Friday, April 15, 2011

Cheese & Sorghum: A Report from Atlanta

Some people seek out shot glasses when they travel. Me? I don’t buy memorabilia, but I always try to order a cheese plate. I like to sample dairy from different parts of the country, and I store my best memories in my belly and in my mind, not on windowsills or in shadowboxes. 

Before I headed to Atlanta last week for a quadruple nighter at the Marriott and a Coca-Cola hangover, I scavenged the internet for cheese recommendations. First, I contacted a few Atlanta bloggers, then I read a slew of resto reviews hoping for a cheese-cart retrospective, and finally I googled around for James Beard nominations. Then I honed in on two cheese destinations:

Both restaurants had stunning cheese selections online, and the pairings intrigued me. I wanted to be sure I could taste some artisanal southern cheeses, not just a bunch of yankee cheddar. (I'm kidding, of course.)

After oogling the glorious cheese cave at Star Provisions, the general store that fronts this luxe purple lounge, I sat down to a tasting menu that included two Georgia cheeses. First, I sampled Little Martha, a fudgy, salty cow’s milk from Flat Creek Lodge in Swainsboro, GA. It reminded me of a recent encounter I had with a stunning little robiola -- tender, creamy, with a bloomy layer surrounding its satiny heart. First-of-the-season strawberries offset the saltiness, which was pleasant, not overdone. My photos don't do it justice.

Next came purple beet sorbet with fresh goat cheese from Sweet Grass Dairy. The goat cheese was fresh and bright tasting, and the cold, earthy sorbet was a glorious foil. Oh Georgia, I am coming back!

Restaurant Eugene
Two nights later, I taxied off to Restaurant Eugene, headed by Chef Linton Hopkins, a 4-time James Beard nominee. There, amid blooming quince branches and black napkins, I tried a gem of an aged goat cheese from North Carolina, Looking Glass Creamery’s Early Bird.

Chef Hopkins served a pie wedge of Early Bird with a line of accompaniments: spiced peanuts, pickled blackberries, and lo, a swoosh of sorghum foam.

Sorghum foam? Imagine whipped molasses. Sweet, nutty, and earthy – pure genius. When I got home, I wrote the kitchen for instructions, and the folks at Eugene were kind enough to write back with the recipe.

Whipped Sorghum (Recipe)
The recipe is very simple and takes only a few minutes. We use a product called Versawhip 600k to facilitate the creation of the foam. Versawhip is pure soy protein so there are no weird chemicals involved. If you have a Kitchen Aid or other stand mixer, just pour a splash of water in the bottom and add 5% of the total weight of sorghum in VW600k. Stir together and then add the sorghum (or honey, molasses etc.). Now whip on high speed until the volume increases and achieves a nice fluffy texture. 25g of Versawhip and 500g of sorghum yields several quarts of finished foam and the foam will hold its structure all day without collapsing. VW600k has no odor or flavor and dissolves compeltely during whipping so the end product tastes only of the main ingredient. Below are a few links to websites which sell the Versawhip in powdered form, the same that we use at Restaurant Eugene. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly at any time.
Many thanks to Pastry Chef Aaron Russell of Restaurant Eugene for providing this recipe. 


  1. Dearest Fromage,
    I love your approach to travel, exploring places cheese by cheese. The sorghum foam was indeed a revelation. I look forward to it gracing the table at the next neighborhood cheese tasting.

  2. I've never heard of sorghum foam. That is brilliant! It makes me want to head down to Atlanta.

  3. Wow. This post made my mouth water! Cheers to you for your cheese tasting, Madame!