A classic Basque combination: sheep’s milk cheese, cherries and piment d’Espelette
Special today at Café Presse:
First of the season Burlat cherries, with Brebis de Pyrenees sheep’s milk cheese and piment d’Espelette grilled baguette slices.
The Burlat cherry is an early-ripening varietal similar to a Bing. Maybe not quite as sweet as a bing but more fruity, firm and delicious. These organic cherries came from todays Farmer’s Market on Broadway.
In the French Basque countries, sheep’s milk cheeses are traditionally served with cherry comfiture, sometimes enlivened with the kick of the famous Basque ground chili, piment d’Espelette.
Very simple and quick dessert: faisselles with home-made red muscat grape jam.
Fromage blanc a la confiture is one of the simplest desserts there is and to my mind one on the most satisfying. The frequency with which one finds fancied up versions of Fromage blanc a la confiture on the menu at high end restaurants throughout France testifies to this dessert’s ability to evoke memories of childhood. Its like chocolate pudding for us…you just never grow out of it.
Consisting simply of fromage blanc served with seasonal jam, honey, or, in a pinch, with a spoonful of white sugar, the success of this dish is clearly dependent on the quality of the cheese and of the garnish.
On a recent visit to Lait P’tits Bearnais, an organic dairy outside Orthez, a container of faisselles caught my eye. Faisselles, like its cousin fromage blanc, is a simple, fresh cheese made by adding bacteriologic culture to fresh milk, waiting for the milk to curdle then draining some of the whey. Fromage blanc is often made using a mix of whole milk and cream, resulting in a higher fat content cheese that has a smoother, richer mouth feel. Faisselles is usually made with just whole milk, resulting in a slightly curdier cheese that has a slight acidic bite. Why not try using faisselles a la confiture?
As there is no AOC for faisselles (or for fromage blanc for that matter), the exact method for making it varies from dairy to dairy. At “Les Petits Bearnais”, whole milk is used. The fresh curds are scooped into perforated cups and sold while they are still draining. One arrives home with four cute little cheeses and half a cup of whey in the bottom of the container (I save the whey and add a little to dried beans or grains when soaking them before cooking. The extra action of the live culture makes them more digestible).
Organic faisselles from le Ferme Lait P’tits Bearnais.
Fresh cheeses in their mold or ‘faisselle”.
Having secured some good cheese, all that’s left is to select your jam. I picked one of the last jars of red muscat grape jam from a batch I made a few years back. Doesn’t get much simpler than that.
Cafe Presse and Le Pichet will both be open regular hours on Memorial Day, Monday May 29, 2017.
Cafe Presse open from 7am to 2am
Le Pichet open from 8am to midnight
Stop by and see us!
Café Presse and Le Pichet were very proud to have been asked to be a part of the 2017 Premier Chef’s Dinner to support the great work they to that the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The gala dinner, that featured guest speaker and culinary icon Alice Waters, as well as a host of top Seattle chefs, took place last Sunday May 21.
For their cocktail hour hors d’ouevre offering, Café Presse chef de cuisine Patrick MacWhorter and Le Pichet chef de cuisine Dave Cooper chose a mini-version of the classic Parisian sandwich, the jambon-beurre. The ultimate in simplicity, the jambon-beurre consists only of good bread, salted butter and jambon de Paris. Their version featured house-made Paris-style ham, sea-salt butter from Brittany, house made brioche and a garnish of cornichons.
Partick MacWhorter (left) and Dave Cooper (right) with Café Presse sous-chef James O’Hern lurking in the background (and doing most of the work by the looks of it).
Seen in the Saturday market in Orthez: a dog who really loves cheese. Clearly a learned behavior, as,right after this photo was taken, he was rewarded with a bite of cheese by the vendor.
This bunch of radishes was grown super locally on an extremely small scale farmer…specifically it was grown in a pot in a SW facing window of our apartment on First Hill. Next up: collards!