We ate with our hands, licking Brie from our fingers. It was October of 2010 and we would have been cold if it weren’t for the over 9.5-mile hike and 2,500 feet elevation incline (peaking at 6,500 feet in elevation). Our table was our seat and our seat was a rock. We looked across a crystal clear lake and shared: a wedge of Brie, an apple, sliced turkey, and a loaf of challah.A debate ensued. The question: What would you give up to keep cheese? The stakes were high. Very high. Too high for sensitive eyes and unknown company.
But really, have you thought about cheese? Considered the flavor and the feel as you bite into it. How it moves throughout your mouth? Would you, could you give up that salty bite? There was definitely dirt on my hands that day, but it didn’t stop me from sucking on my fingertips. What would I choose over cheese? I’m too much of a prude to give a list, but there’s not much. I can definitely tell you, there’s not much.
Because I love cheese so much, because I have been fortunate enough to meet the lovely Keren Brown, and because she is so kind, I recently I went to a cheese tasting at Dish it up! in Ballard. (Thank you Keren for inviting me. It was such a tasty pleasure!)
The tasting was run by The Cheese Impresario, Barrie Lynn. She chose four Sartori Reserve cheeses and paired them with different alcoholic drinks (please see pairing list below). My favorite pairing was definitely the SarVecchio Parmesan with the Glenfiddich. Could you honestly expect anything else from a scotch drinker? I think not.
However, the Parmesan was not my favorite. I was smitten with the Salsa Asiago. The edible rind was packed with a dry rub of flavor which infused the cheese from the outside in with sun-dried tomatoes, onions, garlic, and ancho peppers. I stopped listening to Barrie for a second. I didn’t hear the women to my left or right. I just tasted the cheese. That’s how I know food is good, when I stop listening to great conversation.
Driving home, wouldn’t you imagine I’d think about the Salsa Asiago – the flavors running from rind to center, first bold and then mild. Instead, I remembered licking Brie from my fingers. Four fabulous cheese and drink pairings sent my mind on a tail spin ride to October, to a rock table, a crudely sliced apple, and three friends.
Isn’t it wonderful when food can evoke such emotion?
This sandwich is reminiscent of my hike. I plan to try the Salsa Asiago again, but for now I’m going to revisit the rock table. Though Brie can be an expensive cheese, you don’t need to buy an incredibly expensive one for this sandwich. Cheese connoisseurs may scoff at such a statement, but it has been my experience that the full flavor of a really nice cheese is lost when you are eating it with other things. Consider the Presidents brand. It’s just over $1.00 an ounce.
(Side note: Chef Kathy Casey also attended the tasting. Chef Casey, thank you for your lovely Sips and Apps book which I won that night. And, thank you for Kathy’s D’Lish Favorite sandwich at Dish D’lish at the Sea-Tac Airport. You have made air travel more bearable.)
Rock Table Sandwich
Inspiration duo: a long hike and Chef Kathy Casey’s Kathy’s D’Lish Favorite
This is an at home sandwich because, if you’re at home, why wouldn’t you toast your bread? However, should you have time for a long hike, I recommend carrying your apple unsliced, your Brie still wrapped, your bread in a place it won’t get squished, and your meat however you please. Eat with your fingers on a large flat rock, looking at a beautiful view. If you’re in the Seattle area, check out the Lake Ingalls hike. You won’t be disappointed.
Two slices bread (Whatever you have on hand will do, but challah’s a great option)
1 TBS Mayo
2 ounces Brie, cut into 2 thin slices
4 ounces sliced chicken or turkey
½ apple, thinly sliced
Lightly toast bread in a toaster oven. Spread 1/2 TBS Mayo on each slice of bread. Top one slice with apples, brie, and chicken.
Top with remaining slice of bread, Mayo side in.
Return to toaster oven and allow to warm through completely. Serve warm.
Selected Cheeses and Pairings
Sartori Reserve Salsa Asiago with Banzai’s Shoichi Sato’s Jokigen Rice Label Sake
Sartori Reserve Espresso BellaVitano with Neisson Rhum Agricole Réserve Spéciale
Sartori Reserve SarVecchio Parmesan with Glenfiddich 15-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Sartori Reserve Dolcina Gogronzola with Del Maguey’s Santo Domingo Albarradas Mezcal