January 2008

spanish new years

Our New Year’s Eve Spanish sampler featured Gramona Gran Cuvee Cava (2003), two Spanish cheeses, drunken goat and mahon (cow’s milk aged in olive oil and paprika), lomo (cured pork), and roasted almonds. The Gramona is one of the few remaining family-owned estates producing cava in the Penedes region. Gramona cavas are aged significantly longer than most cavas, 30 months for the Gran Cuvee, producing a delightful, flavorful bubbly. The drunken goat is a semi-hard cheese aged in red wine (Doble Pasta) and is creamy and rich – make sure to let it sit at room temperature for at least one hour, preferably two. Mahon is a firmer, chewier cheese with a richness and lovely orange hue from the paprika. Salty lomo and almonds were perfect complements.

Chocolate and cheese may seem like an unlikely combination, but a good, bittersweet chocolate can be a perfect complement to a rich, creamy cheese. These handmade truffles from Lillie Belle Farms in Oregon contain the Rogue Smokey Blue I wrote about previously, and are rolled in crushed toasted almonds to complement the nutty, smoky flavor of the cheese. Luscious and pungent, these are truly divine. Lille Belle uses only organic and fair trade ingredients, and has quite a few other enticing flavors.