I'm excited to introduce a new series called Noshing with Friends, which brings together craft food and simple pairings in the company of good friends.
These articles on Food and Wine, Martha Stewart, Snooth, Metro.us, Serious Eats and The Cheese Shop of Centerbrook were good sources for different elements to include in the menu and various ideas for pairings. I also printed out some of the articles for guests to read during the party.
I wanted to serve a couple of cheeses that I knew and loved-- manchego and Humboldt Fog--and some cheeses that were new to me. In the end, we had a diverse collection of wonderful cheeses provided by the new Provisions Market in Old Town Orange: Lamb Chopper, Fiscalini Cheddar, Kunik, Humboldt Fog, manchego and Whole Milk Jersey Ricotta by Bellwether Farms.
We also had fruit on hand to go with our different cheeses and honeys: apples, pears, cherries, figs and Frog Hollow Farm's beautiful peaches. Everyone adored the peaches, saying that they tasted like no other peaches from around here. To me, they were the ultimate "peachy" peaches and every bite evoked the sweetness and warmth of summer. We also had membrillo (quince paste) to go with the manchego. It sweetness and tartness complemented almost all of the cheeses.
Some pairings that were liked:
Jonagold apples with Humboldt Fog
Manchego and apricot ginger preseves
Fiscalini and basswood honey
Humboldt Fog and buckwheat honey
Kunik and basswood honey
Kunik and orange blossom honey
Manchego and mango honey
Many thanks to all the different artisan businesses that provided their amazing products for our event:
Provisions Market is a newly opened market, deli and bruery in Old Town Orange that fills a need for a neighborhood spot offering a curated selection of craft beer, cheeses, sandwiches and artisan goods and a great place to share a meal with friends. They also feature Sidecar doughnuts, bread by OC Baking Company and soon, coffee by Portola. All the best things in one place. Provisions Market is making and jarring its own jams and preserves on site and will have a rotating line of pickles, jams, jellies, and sauces. Production is just getting going, so look to find these on the shelves in the coming weeks.
Frog Hollow is a farm in the Bay area city of Brentwood that is known for its legendary and organic stone fruit. During one of my many weekends spent at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, I had one of their fruit tartlets at their bakery and loved it. You can order their stone fruit, preserves and other assorted artisan goods on their website.
Ames Farm Limited is a virtual farm with 5 orchards and 18 bee locations spread out over a large area of central and southern Minnesota. They produce high quality, raw single source honey, bee pollen and 20 varieties of apples.
Honey Pacifica is a local raw honey producer located in Long Beach. "In order to preserve the delicate flavors of the raw honey," they make each flavor themselves. You can watch their video "The Beekeeper's Life" and read more details about their honey process on their website.
What is great about this kind of gathering is that if you invite people that don't know each other, the food and pairings are a great starting point for conversation and help people to connect with one another. But then again, that's what food has done historically: connected us and brought us together. Looking forward to the next gathering in our Noshing with Friends series.