Saturday, January 9, 2010

Port Wine Syrup



I have made contact with the local food-loving world. Hallelujah. Amen. My favorite grocery in town, Nugget Market, was tonight's need-to-get-out-of-the-house-and-see-something-good destination. I met a delightful lad of my generation at the cheese counter who helped me understand the taste nuances of a few blues...some calm and creamy, some salty, some punchy-pungent. I usually try to avoid even eye contact with the cheese people because I know I will end up buying something, or, I will end up totally overwhelmed because I have no idea if I like 'nutty' cheese over acidic, fresh over aged. But this time, I really did need help. I needed to be wooed into some retail therapy, wooed into cooking a slightly overwhelming birthday dinner for my sister.

So I stated my dilemma..."Gorgonzola?"
How I said Gorgonzola told him a lot. He was already gathering the mildest of blues in his mind. "Any recommendations for a blue cheese into?"

Yes, he did.

I have only liked blue cheese once, when my catering partner insisted making an appetizer with Gorgonzola (endive leaf with chopped red grapes and a few crumbs of blue cheese--fresh, sweet, tangy, crisp. Exquisite.) But I have always wanted to like it. So my cheese teacher behind the counter pointed out some high cream blues. The more cream, he said, the milder the cheese.

I bought a few different ones to test, Point Reyes Original Blue (salty), a generic 'creamy Gorgonzola' (generically creamy), and Montagnolo Premium Blue ("fabulous," he said, "very mild," and unfortunately going out of business).


I might note that the grocery retail therapy went very well. I got all that I needed (the french bread for dinner, agave nectar, and figs), as well as the three cheeses, the 'cooking wine' for me while I made the port sauce, and a taste of Vancouver: Rain Crisps (I nearly cried when I saw them). For my sister's birthday appie I will use some of the Gorgonzola and some of this Port Wine Syrup. Stay tuned.

Port Wine Syrup

Serve over yummy food...like beef, poached pears, mushroom pate, liver pate, gorgonzola, or some combination thereof.

2 cups Port (I used Sandeman's Founders Reserve Porto)
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
12 whole peppercorns, crushed
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/3 cup raw agave nectar

Combine all in a small saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat and boil until reduced to about 2/3 cups (or 1 cup for granulated sugars). Strain and let cool to thicken.

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