Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pesto, Pears, and Cinnamon Tasting!

Pestos, Pears, and Cinnamon.....Oh my!

The fabulous Teri offered to host this month's tasting party and she chose Pesto, but she also really wanted to do pears with cheese and wine. Could she do both? That was her question to me. My answer? "Absosmurfley!"

Then she was in Colorado and while visiting a spice shop, noticed there were several different types of cinnamon - who knew? "Can we dip some of the pears in different flavors of cinnamon?" was her question to me. "Ummmm.....YES!"

So on a beautiful fall day we all showed up at Teri's house for a Pesto, Pear, and Cinnamon Tasting Party.

Good News...Bad News

Good News: These Pestos were amazing! The flavors were spectacular, vibrant, and fresh.
Bad News: At this time, the Marvini brand of pestos are only available in Canada. How sad is that?! Why should the Canadians have all the fun? Marvini's been around since 1850 and they still haven't made their way south....What's the hold-up?!!!

Anyway....Teri had the brilliant idea of carefully layering some phyllo dough, "icing" it with the pesto and topping it with freshly sliced yellow tomatoes. She baked it in the oven until the phyllo was nice and crispy and then served them to us one delicious bite at a time. Of course, we also had permission to eat the pesto right out of the container too!

The pesto we crowned king was the Pesto Rosso, which placed first and second in most everyone's hearts. We were dying to know what was in this fabulous garden delight, so Teri read the ingredients right from the container.

Pesto Rosso
Sundried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, cashews, parmesan cheese, romano cheese, fresh purple basil, fresh garlic, flaxseed oil, canola oil, spices, sea salt, lemon juice.

Pesto Bombay
Fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley), cashew, feta cheese, fresh garlic, jalapeno spices, flaxseed oil, canola oil, sea salt, lemon juice concentrate

Jen had a thing for the Bombay pesto....

Pesto Mediterranea
Red bell peppers, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, cashews, feta cheese, fresh garlic, fresh herbs, flaxseed oil, canola oil, lemon juice concentrate

Patty and Teri were ga-ga over the Mediterranea....

Pesto Traditionale
Fresh herbs (basil, parsley), cashews, parmesan cheese, romano cheese, fresh garlic, pine nuts, flaxseed oil, canola oil, sea salt, lemon juice concentrate

Carrie had a crush on Mr. Traditional with an E.....

Pesto Thai
Fresh herbs (basil, parsley), cashews, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, peanuts, spices, flaxseed oil, canola oil, sea salt, coconut, lemon juice concentrate

Anne liked the spicy did I! ( I really loved the Rosso though...)

We also tasted a Pesto Provenzale and a Pesto Azteca.

All of the pestos tasted amazing really. The flavors completely came alive once the pesto touched your tongue. We ooed and ahhed and moaned and groaned like happy, hungry taste-testers.

We liked all the Pestos, but some simply stole our hearts more than others, with everyone choosing different favorites - it's what keeps it interesting! Even though we can't know the exact recipe of these gems, we now have the ingredient list that inspired each concoction, so we are free to experiment at home....and so are you! And until Canada decides to share with us Americans, experimenting is all we can do!

SEE?! Jen gets giddy just thinking about all the experimenting!

As fabulous as the pestos were, it's time to move on to the pears and cheese.
I'm sorry there are no pictures of pears and cheese.....I was too busy eating them to take photos. You know how it is - when you're taking the picture, you're missing the moment. I was caught up in the moment - SUE ME!

Okay, picture THIS:

A perfect slice of Bosc pear, a generous chunk of aged white cheddar cheese, and a gulp of red wine ALL in your mouth at one time having the ultimate flavor-frenzy party! It was even better than it sounds!

We then indulged in another slice of the Bosc, but this time we paired him with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and that too was a party worth attending. More wine please! The aged white cheddar was our favorite partner for the Bosc and lucky can be found at our local Giant Eagle - Black Diamond brand - check it out for yourself.

Then we switched to the Bartlett pear and partnered him with a Fontina cheese and a swanky Merlot....purrrrr...fection!

When Teri appeared from the kitchen with St. Andre - the next cheese to stand with the Bartlett - we were all very excited to see him again. He was one of our favorites from our first cheese tasting and here he was, the Bartlett's newest friend. Teri decided to pop the cork on some champagne and we toasted our old friend.

Turns out, we liked the Fontina with the Bartlett better than we did St. Andre. They simply complimented each other better. We were more than happy to spread the St. Andre on some bread though...ahhhhh.

But wait.....this party's not over! There is cinnamon to taste yet! Pictured below is the Vietnamese Saigon Cinnamon that Teri so generously gave each of us to take home as ONE of our parting gifts. Turns out, it was nearly everyone's favorite....except Carrie...she can be sooo difficult. ;)

Speaking of Carrie, see how happy she is to be tasting four separate varieties of cinnamon?

After we all made little piles of each cinnamon on our plates, we started dragging our slices of pear through the separated spices. Right away everyone was calling out their favorites. Vietnamese Saigon seemed to be Anne and Teri's favorite, while Carrie fell hard for the Ceylon "True". Jen gave props to the Indonesian Cassia, while the Chinese Cassia walked away with the bronze.

So, I have a confession. Remember the "Friends" episode where Rachel gets a baby ultrasound done and Ross is so excited when he sees the baby on the monitor and Rachel acts excited too? Then she finally fesses up that she can't make out the baby, so Ross outlines the baby with his finger and says, "See?!" Rachel looks again and then proclaims, "Oh, I see, I see!" Ross looks at her and questions, "Really?" Rachel breaks down and cries, "Nooooooo!'

THAT is how I felt while everyone was drooling and gushing over the different flavors of cinnamon. I LOVE CINNAMON. It is easily one of my favorite flavors - right up there with lemon and vanilla - and ever since Teri mentioned the idea of adding cinnamon to the tasting, I was stoked!!!

So, here I am with four different cinnamons at a Food Tasting and I can't tell one from the other. Seriously! I kept tasting and I kept quiet until I had to fess up and admit I could barely distinguish one from the other, if at all! BUT, that is why I love these tastings! You never know what's going to happen and there are never any right or wrong reactions to anything!

Did I mention there was wine at the party?

Did I mention there was lots of wine at the party?

If you hang with us long enough you will see a pattern develop. Even though there is wine at every party, Teri's house is seriously stocked with wine and it's only one of the reasons we love her! At this party, not only did we have many bottles of wine to compliment each "course", we had red wine glasses and white wine glasses and champagne was divine!

Oh, and then there were the gifts. Teri not only gave us Cinnamon and leftover pesto to take home, but she also gave us this Sugared Pear Soap. Get it? "Pear?"

And Patty took it upon herself to pick apples from a woman's orchard ( with her permission, of course ) because the woman was not collecting them and they were going to waste. She thoughtfully picked a bag for each of us!

And Jen showed up with a laundry basket of gourds! Her and Barry thought they were planting wonderful zucchinis, but look what popped up! Everyone was excited to pick and choose from all the many fun shapes and sizes.

This party went on for hours because we had so much fun. As always, we ate just enough to tease our palates and satisfy our hunger...nothing less and nothing more. Gluttony is not our friend and he is never invited to our parties.

Next month we will be tasting many, many different types of Chocolate AND it is Patty's birthday, so the partying continues.........


Carrie said...

Oh my goodness, it was almost like being there again! Thank you Sheri for recreating this fabulous event! And thank you Teri, Jen, Patty and Anne for being YOU! I can hardly wait for our next adventure!
Carrie (the difficult one) :)

Kuckie said...

I can't wait to do it all again!! That was a seriously fun party!

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