before adding the next one. Add in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 2 additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Raise speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Divide batter among pans.
3) Bake cakes until they are golden brown and tester comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Remember to check earlier as every oven cooks differently and cakes continue to bake a bit when they come out of the oven. You don't want a dry cake. Let cool for 10 minutes. With knife, loosen cake from the edges of the pan. Invert on cooling racks and let cool completely.
4) Trim up your cakes. Slice your two cakes in half and even out any odd humps or bumps.

Brown Butter Butterscotch Frosting - Step 1

Ingredients

1 stick of unsalted butter
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. course salt

Directions

1) Melt butter in a medium sauce pan  on medium low heat until dark golden brown. You are browning the milk solids...not burning. This will take around 10 minutes. Add the brown sugar, cream and salt.  Whisk together and bring to a boil, whisking constantly and cook for 3 minutes. Let cool completely. 

Brown Butter Butterscotch Frosting - Step 2

Ingredients

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
24 oz. cream cheese, (3 packages)
Brown butter mixture from above.

Directions

1) Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add in chilled brown butter mixture and cream until fully mixed. Chill for at least 2 hours. Remove from refrigerator 2 hours before ready to use and mix again. You want your frosting to be very spreadable.

Pomegranate Molasses - recipe found here Pomegranate Molasses


Assembling the cake

1) Place your first layer on your cake board and drizzle 3 TBS pomegranate molasses over the cake layer. Put a layer of butterscotch frosting on top and add next layer. Depending on how many layers, repeat until you get to the top layer. Do no put pomegranate molasses on the top layer. It will bleed into your frosting. Apply a crumb coat over the entire cake. Refrigerate for 45 minutes. Frost with final coating. Decorate with fresh pomegranate seeds that have been dried off with paper towel. Again you do not want the juices to bleed into your beautiful frosting. Pomegranate seeds are so much fun to work with. They create little mosaics on your frosting.

POM molasses drizzled over cake layer.

Cake layered up and ready for crumb coat.

Crumb coat applied.... awaiting decoration.


Pomegranate seed "beading" around the edge of cake.

mmmmmm...enjoy... the glass of wine is working... Have a super week!
Loads of foodie love.... xoxo megan
P.S. I still want those darn boots...


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pomegranate Butter

Pomegranate Molasses Butter


I am going gaga for Pomegranates and good Butter. After the molasses making in my last post, Pomegranate Molasses, I made Pomegranate Butter. Not a traditional simmered fruit butter like you might be thinking. Instead, I used this amazing new butter from PastureLand COOP in Minnesota. This rich butter is made from 100% grass fed milk. Grass fed, what's that? Grass fed means that there is no grain added into the cows diet until the ground is unsuitable for grazing. PastureLand works with the animals and with the seasons, producing high quality product from milk just gathered during the warm summer months.

Did you know that the flavor of a cows milk changes daily, and the diet of the animals, even the weather affects the flavor and consistency of the milk that is gathered from the cow? Pastureland milks their cows just while the cows are eating the vibrant summer greens and are producing healthy, flavorful milk. SummerGold cultured butter is made solely from the milk gathered during the warm months of summer when the grass is lush and full of life from the sun. This goodness shows in it's decadent flavor, golden yellow color and creamy texture. Most of the butter on the shelves we see comes from a mish-mash of milk gathered from cows who are fed mostly grains and never even allowed out to graze. This butter does not carry the same qualities as butter made only from grass-fed milk.

Try it for yourself. This butter recipe is amazing. The Pomegranate Molasses adds a tart sweet tang to the creamy butter. Perfect on breads, use it in cooking or even as a sandwich spread.

♥♥♥Love Food ♥♥♥


Pomegranate Butter

1/2 lb. softened PastureLand or other high quality organic butter

Mix butter with molasses until well combined. Adjust the molasses addition to your liking. Refrigerate. Take out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy on fresh crusty bread, drizzle over warm fruit, saute your greens in this... get creative!

Loads of pomegranate foodie love...... Megan ♥♥♥


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pomegranate Molasses....44 Pomegranates Later

Off the tree and into the kitchen!

