Ahhhhh, happiness. So often, as we know, it is the simplest things in life. Our one year anniversary of the blog brings me back to where I wrote the first post: Saratoga Springs, home to one of my favorite farmer's markets. Last year I reported the sad news of the tomato blight. This year all seems well for the growers.
The big revelation for me at the market this summer was when I drifted by Dancing Ewe Farm's display of raw milk cheeses. I had to have a taste and that was it: Nirvana! The flavor was unbelievable, you can really taste the rawness of the milk- tart and grassy, earthy and creamy. Loved it! Bought some, natch.
Jody Somers, cheese-maker, handing out samples with a confident reserve that practically shouted "Yeah, I know it is good, now you do too"
I opted for a hunk of the caciotta and figured I would come up with a salad that my husband and I could dive into during our annual picnic dinner in Saratoga State Park.
The cheese tasted phenomenal with some local arugula and tomatoes. The red onion went on the grill and rounded out this hearty salad.
I saved a little of the cheese to bring home and made another version of the salad with the addition of some of my backyard ingredients. Fruit, especially peaches, taste great with tomatoes and cheese. My next door neighbor had planted a peach tree in their own yard a few years back and it is now spilling over the fence into my yard. This is the first year that the tree has produced a crop that could be harvested.
The white flesh peaches are really not bad for a Queens backyard! I added them to the salad and finished it off with the three varieties of basil that I have growing in pots.
Tomato, Arugula, Peach and Caciotta Cheese Salad with Three Basils
The name says it all and what the heck, I had fun making a local meets local salad to celebrate summer produce at its best.
One of my other favorite stops while in Saratoga Springs is the Saratoga Wine Exchange where they display what seems like hundreds of wines, many with descriptive tags to help one make a decision. I was drawn to a white chenin blanc called Indaba from South Africa. In addition to the bright fruity notes it had a caramel buttered popcorn undertone that worked beautifully with the cheese.
Ok, so the wine is not exactly local, but it made me feel like a do-gooder because the wine label states that the proceeds of the sales will go the Indaba Scholarship to "open the wine industry doors to a new generation of South Africans". Doing good AND drinking wine. Nirvana indeed!
This is a beautiful, summery salad! Love the pictures. And Chenin Blanc is one of my favorite varietals, particularly from the Loire Valley in France. There, it is the most widely planted varietal. Depending on where it is made, it can produce a variety of wines from sparkling, to dry, off-dry and sweet. The wine Deb chose for her salad is from South Africa, as she mentioned. It is also the most widely planted varietal in that country as well. Known as Steen, South African Chenin Blanc will typically display flavors of tropical fruit, peaches, bananas and honey. These rich fruit flavors must have been wonderful with the cheese in particular! The creamy quality of the cheese would be delicious accompanied by a sip of the Chenin's luscious fruit!
I would also not hesitate to enjoy a Sauvignon Blanc with this salad. This wine of course will have a completely different flavor profile then the Chenin Blanc, but the crisp, lively, herbal, grassy flavors would surely complement the salad perfectly.
Deb - just curious - did you use any dressing or olive oil drizzle for your salad? I agree about fruit in salads. This past weekend I made a salad of romaine, chopped basil and chives, cucumber and watermelon with a simple garlic vinaigrette made with aged sherry vinegar. I loved the watermelon/cucumber combination. It was so refreshing! And the herbs really brought out the best in the fruit.