Vachon Fromagier - Host a Cheese & Wine Night!

As you may have seen, I’ve lately taken a keen interest in cheesemaking. It started a couple months back when I took a cheesemaking workshop with a friend and has really blossomed since then. I’ve made Bries, Camemberts, Bleus, Cabra al Birra, Manchego, Parmesan, Asiago Pepeta, and White Mould Bleus. Some would say it’s getting out of hand… But I enjoy it so much that I decided to pick up my namesakes domain just in case I want to take this thing commercial. So a couple weeks back I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to launch some of my cheeses to the world and also put the Vachon Fromagier name to go use via a winter cheese party!

First was the guest list. And I was pleasantly surprised that most everyone loves cheese in some way, and they’re even more keen to try out a friend’s homemade cheese. The format was simple, I’d provide my homemade cheese along with a few cheese dishes and each couple would bring a unique cheese they bought with matching wine. It was such an easy concept I’m surprised I didn’t think of it before! Here are some of the gems that people brought:

Unpasteurised Barolo:

Belavatan Balsamic:

Pecorino Pepeta:

I decided I would launch my Camembert, Buttermilk Bleu, Brie, Bleu, Cabra al Birra, and Manchego. I also threw in slices of pears, walnuts, and pastes of various origin – quince, fig, and date. And to round it out I’d finish with Crab Mac n’ Cheese, and grilled corn with smoked paprika and Manchego. With my own cheese, of course!

corn with manchego.jpg

I decked out the backyard with a small marquee, tables, chairs, candles, fairy lights, and two outdoor space heaters. It created such a perfect atmosphere for people to relax, mingle, and enjoy some fromage!

I purchased a stack of slate tiles and some white chalk to plate each of the cheeses and it really gave a cool presentation effect.

In any case, here are my heroes of the night. The Camembert, which won Best in Show:

The Brie:

The Buttermilk Bleu:

The Bleu:

The Cabra al Birra:

The Manchego:

In the end, it was an amazing night of friends, food, and drink. I don’t know what their expectations were going in but everyone raved about it the next day. I guess the point is, if you’re looking for a fun and unique way to entertain this winter then host a cheese party – even if you don’t make your own cheese! You’ll be VERY popular with your friends, trust me. :)

Slow Egg and Potato Risotto

I have been dying to try to slow cook an egg and include it in some sort of decadent recipe for some time. So recently, when I was doing some flavour pairing research, I found that eggs go well with rosemary, potatoes, and mushrooms, and that inspired me to modify one of my earliest dishes, my potato risotto.

potato risotto and slow egg.jpg

Slow cooking eggs involves getting a big pot water to 60C (140F) and maintaining it there for about an hour. So, in addition to a large pot, you'll need a cooking thermometer to measure the temperature and maintain 60C. I used my large Scanpan pot and put it on my smallest burner on low and it took about 45 minutes to get up to temperature.

Once you've reached 60C and it has been stable for a few minutes add enough eggs for the portions of risotto you are serving. I'd actually recommend cooking a couple extras, just to be safe. Monitor the temperature every few minutes - if it starts to rise you'll need to add some ice cubes to keep things stable. Let the egg cook for an hour.

In the meantime, start preparing the potato risotto. You should start to cook the risotto about 30 minutes after you have started cooking the eggs.

Once the risotto is complete and the eggs have cooked for an hour, plate individual portions of the risotto, making a little well in the middle. Then gently crack an egg per serving and slide the soft egg on top of the risotto. Sprinkle some fresh parmesan and top with truffle oil. This is an easy-to-make but fun dish. And it's definitely decadent... mission accomplished!