Hello everyone! This week, I’m super happy to share with you a cheese and condiment pairing I did with Amy Deaver of Lemon Bird Preserves, styled by Anita Lui! We met at Anita’s beautiful home one very hot, sunny day, and got to styling! I bought all of these cheeses from the Cellar in San Clemente, the very first cheese shop I worked at so many years ago. Here’s what we found:
Fresh House Cellar Chèvre + Rose Jelly
This cheese is gorgeous! I’m so proud to see the Cellar grow and mature in a way that includes their making their own fresh cheese! I paired it with Lemon Bird Preserves’ rose jelly, which I found brought an extra crispness to the cheese. The jelly almost created a rose cloud on which the cheese could ride through our mouths. Afterward, though, during lunch, I tasted some more cheeses and jams, and found the pear with bay leaf and candied ginger also paired beautifully. The pear flavor smoothed out the cheese, and the ensemble reminded me of candied ginger scones and cream.
Abbaye de Belloc + Southern Smoked Cherries
Abbaye de Belloc is always a favorite among cheese shop customers, so I thought it had to have a place in this pairing! It’s a beautiful sheep’s milk cheese from France with a nutty, caramel/bramble honey flavor, and woolly finish. The rind is natural and smells reminiscent of a cellar, or the forest floor. Traditionally, this kind of cheese is paired with black cherries, so I reached for Amy’s Southern Smoked Cherries. It worked marvelously. The pairing was just so well rounded and lovely. The subtle smoke aromas evoked rugged mountainsides. This was one of our favorite flavor combinations of the day!
Kinsman Ridge + Pear with Bay Leaf & Candied Ginger
Kinsman Ridge is one of the great American cheeses, in my book. This particular piece combined buttery, mossy, and bread flavors with a smooth texture and long finish. If you are ever offered this cheese, take it! I found it went well with the Pear with bay leaf and candied ginger preserves. These particular preserves really showed off Amy’s skills beautifully—all of the flavors were blended with such restraint and finesse, I just fell in love with the jar. The pairing was an unusual, wonderfully complex one—the preserves’ bay leaf flavor tied the cheese’s mossy qualities to the preserves. The bread notes in the cheese played off the ginger well. Afterward, with more time to play, I also noticed that Lemon Bird’s Rose Jelly also paired beautifully with this cheese. Try both!
Secret de Scey + Satsuma Plum & Sichuan Pepper Jam
Secret de Scey is essentially a pasteurized version of Morbier (please come back, Morbier!), complete with line of ash through the center. It’s intense, full of barnyard flavors and earthy aromas, with a slightly bitter rind. I loved this pairing because the plums took out a lot of the funkiness of the cheese and, weirdly, added a sort of peanut flavor to the finish. I was able to taste more hay in the cheese with the pairing as well, and the Sichuan peppers somehow seemed to soften the bitterness of the rind. Out of all of the pairings, this is the one where I felt the cheese and condiment were most transformed, resulting in new flavors.
After our pairing and food styling adventure, we sat down to a lunch of Quiche Lorraine made by Amy, salad, and of course, cheese! Anita surprised me afterward with her own creation—ice cream. I didn’t know it, but Anita actually makes and sells small batches of her ice cream. We tasted cinnamon chocolate, fig + cognac, and orange with salted caramel. Each one surprised and delighted me. It was impossible for me to choose a favorite!
Thank you, Anita and Amy, for sharing your talents and flavors with me! Thank you for sharing your preserves and ice cream that day!
Taste Anita’s ice cream for yourself, and look for the brand Pallina at: La Volata Pizzeria: 1453 Ford St #101; Redlands , CA 93373. (909) 792-0316
Buy Lemon Bird Preserves on their website!
Check out the other photos from today’s session! Swoon! Plus, a cameo appearance by Ella, Anita’s adorable pup!