Today’s brunch menu starts with a cheese board – one of my favourite things to eat in the world. A restaurant menu with a cheese platter attracts me immediately, but when I order, the reality never quite lives up to my expectations. Refrigerator-cold, pasteurised, supermarket cheese, a few shop-bought crackers and some kind of sweet chutney thrown on as a garnish. BORING!
Although I am perfectly happy to eat a range of cheeses at once (it is cheese after all!), I really think that if you have gone to the time, trouble and expense of buying a beautifully crafted cheese, it should be given the opportunity to shine by itself. When only one piece of cheese is served, the individual qualities and complex layers of flavour are, to my mind, much more apparent.
So the cheese board I offer you today is an example of this. A really lovely, oozy piece of beautifully aged British goat cheese, served with homemade beetroot crisps (vegan and gluten-free!), fresh apricots and crunchy pistachio nuts. Each of these additions has a particular affinity with goat cheese, and offers complementary flavours coupled with a range of contrasting colours and textures. Quick and easy to put together, but luxurious, sophisticated and incredibly delicious.
- some lightly aged, bloomy-rinded goat cheese, room temperature
- fresh beetroot, scrubbed clean
- oil and salt to cook the beetroot
- fresh, ripe, fragrant apricots
- shelled pistachios
- Slice the unpeeled beetroot as thinly as possible - a mandoline will seriously aid you in this - spray or lightly toss in a little olive oil, season and lay in a single layer on a wire rack. Bake at 180c for 30-40 minutes, until dry, lightened and crispy, but not browned. Cool on the rack.
- When your beet crisps are cool and your cheese is at room temperature, serve on a platter or individual plates with pieces of the fresh apricot and a few pistachios.
Next on the menu is a throw back from earlier days on the blog, Grapefruit Brûlée with Vanilla Bean Crème, from the The Art of Breakfast: How to Bring B & B Entertaining Home, by Dana Moos. This fantastic brunch book takes you through the gorgeous, multi-course breakfasts that Dana Moos served visitors of her Maine guesthouse. Read my interview with the author, a full review of the book and other recipes from the book here.
The juicy tartness of the grapefruit and the creamy, honeyed sweetness of the vanilla cream are an unexpectedly fantastic combination. Get the simple, but delicious, recipe here.
These grapefruit flavours are echoed in Sauvignon Blanc wine – a classic match for goat cheese and the drink I have chosen to match today’s luxurious brunch. Learn more about drinking this wine with goat cheese (and get lots of other suggestions if it’s not quite what you fancy), at one of my favourite food websites, Matching Food & Wine, written by journalist Fiona Beckett. In particular she recommends a French wine, but I am going to go out on a limb and encourage you to drink a New Zealand white instead with this menu. The heightened citrussy fruit flavours of a classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc are exactly what this menu needs to pull it all together. Enjoy!