Sunday, April 21, 2013

Parmesan Syndicate Night

A few months ago I was listening to "The Menu" podcast and they had an interview with a cheesemaker in Wales who had set up Save a Cheese, a campaign to help the "devastated artisan cheesemakers in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy hit by two earthquakes in a short space of time" in May 2012. I considered this a noble cause and signed up to "save" a kilo of cheese. It went down so quickly that when the second campaign started, G and I decided to upgrade to five kilos. ACC and Baron McG were also keen to help out and thus the Parmesan Syndicate was formed. I mentioned to G that the Parmesan Syndicate would be a good name for a band, and his response was that "Reggiano" would be the name of the splinter group.

Normal size cheese... and PARMESAN! This is just one kilo.

It arrived last week, so I arranged a rustic supper so the others could come and get theirs, since the rescue Parmesan was taking up most of my fridge. Fortunately it had arrived in one-kilo vacuum-packed bags, and a laser-guided cheesecutting machine was not required.

A sight to gladden the heart

As luck - or rather, good planning on the part of my favourite wine merchant - would have it, on the very same day, a case of magnums of Auxey-Duresses 2005 from Prunier arrived, so it was the ideal opportunity to try one. Auxey is a new favourite village for me, and G spotted this on the broking list of the Burgundy Portfolio. I looked Prunier up in Coates who describes him as "certainly the best grower in the village", the 2005 vintage was an excellent one, and there's something quite special about a magnum - so I decided to go for it.

As I don't drink many magnums, I don't have a magnum decanter, so I used two normal decanters about 2.5 hours before drinking. It was quite a dark colour, had a heavenly nose with lively red berry fruit going on and was quite sweet and delicious. A great expression of pinot noir in the lighter, approachable Cote de Beaune style. I'm very much looking forward to drinking the rest, but there's no rush and at least one bottle should be tucked away for another five years to see what happens.

To eat, I made gougeres, then served this rather successful chicken, apricot and pistachio terrine made the day before. G expertly got it out of the terrine dish intact so it still looked nice, rather than like Pedigree Chum as has been known to happen in the past.

For dessert we had some petits pots au chocolat (made to Maman AdV's closely-guarded recipe) with Waitrose's Seriously Plummy Maury which is £10.99 for a half bottle. Earlier in the week G had suggested I get some of this, and I had looked at him in confusion as first of all I thought he was saying "Morey" and secondly because I was not aware that Waitrose actually sold a Maury. Although I do look at their sweet wine section from time to time, the terrible branding and label has always acted as a kind of anti-visibility shield and I had genuinely never noticed it. It did however turn out to be just the thing to go with the petits pots, and the half bottle was the perfect size for four.

Don't drop it!

We rounded off the evening with this precious item - a bottle of 1925 Marc de Bourgogne which ACC gave G as an early birthday present. It's amazing stuff, quite pale in colour, and has that old spirit thing going on which we love so much. There is still a little bit left but I don't rate its chances of lasting till G's birthday...

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