Fromage fort and left over cheese

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Empties and leftovers, a happy belly and a satisfied heart. These are the joyous remains of last night’s cheese and beer tasting.

I love everything about cheese and booze tastings, be they beer, wine or whiskey. From the excitement of selecting said cheese and booze, to the anticipation of laying the cheese out, through to the delight as the the tasting begins.
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Last night it was a quick stop and taste-by at Garage Project in Aro Street, followed by a call into Moore Wilsons for a 101 of cheese types. Goat, triple cream, alpine, smoked, blue and cheddar. Roger’s birthday had called for many cheeses, many beers, much fun.

And whilst we drunk all the beer, there were the inevitable leftover nubbins of cheese so rather than a quiche or simple cheese soufflé, today I made Fromage Fort, a French cheese dip made from left over cheeses. Perfect for tonight’s do.

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Like its name says, this is strong cheese, and I’ve followed a David Leibowiz recipe which softens it with cream cheese. I used wine, but a dark beer would be great too. I also softened mine further with a slosh of marsala, a Nigella–standby for when things just don’t taste quite right. Another trick if it is just too tangy is a pinch of sugar, used as a spice rather than an ingredient.

I used a combo of leftovers in my fridge, and added in a bit of old feta too. You want to watch how much ‘strong cheese’ you add as it can take over. I also whipped up a batch of grain-free crackers, their gentle nuttiness a fine counter-point to the fromage fort.

Fromage Fort

225g cheese pieces, hard rinds removed
2 -3 tablespoons cream cheese to taste
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
a few turns of freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne or red pepper powder
1 tablespoon minced chives or flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
additional chives or parsley, for garnish
a slosh of marsala, a pinch of sugar (optional)

1. Cut the cheese finely, removing rinds of hard cheeses and put them in the bowl of a food processor with the cream cheese, wine, garlic, and the black and red peppers. A small bowl and a stick blender works too, or old school, grind the hard cheeses in the mortar and pestle, and mash in the softer ones with a fork.

2. Process the mixture until smooth. If it is not completely smooth (which may happen if you’re using harder cheeses), add the additional cream cheese, and continue to process.

3. Taste, adding in extra cream cheese, marsala or sugar to taste. Don’t worry if it’s a little harsh it’s flavours will develop as it chills.

3. Transfer to a bowl, stir in finely chopped chives or parsley. Check flavours again.

4. Cover, and chill until firm. Serve with cracker, celery sticks or chippies.

David Lebovitz’s Fromage Fort

Check out my other boozey tastings:
Whiskey and cheese tasting at Milk the Cow, Melbourne
Beer and cheese – lagers and pilsners
Cheese and wine tasting with awesome Wellington Foodies
Whiskey and cheese tasting
Bee and cheese tasting
Wine and cheese tastings

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