Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fromage à Trois

FYI: The threesome story mentioned in the previous post was not mine. I unfortunately cannot lay claim to such an escapade. In fact, my idea of a threesome is me + a bottle of wine + some good French cheese. I tend to be drawn towards the washed-rind cheeses, the stuff of serious sensual ecstasy. Recognized by their pale tan, pink, or orange rind exterior, these cheeses are very pungent, and are best consumed right away. The flavors are often not as intense as the aroma, but its richness lingers on your tongue. My favorites are Epoisses and Affidelice, both creamy, and Comté, a semi-hard washed-rind cheese. These pair well together because of their different textures but similar nutty flavors. Typically, the more pungent the cheese, the more floral your wine selection should be. Ask a sommelier for a recommendation, or try a Pinot Gris or Riesling.

I never met a cheese I didn't like. But the rich, fragrant cheeses really send me over the edge. Pair with a luscious wine, and show me to bed.

Recipe for Fromage à Trois Mac (serves 4):
  • 1 cup grated comté (if you can't find, gruyere can step in)
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup diced rindless camembert (brie could step in)
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 cup french breadcrumbs (no crust)
  • 1/2 lb. penne pasta
  • Salt for pasta water

Preheat oven to 375. Cook pasta to al dente in salted boiling water, according to directions, and drain in a colander. Prepare cheeses. Freeze camembert for several minutes for easier dicing. Mix all cheeses, and set aside 3/4 cup, covered, in the fridge for later. Melt 2 tbsp butter over med-low heat in a large saucepan. Add flour and stir until golden. Add the thyme and nutmeg, and then gradually whisk in the milk. Simmer until thick and smooth, stirring frequently. Stir in the cheese (besides the 3/4 cup in the fridge) until melted and creamy. Stir in the cooked pasta. Meanwhile melt the remaining butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and toss breadcrumbs until coated and golden. Spoon the pasta and cheese sauce into either individual ramekins, or a casserole dish, and sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup cheese, then breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until bubbly and golden, about 20-25 minutes. For ramekins, check after about 15 minutes. For an extra risqué touch, pair the meal with a Ménage à Trois Red wine.

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