After a long year with it's ups and downs, I had a big moment of up. I was one of 100 bloggers around the United States selected by P♥M Wonderful of California to compete in a pomegranate-themed dinner extravaganza. I was to receive a "party kit" complete with two cases of fresh pomegranates and all the fixings to throw a fabulous party. Could this be real? Somebody pinch me... I must be dreaming. This is the type of thing that foodies go gaga for. (Will I ever be able to use the phrase "gaga" anymore without conjuring up the image of Lady Gaga?....) Needless to say, when I came home from work after a long day of too many squealing kids, unhappy parents and no wine in the house, I was greeted at my front doorstep by three huge boxes....all with my name on it! Squealing with delight, I lugged these boxes into the house and on to my living room floor. (Lug, lug, lug) I ran to the kitchen for a pair of scissors to slice open the box. (ssssssssslice) Reaching inside, moving past all the packing peanuts I caught a glimpse of my new friends....44  glorious , red and shiny pomegranates, excitedly awaiting the touch of their new owner, me!

What do you do with 44 pomegranates? You start obsessing about the party that you will be hosting and how you will fit pomegranates into every aspect of the meal and decor. Obsessing is an understatement, ask my husband. One of the first things I made was pomegranate molasses as I knew it would store well and I would need it to be an essential ingredient in my party planning menu. Stay Tuned....... I will be posting my pomegranate themed party post in the next two weeks. Until then, head to the store for the freshest pomegranates as this is their season
~ xoxo Megan


Stick and sweet Pomegranate Molasses


Pomegranate Molasses
4 cups pomegranate juice
3/4 cup organic unrefined sugar (it imparts a bit more of an earthier flavor)
The juice of 1 lemon

Place all ingredients into a pan, boil and simmer until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, this will take around 45 minutes to an hour. It will still look quite runny in the pan, but when you put into a jar and into the fridge, upon cooling your molasses will have thickened up to a syrup like consistency.


P.S. You can still enter my amazing artisan cheese giveaway.... all you have to do is leave a comment about your personal love of cheese  - Here is the link to the post! Cheese Giveaway!






Monday, November 8, 2010

Wisconsin Cheese Festival and a Cheese Giveaway

Raw Milk Foenegreek Gouda and Marieke's Gouda - Second Annual Wisconsin Cheese Festival

I repeat, I have not always been a cheap date and I no longer settle for lowest common denominator cheeses. (just in case you were wondering) Luckily my husband knows this. My love affair with cheese began several years ago... in a yurt, out in the beautiful rolling hills of the the un-glaciated driftless area of Wisconsin. I met my sweet husband (boyfriend at that time) when he was living in a yurt out at Bleu Mont Dairy. It was he who introduced me to what I now know as...good cheese, award winning artisan cheese.  Every visit to that yurt consisted of a trip up to the main house to greet Willi, Quitas and their  beautiful daughter Inea.... and of course the latest sampling of Willi Lehner's amazing cheese. Ahhhh angels sing..., it was quite idyllic. If my husband had such good taste in cheese... I was going to translate that to his good taste in women!

Yesterday, I spent hours with my other love, more good cheese. The Second Annual Wisconsin Cheese Festival was held November 5th-7th here in my beautiful city of Madison, Wisconsin. The lovely Frank Lloyd Wright inspired, Monona Terrace,  perched on the shores of Lake Monona, housed hundreds of us cheese lovers, aficionados and cheese newbies for this taste awakening event. Cheesemakers from around the state gathered to share their talent of cheesemaking. Where would we be with out the love of good cheese?

How many of us out there have had a date with good cheese? Have you really gone out and searched your local cheese emporium for stellar cheeses that would make you weep, cry out in ecstasy, and even occasionally replace your lover? Wisconsin makes damn good cheese. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to eat my way through the day with award winning Wisconsin cheese after award winning cheese.
 
