Change often brings about an element of both excitement and fear. However, change remains a constant element of life that defines who we become. Many of you are familiar with the Noble House Foundation since we began working with it over a year ago and how Noble House supports the change many American Soldiers have experienced through the wounds of combat. Your encouragement and contributions have made it possible for Noble House Foundation to grow into a force to make a positive change as these American Heroes rehabilitate themselves and transition back into the mainstream of American Life.
Today, Scott and I are making a change and commitment to Noble House, and the lives of these wonderful men and women. Part of that commitment means that we must commit to a change for Christopher’s Wine & Cheese. As Noble House has grown we have labored over how to balance the experience of our customers in the shop and the soldiers we serve through Noble House. Hence, we have sought the right person to operate Christopher’s Wine and Cheese to assure our customers get the best service as possible.
As though written in the stars, Sharon Crisman asked about acquiring the wine shop while tasting trough one of our wine flights. As a customer, she appreciates what we have developed as an experience in the shop and shares our love of wine, cheese, and the service we strive to provide people. We continued that conversation until this morning; when Sharon became the new owner of Christopher’s Wine & Cheese.
We appreciate the love and support of every customer and friend we have made over the years and find solace that such a wonderful person as Sharon will experience the same fantastic support from all of you. We will be working with Sharon over the next month as we move into a more extensive role with the Noble House Foundation and hope to see everyone again to introduce you to Sharon personally and enrich the family of wine lovers through sharing a glass one more time.
We hope you will come see us, support Christopher’s Wine & Cheese, Sharon and Noble House Foundation for years to come. Until we see each other again, we raise our glasses and toast you for being a wonderful part of a wonderful experience and supporting a wonderful opportunity for all these positive changes!
Iberico is one of the best known and most purchased cheeses in Spain, but it does not have very much exposure in the United States. Here in the states Manchego is the most familiar Spanish cheese followed by Mahon and Idiazabal. So we hope to shed a little light on this wonderful cheese and expose our readers to it.
Iberico cheese is produced only in the province of Valladolid in central Spain. In order to maintain some semblance of order and control of its large cheese production the Spanish government created the Denominations of Origin Certification. This designation controls the name, area, and standards of production to insure a consistent quality product. Iberico is not yet DOC certified but it has applied for certification and hopes to receive it soon. However the dairies that produce this cheese have maintained their own high standards and guidelines since 1987.
Iberico is made with a blend of pasteurized milk from cows, goats and sheep. The combination of these three milks varies from season to season based on the weather and the breeding patterns of the goats and sheep. However the following minimum guidelines are strictly adhered to by the producing dairies. The blend minimums are: cow milk 50%, goat milk 30% and sheep milk 10% In general the cows’ milk provides the flavor and acidity while the goats’ milk provides the slightly tart flavor and the whiter color and the sheep milk adds the richness and buttery consistency due to its higher fat content. With that said, the fact is that the higher the content of the sheep’s’ milk the better the cheese. Iberico’s flavor is herbaceous with a very mild goat tang that blends with the buttery sheep milk to produce a very comforting flavor and aroma. The interior paste has a light yellow white to slight beige color and a mild sheepy aroma. Once the aging 2 month process ends the cheeses are covered with a plastic outer rind that is inedible. This rind is similar in appearance to the one that covers the popular Manchego so Iberico can and is sometimes confused with it, so be careful when you are shopping for it.
In Spain Iberico is usually used as a table cheese served with quince paste (membrillo) but it is also a great melting cheese so it can be used in many recipes. Here are a few suggestions: shred it in an omelet, slice into your favorite salads, melt it over pasta or potatoes and rice entrees. For a tapas serve it with Chorizo or Serrano ham and a hearty bread.
Wine parings: Medium Spanish reds or a good Pinot Noir or Beaujolais or for a white wine try Sauvignon Blanc
Our little village about 10 years ago recognized that April was a month that was under-appreciated in our part of the mountains. Along with several neighbors and friends we sought out a way to bring April as a month to be looked forward to for visiting the small village of Blowing Rock, NC. Jimmy Crippen, Scott and myself concocted the idea of a wine festival over drinks one evening while we were waiting for our table. The chamber of commerce became the logical body to bring this idea to life and after almost a year of debate and committee work a budget was set and a dream began to come to life.
While I can claim to know a bit about wine, I am not a restaurateur, but Jimmy was. He helped get the other food services lined up for winemaker’s dinners and conceptualized a brilliant competition for the local chefs of the area…and Fire on the Rock was Born!
That concept has grown to a “Competition Dining Series” across the state of North Carolina since then. Where we as diners vote on blind tasting of plates prepared by the best chefs across the region culminating in a state-wide competition of “Iron Chef Style Dining”. For many people, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity; at least until you try it the first time and become addicted to the rush of judging the work of the best chefs.
