food 10.2.06

Cheese, Bread, and What to Drink with What You Eat

A little Ecclesiastes with your MUG this morning….
"There is nothing under the sun better for man than to eat, drink, and be merry. Go, therefore, eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with cheer."

Need a cheese consultant? We've got one for you: Martin Johnson of The Joy of Cheese, who does in-home cheese tastings (8-10 cheeses in a theme, two surprises, fruit, chocolate, and cheese chat).

Mr. Johnson has another gig, too. He's put together the cheese program at 10 Degrees, 121 St. Mark's Pl. [1st/A] 212.358.8600, where they hold tastings. The two in October are on the 17th and 24th and will focus on autumn cheeses. To reserve, email, $30. Here's what Mr. Johnson writes he has lined up so far:
Queijo Penamacor is a soft, flaky goat's milk cheese from Portugal with a slightly sweet start and a vegetal, asparagus-ey finish.

Just saying Entelbucher Schwingerkase makes me feel as if I've stepped into a Fassbinder movie. This Swiss delight is full of hazelnutty richness.

Ascutney Mount is more proof that America has arrived as a great cheesemaking nation on par with the major European powers. It's a firm cow's milk cheese from Vermont that deftly combines the nuttiness of an Alpine cheese with a hint of the butterscotch finish you get in a properly-aged Gouda.

Constant Bliss is also from Vermont and it's a creamy, raw milk cheese with a dense, broad flavor and a delightful finishing bite.

Lincolnshire Poacher is one of the great new British cheeses. Made by Simon Jones, on a dairy farm that has been in the family since 1917, the Poacher, whose own history dates to 1992, is fast becoming recognized as England's third great cheddar.

Cravazina is a delectable, soft, creamy, robiola-style cheese from the Piedmonte that combines cow's and sheep's milks.

Tuma Persa is a dense and complex sheep cheese from Sicily with a buttery finish.

That's seven of my ten. France is unrepresented as I'm waiting to see what arrives in the latest shipments from the great affineur Herve Mons.

These are some of the best loaves in town, most baked locally.
Amy's Bread
Bread Alone
Eli's Bread
Le Pain Quotidien
Pain D'Avignon
Sullivan Street Bakery

In that eat, drink, and be merry formulation, you could reasonably rejigger it to 'eat, drink to be merry.' That good wine and other good drink should go with good food is nothing new under the sun. But culinary horizons has have broadened over the past decades, and you can kill a little of the buzz by cracking open a bottle that clashes, rather than harmonizes, with what you're eating.

And that brings today's homily to the just-published What to Drink with What You Eat by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page (Bulfinch, $35). No doubt our favorite fall food book, this indispensable guide is the perfect matchmaker between dish and drink. Dornenburg and Page consulted with dozens of food and wine experts and have compiled such a comprehensive compendium of pairings that no stone crab is left unSauternesed (actually, they say Chablis for stone crab). Having a biryani dish? The authors suggest Pinot Noir. Popeye's fried chicken? You want sherry with that. For Thanksgiving turkey, try a sparkling Shiraz. And if you have a particular beverage in mind, the authors give you a list of dishes that will go well with it. Mr. Dornenburg and Ms. Page don't assume you want with wine everything either: they also include tea, water, beer, and sodas. It all makes for an enormously useful book that's a delight to read.

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