Chef Josh Silvers
Syrah Restaurant, Santa Rosa, CA
Stylings of California Cheese
By Ellen Walsh
Photos by Steve Aja
cheese courses are not just for the French anymore.
Josh Silvers of Sarah shows us what he does with
the artisan and specialty cheese of California.
our first tasting, Josh brings you three cows milk cheese. The
sexy, cheese dripping out of the copper pot is Crescenza
of Bellwether Farms. A beautiful silky, soft,
cows milk cheese that oozes its fresh grassy, buttery and slightly
tart flavor, this is an amazing California cheese made in the
small farming community of Valley Ford. Josh chose the fresh
feel of a viogner to pair with this cheese, and so we went with
California wine producer De La Montanya. This 2000
Viognier offers a fruity bouquet of grapefruit, wrapped
in a gentle, pale straw, bright and clear yellow color. On the
palate are pear, melon and peach with a hint of apricot and
a velvety mid palate mouth-feel. Polish that off with a citrus
finish full of oak, and you can see why it was chosen to enhance,
and not overpower, the light flavor of this gentle cheese.
Red Hawk, from Cow Girl Creamery, located
in Tomales Bay, California, is an organic Triple Cream cheese.
It features a washed rind and is aged six weeks. The resulting
flavor, rich and full, lent itself to a sauvignon blanc, or
even a sparkling wine. We chose to pair this cheese with Everitt
Ridge's 2000 Mendocino County Sauvignon Blanc.
Aged in French oak barrels, this clean, crisp sauvignon blanc
comes from the cool climate of the Mendocino County area. The
aromas of citrus, mineral, pear and ripe peaches carry through
to a bold palate. Aging on lees gives it enough body to match
with the creamy texture of this flavorful cheese. Only 749 cases
of this wine were made.
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third cheese on the platter, Pierce Point of
Cow Girl Creamery, made a beautiful contrast to the
first two selections with it's slightly firmer body and spicier
rind. Made out of whole cows milk, and washed in sauterne and
then rolled in dried herbs, this cheese was aged three weeks.
Its mild, nutty flavor worked well with our pairing of Chateau
Felice's 2000 Chardonnay. This I00% Chardonnay,
old vine wine is a family treasure. The color of golden autumn
straw, this wine fills the glass with a cornucopia of fruit
aromas - apple, citrus, pear and peach. The fruit focuses on
the center of the palate and becomes pastry as caramel, yeast,
and toasted oak fill the mouth. A hint of lemon rests on the
side of the tongue as a bright finish. A Russian River Valley
Appellation, only 225 cases of this wine were made. It was whole
cluster pressed, and aged I3 months in French Oak.
from unpasteurized cows milk from the Farmstead Cheese Company
in Point Reyes, California, this exquisite blue cheese
features a beautiful pale white coloring with blue veining.
Its creamy body with a nice round finish and mild saltiness
resembles the French or Danish blues. Nothing other than a big
red wine would do for this pairing, so we chose Rosenblum
Cellars 2000 Abba Vineyard Syrah. This
wine exhibits blackberry and wild cherries, with a full mouth
feel. Smoked game and white pepper are very intense in both
the palate and aromatics, with subtle hints of vanilla and spices
complimenting the fruit.
over to the right a little, sits the St. George from
the Matos Family. This cows milk cheese was aged for
3 - 4 months on their farm in Santa Rosa, California. A Portuguese
style cheese, this reminds you of a cheddar with its tangy,
nutty flavor. However, it's pale color with its small holed
open texture makes it one of a kind, and we paired it with another
one of a kind, the 1998 Sonoma Coast Lebelula Wine.
This hand selected lot of grapes comes from the shaggy coast
of the Sonoma coastline, near the small town of Jenner. The
clay loam soils and long cool harvests create an exception environment
for this wonderful fruit. This wonderful scent, hinting of violets,
cola, the floor of Sonoma's wonderful coastal forest, is layered
with cherry cobbler and citrus blossom. The flavors are rich
and supple, pure and deep, and pairs wonderfully with thc tangy,
nutty flavor of the St. George cheese.
final compliment to these selections was a wonderful, deep,
flavorful Raw Milk White Cheddar from the
Bravo Cheese Company. Everyone we presented this cheese
to said, " Wow!" As a cheese ages and loses moisture,
the proteins harden and form super-concentrated little crystals.
