Sunday, August 29, 2010

Black Castello: Matchmaking with Blues

Yesterday, I teamed up with Marisa McClellan of to pair cheese'n pickles. It wasn't easy to find cheeses that could stand up to a vinegary mate, but we put together a beautiful tasting for about eight people at my neighborhood cheese shop, Quince. The real hit of the party was this luxurious blue, a Danish triple-creme with a shock of black mold for a rind. It cries out for fresh figs, but it also cuddled right up to pickled cherries. Marisa's batch was woodsy, thanks to the bay leaves in her recipe.
Pairing cheeses can be like setting your friends up on blind dates -- you have to take a few risks. I knew that Marisa was keen to crack into some pickled garlic scapes she made in spring, but I wasn't sure exactly what kind of cheese could handle that much snap and pucker. Turns out, a clayey goat cheese called Leonora was game. Leonora, an aged goat cheese from a single maker in Spain, had just the grassy, citrusy notes to tangle with a scape. (A scape is the green shoot that roars out of planted garlic in spring.)
With the fruits that are in season this time of year, these two cheeses should be your single friends. Pair them up with Asian pears or peaches -- Leonora would love that. You could add a drizzle of dark honey, and she'd lose her mind. Fresh figs or ripe plums would work, too. Black Castello takes to figs and honey, but you could also nestle it against ripe pears, toasted walnuts, fig-onion jam, apple chutney.

Black Castello is a triple-creme made from a mixture of cow's milk and sheep's milk. It's a perfect blue for beginners and tweens. No sharp hook. No bitter zing. It's all cream and conversation, and the taste doesn't linger in your mouth. If you want to impress your friends, spread it on toasted bread with pickled cherries or ripe fig halves, and top it with a sprig of rosemary. Now, that's love.

If you live in Philly and you'd like to join me for a tasting at Quince, come out of hiding! Here's a list of upcoming dates, along with with a few photos from yesterday.

Upcoming Tastings
September 18, Cheese, Apples & Ale
October 23, Warm Cheese Appetizers
November 20, Thanksgiving Cheese Plate
December 18, Holiday Cheese Pairings
January 22, Fondu
To reserve, please email Nicole at


  1. Tenaya,
    We just wanted to thank you for a wonderful time on Saturday. It was a pleasure to meet you and Marisa and taste all of your wonderful food. We always enjoy talking with people who are as passionate about good food as we are.

    Thanks again and we will look forward to attending future events.

    Donna and Dan

  2. Okay Tenaya I'm not usually one to be picky over pics but what was I talking about??!! I look very animated! LOL. Good time for sure.

  3. What a fun afternoon that was! I can't wait to do it again in December!

  4. Your class coming on on September 18 sounds like the perfect time for me! I must attend!