Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dried Cherry and Port Chutney + Cowgirl Creamery Redhawk Cheese

Often on a Friday night, my husband and I enjoy unwinding from the week with a brilliant bottle of wine and appetizers. Sometimes they are homemade and other times; the frozen appetizers from Trader Joe’s hit the spot. Cheese is one of my favorite foods. Whether it is cow, sheep or goat milk varietals – I love them all.

My husband is a huge fan of the sheep milk cheeses especially the aged category. Cheese is such a terrific vehicle for entertaining. You should set it out about one hour before your guests arrive to have the flavors come alive by being at room temperature. This significantly reduces stress since you can prepare ahead of time and the appetizer is ready to go once the doorbell rings.

If you have ever visited the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco you know that it is a destination for local to global foodies. It is located along the Embarcadero at the foot of Market Street. You will find niche shops, cafes and restaurants. My favorite stops are: Cowgirl Creamery, Blue Bottle Coffee, Sur La Table, Far West Fungi, McEvoy Ranch Olive Oil and Miette.

Six new niche shops have been added to the vast array existing destinations. These new shops are all existing Bay Area businesses and now have a distinct presence in the grand Ferry Building Marketplace. They include: Alfieri Farms, Beekind Honey Shop, Benedetta Holistic Skincare, Charles Phan, El Porteño Empanadas and Pepples Donuts. Now even more reasons to visit the Ferry Building.
My friend Helen and I have a goal to visit the Farmers Market one Saturday a month at the Ferry Building. Each time, we never miss the opportunity to stop into Cowgirl Creamery. We select our number off the free standing fixture and wait patiently for our number to be called. It can get extremely busy, but it is well worth the wait. We try new cheeses each time, but also have our staple favorites. Speaking of favorites, their Redhawk, washed rind cheese is a must try. Be ready for knock your socks off pungent smell, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying this delectable cheese.
As outlined in Laura Werlin’s Cheese Essentials book, you know it’s a washed-rind cheese when:
  • It has an orange, pinkish, reddish, or orangish-brown rind
  • It is semi-soft, creamy and often spoonable
  • It smells like dirty gym socks, the barnyard, or worse (but that is a good thing)
  • Generally small wheels or squares
  • It is in the refrigerated section at the cheese store
  • Often tacky or sticky when you touch the surface
  • A bit saltier than most other cheeses
I would highly recommend Laura's book for the complete insiders guide to buying and serving cheese.  Several months ago I had the opportunity to attend a cheese and wine pairing class of which Laura was one of the guest speakers on the panel at the SF Chef 2010 event held in San Francisco.

I typically serve Redhawk with an artesian fig jam or chutney. I recently created a recipe for a Dried Cherry and Port Chutney which was a perfect compliment to the Redhawk cheese. A few years ago, I discovered these wonderful crackers that are quite fancy but full of wonderful flavors. They are Raincoast Crisps and produced by Leslie Stowe and made in Canada. There are six unique flavors and I highly recommend the Salty Date and Almond or Fig and Olive flavor. I found mine at Whole Foods Market.

Charles and I had another splendid Friday night with wine and appetizers. Now that it is Saturday, we are relaxed and ready to enjoy the weekend.

Dried Cherry and Port Chutney

1 C. Dried Cherries, chopped finely
1 C. Port
1/3 C. White wine vinegar
2 T. Maple syrup
2 t. Fresh thyme leaves, minced

Add all of the ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it is at a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and let simmer for 35 to 45 minutes until it is reduced a bit over half and not to much liquid remains. If you prefer it a bit smoother, add to a food processor after it has cooled a bit and pulse three or four times. Spoon into a small container and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


  1. That chutney looks wonderful! I will certainly give that one a try!

  2. This is also what me & my hubby do, I always make us a cheese and chocolate plate and we enjoy our wine finds for that week.

  3. You know I could never live without cheese! I hope I will never develop a lactose intolerance :) I will have to try the product of the Cowgirl Creamery. Thanks for the suggestion!

  4. I don't eat cheese but I LOVE that chutney! However, my husband would find this to be the perfect appetizer...cheesehead that he is (from Wisconsin). The photos and presentation look wonderful though...casual but elegant entertaining idea!

  5. I love appetizers on the weekends too :) It's such an awesome way to unwind after the stress of the week. This looks fantastic!

  6. Lisa, I've decided that I just want to live in your kitchen. This way, I'll never miss all the great stuff you make. That chutney is so inviting! Of course, the cheese, too.

  7. You always have such great presentation and I'm always impressed with your hosting skills and photos. I hear fantastic things about cowgirl creamery. I bet your chutney was the perfect addition!

  8. Everything about this little cocktail hour sounds fabulous. The cheese, the chutney... man oh man.. living in central Texas we don't get the luxury of great little places with exotic cheeses, but we do try to hit up Whole Foods cheese section as often as possible!

  9. Your Friday night happy hours look a bit nicer than mine!


  10. What a wonderful way to spend a Friday night. My husband and I adore good cheese, and we live a few blocks from a wonderful artisan cheese shop in Austin. Your evening sounds perfect. Thank you for sharing, sweet woman. I hope your Tuesday is grand.

  11. Love the Raincoast crisps and the Redhawk cheese, thanks for the dried cherry and Port chutney recipe. I agree with you on the Friday night menu based around a nice trip to the Fromagerie:)

  12. I love your blog, it clearly hits my agenda of good foods and wine.
    Do you have a favorite restaurant you frequent in SF? Well of course when you just don't feel like cooking and cleaning?
    I would love to know where and why? also ambiance, what makes it good for a foodie like you?

  13. We are definitely fans of Cowgirl! Your chutney sounds perfect with the cheese
    P.S. I have that same silverware!

  14. I could not agree more. I LOVE cheese. Looks like the Ferry marketplace is wonderful for exploration!

  15. Nothing beats kicking back with some apps and wine on the weekends. The ferry building is always my first stop in SF. Love the cherry chutney - delish!

  16. Love those crisps, just discovered the recently.
    I love that cheese as well, but have not tried that one yet.


It simply makes me smile when I receive a new comment and I look forward to hearing from you!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.