You'll find this pleasing characteristic in aged farmhouse Gouda,
and more commonly in good, aged Parmesan Reggiano. We also found
it in this wonderful cheddar. The ever so slightly crunchy texture
makes this cheese stand out from the others, and also worked
out as the cheese of choice for Josh's Original Apple Pie.
We consider this cheese a find, so we paired it twice.
Once with this grouping, and once with Josh's Original Apple
Agajanian I998 Zinfandel is an approachable
wine that shows nice control. The fruit flavors are nicely proportioned
with the tannins. Very dark color with Port like aromas with
hints of boysenberry, raspberry, and yes, cigar. Technically
dry, but still soft, allowing the full flavor of thc cheddar
to pull through, yet not overpowering it, all at the same time.
1997 Limerick Lane
dessert wine is Josh's favorite pairing with his Original
Apple Pie, and the Raw Milk White Cheddar by
Bravo topped with candied walnuts. This pairing finished
off the flavor profile perfectly. This incredibly special late
harvest Furmint produced only 350 cases. Produced from a select
parcel of clay and loam on the Collins Vineyard, this
dessert wine delivers layers of apricot, nectarine and creme
a goat's milk cheese is a product of the Redwood Hill Farm
located in Sebastapol, California. A slightly firm texture,
this cheese has a tendency to develop a slight mold. It's white
interior with an intense, creamy flavor made this a natural
to pair with Richard Partridge's I999 Cabernet
Sauvignon Napa Valley. Now, this is a cabernet of distinction.
It's dark, reddish ruby in color with great legs. The bouquet
is alluring aromas of blackberry and black cherry with hints
of cocoa powder, anise and spicy vanilla. These aromas coalesce
with the rich. full body's dark cherry and plum flavors that
climax with a long, elegant, finish, making it a natural to
go with this creamy textured cheese.
Chenel's Chevre Cabecou is a pure goat milk cheese
marinated in a seasoned olive oil. This cheese has a semi dry
center, encased by a moist aged outer rind. Strong in flavor
because of the age and olive oil marinade, we paired this flavorful
cheese with Mazzacco 1996 County Cabernet Sauvignon.
This intensely rich textured wine has a firm, tight tannin structure
and layers of concentrated. fresh berry flavors, with a long,
elegant finish. We drank the whole bottle. The complexity of
the Cabecou will hold our interest.
is anything but the macaroni and cheese you get in the grocery
store. A hearty and down home dish that is designed to comfort
the soul, this recipe is too easy to make, and too luxurious
to have every day, all at the same time. This combination of
Bravo White Cheddar, combined with
a little bit of Bellwether Farm's Crescenza,
serves as the base for this wonderful blend. But the
thick slab of Humboldt Fog from the Cypress
Grove Farm out of Eureka, California baked right into the
middle of this treat, makes it the only place to stick the fork
as you reach for your first bite. This goats milk cheese, aged
three weeks has its distinguishing mark of its grape vine ash
middle. It's soft and sexy with a salty, tangy flavor- a flavor
not lost during the short baking process it took to melt it.
We took turns pairing this with a wonderful trio of De Loach
Loach Vineyards, 1999 Chardonnay -
This is a very elegant Chardonnay, offering aromas of Red Delicious
apples, cream and toast. Tropical fruit flavors of peach and
apple blend nicely with oak complexities. Well balanced with
a long crisp finish.
Loach Vineyards, 1999 Zinfandel -
This wine has a velvety smooth entry into the palate followed
with layers of fruit and spice. The long, lingering finish echoes
flavors of blackberry, chocolate and spice. This big sumptuous
flavor prolonged the wonderful flavors in the rich Humboldt
Fog cheese that topped the presentation.
Loach Vineyards, 1998 Chardonnay -
This bright, crisp wine with aromas of Golden Delicious apples
and Bartlett pears, was a lighter rendition to pair with the
Three California Cheese Medley and Mac. The mingling nuances
of oak with a hint of butter served to remind you why you had
given in to such a hearty temptation to begin with. This elegant
Chardonnay is clean and well balanced with a long finish.
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Styling of California Cheese
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in the Details
Chef Josh SIlvers Bio