Highlights from the Food & Wine Event Oct 23October 24, 2018
On October 23rd, the Vermont Fresh Network and Mad River Taste Place hosted an evening to explore the flavors of ice cider, mead, and fruit wines. Eight Vermont winemakers came together with guests from both the general public and industry (including chefs, distributors, and specialty food makers) to sample wines alongside a wide range of foods to discover combinations that went particularly well together.
We focused on the sweeter style of wines - because it would be impossible to taste everything in one evening, and these sweeter options can sometimes be overlooked with food pairings. It’s true that a nice ice cider or ice wine can stand alone for dessert (several people declared it was wrong not to enjoy Lincoln Peak’s Firelight by itself) and some of these wines also make superb spritzers (the Putney Mountain Rhubarb Blush is definitely recommended in that application). But we’re explorers here and we got experimental with food.
A few highlights showing the range of possible pairings (which you can recreate at home):
Cheese. It’s awfully hard to go wrong with a cheese platter. There was not a wine on the list that didn’t get a cheese mention. The plate that the Taste Place put together featured Cellars at Jasper Hill Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Vermont Shepherd Invierno, Von Trapp Farmstead Mad River Blue, Lazy Lady Farm La Roche. Interestingly the garnishes also received good reviews - particularly the strawberries.
Jalapeno Cornbread with Rosemary Buttercream paired with Maquam Pear Wine, Lincoln Peak Firelight, and/or Windfall Orchards’ Farmhouse Perry. We swore that any baked goods would be done from a recipe so that we could share it . . . and you know what, it’s really hard to stick to one single recipe when there’s so much potential to improvise. Here is the baseline recipe for the cornbread, the major change was to infuse the butter with rosemary before making the buttercream. Melt a stick of butter in a small pan with two sprigs of fresh rosemary (or one large sprig), let it sit for at least 30 minutes, strain into a small bowl, then put into the fridge to get solid again before proceeding with the recipe as normal. This trick works with lots of things - fresh mint, fresh ginger root, tarragon, bronze fennel fronds (licorice-y), basil - if you want to get creative with buttercream.
Middle Eastern Flavors paired with Poet’s Mead - Artesano's meads worked well with rose, cardamom, and also tahini. Try these Tahini-Rose cookies or this True Love Cake. It also paired well with the semolina cookies, which were a version of these Mamool cookies, featuring mahleb and mastic as key flavors. Those ingredients are a little trickier to find in your average supermarket (once you develop a taste for them, though, it’s hard not to go to heroic measures to keep them around).
Marcona Almonds paired with Boyden Vermont Ice Red or Lincoln Peak Cassis. If only Marcona almonds were local . . . they’re not. Nonetheless the smokey depths of the Ice Red and the Cassis went well with these treats.
Thank you to our participating winemakers: