As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been excited about the Swirl & Slice market since the first time I heard about it. Now that I’ve been to the market several times, I wanted to try one of the tasting events and the recent one with cookbook author and chef Didi Emmons on herbs and cheeses sounded right up my alley!
The event was held on a beautiful summer evening, with a light breeze rustling the trees as the sunset cast beautiful colors in the sky. About 10 people attended the tasting, which featured cheeses from several area farms and herbs grown by Didi in her Milton garden.
We sampled mascarpone burrata from Somerville-based Fiore di Nonno, Eastleigh Fresh from Nobscot Artisan Cheese in Framingham and classic plain goat cheese from Crystal Brook Farm in Sterling. (Full disclosure: I’m currently in love with Crystal Brook’s goat cheese, it is delicious!) All of the cheeses were incredible and very unique.
The mascarpone burrata was oh-so-creamy and rich, truly perfect on its own or smeared on a slice of good bread (like the seedy slices we sampled from Hi-Rise Bread and Dan’s Brick Oven Bread). We also tried it rolled up in a nasturtium leaf, which was peppery and complemented the cheese well.
The Eastleigh Fresh was buttery and smooth and it was very spreadable, which would make it a good sandwich cheese. We sampled it with African blue basil, which was delicious and complex.
The classic plain goat cheese was tangy and thick, definitely the best of this type of cheese that I’ve ever had. It was tasty paired with bronze fennel, which was a terrific herb. I’m not a huge fan of regular fennel, but I loved this. It would be excellent on a salad.
During the tasting, Didi told us about her most recent book, Wild Flavors, about a woman who grows some of the best herbs around on her Connecticut farm. Didi also let us taste lovage flowers, citronella geranium and purslane, all of which she grew. The herbs were all complex and flavorful, a true treat to sample.
Didi also provided some tips on using herbs, like adding them when a dish is finished cooking, not while it’s cooking. She also recommended pairing thin-skinned herbs, like cilantro and basil, with each other, and pairing thick-skinned herbs, like rosemary and thyme, with each other.
I definitely learned a lot at the tasting and enjoyed sampling the herbs and cheeses very much. I would’ve loved to hear a bit from the people who actually made the cheeses, and perhaps enjoyed some wine from one of the vendors during the tasting, but it was still a lovely summer night out in Union Square.