Fire on the Rock begins again this Monday (08 April 2013) in Blowing Rock. Is there any better reason for you to come into town early for the Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival than to participate in this taste challenge? If you want to experience the flavors of this competition in its birthplace, this is your opportunity! Reservations are simple and easy as clicking on this link for the Fire on the Rock 2013 Competition… and now with the festival and Fire on the Rock, you have all the reasons you need to come visit our little village in April every year!
Life is full of surprises that keep things interesting. Sometimes it’s a good thing to take steps to assure those surprises as live evolves are good things that we can rest assured that we will enjoy, today we are offering such an opportunity to you! Today, we offer you a “Grab Bag Special” of wine!
We have attained an inventory of some really great wines at phenomenal prices and want to share this pricing with those of you who have supported us online over the years. We are offering you a grab bag case of wine valued at over $150.00 retail for a price of $120.00. There are only a dozen or so of these grab bags available and this offer will expire Wednesday (13 February 2013: noon). While you’re enjoying your Sunday afternoon with the family, think how great it would be to have the ability to reach over and pop a bottle open without the guilt of it being too expensive and yet know you’re getting a great wine regardless of which bottle you pick out! Click here to go straight to our site to order your grab bag of fantastic wine!
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 medium garlic cloves, very finely chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 pound carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon chile powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- One 14-ounce can peeled Italian tomatoes
- 1 canned chipotle in adobo, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup canned hominy, drained
- 1 cup canned red kidney beans, drained
- Brown rice, chopped red onions, cilantro, sour cream and tortilla chips or bread toasts, for serving
- In a medium, heavy enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper, parsnips and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chile powder and cumin and season with salt. Cook for 1 minute.
- In a blender, puree the tomatoes and their juices with the chipotle, adobo sauce and water until very smooth. Add the mixture to the casserole along with the hominy and beans and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer the chili over moderate heat until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Season with salt. Serve with rice, red onions, cilantro, sour cream and chips.
In pairing a wine with this dish, we recommend going with a hearty red wine with adequate fruit to balance out the heat, such as a Mencia or Syrah. If you’re a dedicated white wine drinker, never fear as a Pinot Blanc or Godello will pair wonderfully as well!
Epoisses is actually a French word meaning “completely worth the effort”—either that or “stinky but incredibly loveable.” We’re proud of the special attention they lovingly lavish on these cave-aged wheels–weekly baths with fruity Marc de Bourgogne (a traditional brandy made from the pomace of Burgundian wines) in their specially constructed temperature and humidity controlled caves, where Cave-Aged Epoisses is doted on by a team of trained professionals—because the end result, a custardy bacon bomb, is oh-so-worth-it. One slurp of the intensely creamy paste of our cave-aged version of this French classic, and you’ll know why they go to such lengths to ensure that this unctuous pasteurized cow’s milk round, made in Burgundy, France, is so delightfully decadent. After near extinction in France during the World Wars, Epoisses de Bourgogne was resurrected in the 1950′s by the beloved M. Berthaut. After being carefully hand-ladled into forms and dry-salted, each wheel takes a turn in French cave before aging to its peak in ours. Tucked into a clever wooden box meant to ease transport to our fair shores, serving Epoisses isn’t nearly as difficult as aging it—slice a crusty baguette and dunk away, adding a glass of Burgundian white for terroir-driven perfection.
We recommend pairing this cheese against a more acidic, lighter style of wine such as a Burgundy (Pinot Noir), or an Unoaked Chardonnay.
In our quest to find the highest quality wines at value prices, we blindly stumbled on the Alma Negra Wines from Mendoza Argentina. This particular Blend is named “MISTERIO” and overall, the blend is kept a mystery as the name indicates. The tale of this wine begins with the winery owner, Ernesto Catena, begins by selecting a Bonardo Base and a secondary wine to blend leaving his winemakers, Gustavo Marin and Jose Reginato, to select the complimentary wines to add to the blend leaving everyone blind as to the final blend.
“MISTERIO” is dictated as much by the art as the science and proves a huge red wine dominated by the Bonardo and Malbec variatals with a healthy dose of Petite Verdot. While needing ample time to relax and fully bloom upon opening, the wine presents an enormous bouquet of toasted oak and oriental spices and deep floral aromas. The color is a deep crimson hue with vibrant detraction of light that radiates and sparkles beyond the ability of most wines. The body, or weight of this wine is medium-heavy presenting on the fore of the tongue with light blackberry jam that erupts on the crest of the tongue into brilliant cassis, black berries, and black cherries transcending on the finish with a light leather riddled spiciness that cascades into a lovely finish of mocha and spice.
While this wine has the ability to knock your socks off today, it also has the ability to age into maturity from now until 2025 when it will deepen in its intensity and become more subtle in its nature. Like a good lover, this wine has the potential to make you smile for many years to come.