Preparing for a day of cheese love! Miss Megan on left... and Maggie (cheese hostess) on right.
My afternoon was split into four separate cheese classes. The first of which was The Art of Grass Based Cheeses. Did you know that most of the cheese we eat comes from cows in confinement eating stored hay? Appetizing, right?  What happened to those picturesque scenes of hillside pastures filled with cows eating the fresh grass? Back in the 1800's this picturesque vision was something commonplace. Cows were out in the fresh air, taking in the sunshine and supplanting their farmer's field with fresh manure. Many dairy farms today consist of cows that are kept in confinement and fed fermented feed and kept from fresh grass and pasture. Luckily, here in Wisconsin, grass based milk is having it's renaissance. We are lucky enough to have Bret Paris from Edelweiss Graziers Cooperative who is working with several farmers who use rotational grazing or managed intensive grazing as their modus operandi. These farmers use this rotational grazing method which gives their cows access to the freshest grasses, fresh air, sunshine and exercise. In turn for all of the time in the great outdoors, where animals belong, these sweet cows offer up some of the finest milk around. This wonderful grass based milk is then used to make some of world's best cheeses, right here in Wisconsin.

Bruce Workman-Edelweiss Creamery, Mike Gingrich-Uplands Cheese, and Bert Paris- Edeweiss Graziers
For our first tasting, we were served three cheeses, all made from grass based milk. The yellow butter color of them all was enough to make your mouth drool. Every on of these cheese was superior in taste and texture.

Grass-Based Cheeses
We were also served a chocolate cake topped with a rosette of butter cream. One of the butter-creams was made from grass-fed milk, one was from convetional milk. Can you tell the difference?


Sake and Artisan Cheese was my second class for the day. Sake... what did you say? Sake and cheese? Who does that? I thought you were just supposed to enjoy cheese with wine or beer. Say no more and let me convert you. This class was beautifully laid out, the tables were set just so, the lighting just right, the attention to detail was enough to lure me into this not often heard of pairing. Barrie Lynn from The Cheese Impresario and Kay Inoue from Banzai Beverage Corporation were our well educated teachers for this class. Barrie did a fantastic job paring the more unusual sake with some extraordinary cheese choices.

Plum Nectar Sake - Mikio Takahashi


Cheese paring for Sake

Beautifully laid out Sake and Artisan Cheese Pairing



Sake is strong... don't let anybody tell you differently. I thought I could handle my liquor... until sake. I found that my note-taking ability was a bit impaired after just one glass of this ancient rice beverage. These delicate sakes were a sweet, full bodied mouthful, each one offering up great flavor differences. We were very lucky to have tasted Marieke Penterman's Raw Milk Feonegreek Gouda, Sid Cook's Airco, Joe Widmer's Aged Brick Spread (Cheese Sex), and Tony and Julie Hook's 10-Year Cheddar. Kudos Kay and Barrie... this lovely paring was quite educational, as my palatte was opened even more to new flavors and tastes.

Women do it better... right? My third and favorite session was The Rise of the Woman Farmstead Cheesemaker. Wow does it feel good to be surrounded by women who do what they love and with a passion. I can identify with the passion of a woman..... it races, flows, breathes, rises and falls. Passionate women doing what they love... watch out!  Listening to these three amazing women share their personal stories was quite inspiring and enlightening. Brenda Jensen from Hidden Springs Creamery, Diana Murphy from Dreamfarm and Marieke Penterman (shh...i think i have a girl crush) from Holland's Family Cheese gave us an intimate look at their life and how they came into cheese-making.


I was lucky enough to be familiar with Diana's and Brenda's cheeses. However, somehow... the universe had been keeping me from Marieke's cheeses until yesterday. Please don't let it keep you. Marieke Penterman is an amazing cheese maker and her Gouda was sensational to say the least. Diana's goat milk cheese and Brenda's sheep milk cheese were just as mouthwatering and creamy.  These women love what they do. It is evident in the way they love their animals and their animals love them back by producing some of the world's  best award winning cheeses. Ladies.... thank you for doing something so worthwhile. It is beautiful!

Hidden Springs Creamery - Driftless

My fourth and last class for the day was Wisconsin Cheese & Wine Pairings. After the intake of sake....my cheeks were already flushing. I don't believe I lifted my pen once for this class. (maybe it was better that way). In fact, I am ashamed to admit it... I didn't even take photos. (note to self... when drinking sake, do not expect to get much done besides giggling). I am thankful I am not getting graded on this one.....

The bright side of this tasting was that I was lucky enough to sit at an overly-fun table. I was sandwiched between Jim and Tim from South Chicago, Barry Elkins from World Import Distributors, his daughter Sara  also from World Import Distributors and her NYC Firefighter fiance Stephen (I hope my memory is serving me correctly as the wine was really flowing at this point).  I am thankful for the good company (cheese included) as the laughs made up for the lack of good wine. It only started to taste good after I finished a glass....(then you know you have trouble). Forgive me... I am not French and rarely drink French wines, maybe a good Cotes du Rhone. However, I fancy myself a lover of Malbecs or a Montepulciano. (these obviously weren't offered) The cheeses were fantastic, however the wines did not impress like they could have. 

Never fear... if there is a lack of good wine at your party, invite Jim and Tim. Thanks for keeping me laughing!

I had eaten my own weight in cheese, my pants were getting tighter by the minute and there was still more amazing cheese to eat. From 6-9 that evening, there was the Cheesemakers Gala Event. Thirty plus Artisan  Wisconsin Cheesemakers were showcasing their award winning cheeses. It was Disney Land for cheese lovers. It was like having an affair... the entire day. Mountains of cheese surrounded you. Beautiful displays of blue cheeses, goudas, chevre, all ready to be tasted. 

Mountains of Cheese
Fruit Rimmed Chevre
Pastureland Organic 100% Grass Fed Butter

Cheesemaker Willi Lehner from Bleu Mont Dairy with Barrie Lynn and Kay Inoue
I was stuffed.... I could not eat another bite of cheese. Jeanne Carpenter, executive director of Wisconsin Cheese Originals Festival,dreamy cheese enthusiast, and cheese geek, (as she dubs herself) needed to gather the attention of those attending for a quick thank you.... so she asked Willi Lehner to yodel. And yodel he did. While Willi yodeled... I wo-maned his cheese stand for about 5 minutes. It is always so much fun working for Willi as his customers just beam and rave about his cheeses. Sometimes I wonder it they love Willi more than the cheese itself! It was fun to stand with him for a short while and share the spirit of the evening. Bleu Mont Dairy's Bandaged Cheddar is one of the finest cheeses in the world and his new Alpine Style cheese was a perfect match to the mouth watering Cheddar.

Only a Cheesemaker would wear cows on his belt!

The pièce de résistance of the evening was Uplands Cheese newest addition, Rush Creek Reserve. This cheese was like nothing else I have ever tasted. It was orgasmic as many of the foodies were calling it last night. It carries flavors of fine mustard and jamon serrano. Rush Creek Reserve is a creamy, velvety, young, soft cheese.  Watch out cheese world as this gorgeous cheese guarantees to take several awards this year. Rush Creek Reserve delivers a taste you will not forget. Beautifully bound in spruce bark, this cheese caught the attention of many last night. Congratulations Mike and Andy for creating a cheese with so many wonderful characteristics.

Rush Creek Reserve.... Uplands Cheese Newest Addition
Thank you to FoodBuzz for sending me. I only wish I could repay you in cheese!  Thank you CheeseUnderground for putting together such a fantastic event. The highlight of my Autumn was this festival.

For those of you who are interested in sampling some of Wisconsin's finest cheeses and would like to be entered in my Wisconsin Cheese Giveaway for a piece of Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Best in Show 2010 and Bleu Mont Dairy Bandaged Cheddar Reserve, please leave a comment below sharing your best "cheese love" moment. I will draw a name on Sunday, November 21st. Winner must be within continental United States.

I went home last night and dreamt about cheese... truly I did. Foodies mark your calendars, next years cheese festival will be held at the Monona Terrace in Madison, Nov. 4th-6th.  I will be there!  Foodie love from Wisconsin! xoxoxo Megs ♥♥♥