This year was the first in many that I was able to spend Mother’s Day with my mom, Linda Stewart. She’s a food, wine, and travel blogger and a lot of who I am is because of her. My love of cooking and all things epicurean most certainly exists because I grew up in her house. She’s an inspiration and, in true mom-fashion, also my biggest supporter.
After attending a food and wine conference on Whidbey Island, WA, my mom decided to pop up to Vancouver for a couple of days. She brought a ton of goodies up with her that she received at the conference, including a beautiful slice of Spring Brook Farm’s Ashbrook Morbier-style cheese. I was excited to use this for a cheese plate. So, we took a trip to Les Amis du Fromage, one of my favorite cheese shops here in Vancouver, and acquired more fixings for a special Mother’s Day cheese plate.
The Ashbrook is a Morbier-style cheese made by Spring Brook Farm in Vermont. It’s a gorgeous, cow’s milk cheese with an ivory paste and a thin line of vegetable ash running through its center. The texture is semi-firm and creamy. It’s a washed rind cheese, so it has a more pungent aroma, but with a pleasant comté-esque taste that’s sweet and fruity with a slightly bitter finish.
The Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar is an award-winning cheese from Mariposa Dairy in Ontario. It’s firm and toothsome with lots of crystallization – one of my favorite texture characteristics of a well-aged cheese. It’s taste has some tang, but is largely earthy, sweet, and nutty.
The third cheese is Le Bleu d’Elizabeth from the Fromagerie du Presbytère in Québec. This cheese has also won several awards and distinctions. This is a balanced blue with significant flavor. It’s salty and spicy, with an earthiness that is enhanced by its pungent aroma, reminiscent of damp hay and soil. It has a crumbly, ivory paste through which blue-green mold is heavily dispersed.
I used two types of charcuterie for this plate: a smoky Hungarian salami and a traditional saucisson. For fruit, I focused on figs as they go well with each of these cheeses. There are dried figs and also a fig jam that was extra special because it was made by my mother. I also used a pear and hazelnut compote which paired particularly well with the Ashbrook. The honey on the plate was from Whidbey Island and was great drizzled over the blue cheese. The almonds were selected because they go well with cheddar. For a vehicle for the cheese, I decided to keep it simple with crusty bread.
My mom scored some lovely beverages at her conference and we used those as pairings for the plate. One was Finnriver’s Honey Meadow Botanical Cider. It’s fruity and earthy flavor lent itself well to each of the cheeses on the plate; however, I enjoyed it most with the Bleu d’Elizabeth as the slight sweetness of the honey and apples in the cider balanced nicely with the saltiness of blue. My mom also received a bottle of Holmes Harbor Cellars’ Le Annate, which is a lush and elegant Bordeaux blend. The goat cheddar and charcuterie enhanced the velvety mouthfeel of the wine.
What Made the Plate?