Monday, October 4, 2010

Drunken Grapes with Taleggio Cheese - a 7 Course Dinner Amuse Bouche

AN Amuse Bouche...

Here's what Wikipedia says about one...
An amuse-bouche [amyzbuʃ] or amuse-gueule [amyzɡœl] is a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre. Amuse-bouche are different from appetizers in that they are not ordered from a menu by patrons, but, when served, are done so according to the chef's selection alone. These, often accompanied by a complementing wine, are served as an excitement of taste buds both to prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse into the chef's approach to cooking.

The term is French, literally translated to "mouth amuser". The plural form is amuse-bouche or amuse-bouches.

The original French word, more frequently employed, is amuse-gueule or titbit.
For my Luxury 7 course dinner (of which, an amuse bouche does not count as a course), I selected a new favorite of mine to serve as my little mouth exciter.

Drunken grapes are simple, but nicely complex with bourbon marinated grapes, an aromatic hearty cheese and the earthy taste of walnuts.  I got the idea for the amuses from a post I saw on The SHOWFOOD CHEF, by Chef Cathy (terrific read). I made a few changes in the recipe to showcase a couple of my favorite ingredients (see her original post by clicking HERE).  BTW, Chef Cathy is still in the running as the Next Food Blog Star. Take a look at her luxury dinner party post by clicking HERE.  Very inventive.

The cheese base is Taleggio Cheese.  WHOOP de DO, do I ever LOVE Talegio Cheese! Think Brie with an attitude. Taleggio melts like brie, so I imagine just about any recipe you have for brie you can sub Taleggio. But where Brie is a mild gentle cheese, Taleggio will take you down, slap you around and leave you begging for more. I did a little research (see, learning every day) and found that Taleggio is more related to Limburger (the stinky one) than Brie. While this doesn't stink, it certainly does have an oder. Strong earth scents, makes for a strong nutty taste.  A huge thank you to Avery Aames, author of the  "The Long Quiche Goodbye".  That's the first in a planned series of books set in the cheese shop (Fromagerie Bessesse is the actual name, but everyone in town calls it "The cheese Shop") for introducing me to this specialty cheese.

The Cheese is rolled in balls and pressed with chopped Black Walnuts.  I love walnuts.  Hearty, meaty tasting, with a deep Earthy taste.  Pairs perfectly with the Taleggio.

This does take just a bit of prep work.  You need to get the grapes drunk.

I squared the edges of the grapes for a contrasting look to the cheese balls.  It also removes the skin, allowing the bourbon to marinate deep into the grapes.

And, just soak them overnight in a bit of Jack Daniels.  And again, the deep Earthy tones of the Jack compliments perfectly with the Taleggio and walnuts.

The presentation is pretty simple,  a skewer or toothpick through a grape, and then into the base of the cheese.

And yes, advertise a luxury dinner, try to set the mood for a proper evening, but sure enough, a mini sword fight did break out.

Fortunately, I had my appetizer course ready to serve.

Flatbread bites, with the end of the season Tomatoes and an amazing pesto made with a Chili Pepper infused Olive Oil.

But, that's a post for tomorrow!

And more courses to follow this week...



  1. A sword fight can be expected when you invite those lush grapes to a party. Look forward to more about this party Dave.

  2. I think you have a very lucky wife!

  3. You had me at a cheese that takes me down, slaps me around, and has me begging for more. Dang. (Avery does know her cheeses!)Also love the idea of peeled grapes macerating in Jack. Ooo-la-la!

    Cook with joy!
    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  4. oo I like what you did with the grapes..nice!

  5. Hi Dave! In case you didn't see yet, you are a winner of BSI this week!

    Congrats! Your food looks amazing as always!!

  6. Holy freaking cow.... delish!!!

  7. You are too much, cher! Incredible looking grapes and meal! You've really outdone yourself on this one! Cheers!

  8. Interesting trick on the square grapes. I like it!