Smoked Duck and Carmody Appetizer
Smoked Duck Roulade from Fabrique Délices and Carmody Cheese from Bellwether Farms are simply made for each other. Put a cube of each on a toothpick, offer a variety of condiments, and “Voila!”
Fabrique Délices is a company of French Americans (some with accents very much intact) who make a wide variety of French-style charcuterie, from time-honored French classics to innovative new products. The names even sound romantic: Galantine, Saucisse, Rillettes, Confit, and of course pâtés and more. On top of that they make amazing truffle butters. I can say from experience that mashed potatoes made with this butter will make you a hit at the holidays.
For this appetizer we used Smoked Duck Roulade, which is boneless meat compressed into a roll form that’s easy to slice or cube. Or you can buy an individual smoked duck breast.
Carmody is a Bellwether Farms original. While Cindy and Liam Callahan of Bellwether originally made their name with sheep milk cheeses (and now they have sheep milk yogurt), this cheese is made with Jersey cow milk from a neighbor’s farm. Aged at least 6 weeks, it becomes a beautiful golden color with a smooth texture and buttery flavor.
The condiments we experimented with were:
Mendocino Mustard’s Sweet & Hot and Seeds & Suds
Jimtown Fresh’s Chopped Olive Salad
the girl & the fig’s Dried Fig Compote
B & R Farms’ Dried Apricot Chutney
Mendocino Mustard is actually made on the dramatic California coast in Mendocino County, within view of the Pacific Ocean. Devora Rossman was in the vanguard of gourmet American mustards with her Hot & Sweet. Keeping in the coastal mode, Seeds & Suds uses Red Seal Ale, made by North Coast Brewery just down the road.
Jimtown Fresh is a revitalized Alexander Valley landmark outside of Healdsburg in Sonoma County. Known for her condiments and the wonderful Jimtown Store Cookbook, Carrie Brown has also fashioned a place that is welcoming to local winery folk in need of an afternoon espresso, as well as visitors who enjoy lunch on the patio. All sorts of gourmet picnic supplies, as well as unique gifts, home furnishings and antiques, can be discovered in this one-of-a-kind store surrounded by vineyards.
Yes, there really is a “girl” behind the girl & the fig. Sondra Bernstein is the food enthusiast and chef of Fig Food, the girl & the fig Cookbook, and two restaurants. Sonoma’s the girl & the fig features French aperitifs and traditional cocktails, an award-winning "Rhone Alone" wine list, a seasonal menu, and outdoor patio seating. At Glen Ellen’s fig café & wine bar, thin crust pizza joins favorites from the Sonoma restaurant for eating at the café or take out.
At B & R Farms in Hollister, east of Monterey, Jim and Mari Rossi grow Blenheims, the Queen of Apricots. The dried Blenheim is unparalleled all by itself, but dipped in chocolate. Ah, well. You just have to try it. Using their own dried apricots to make various jams, chutneys and sauces gives their products an intense apricot flavor. The farm, which is an easy drive from Monterey, Carmel, and Pebble Beach, is a fun place to visit.
Pairing wine with a dish (or menu) that involves a number of different tastes (either in the foods or in your guests) is tricky, but a versatile and tasty solution is Sangiovese. Wineries in California have grown fond of this Tuscan grape, and Camellia Cellars in Healdsburg makes an excellent one. Bruce Snyder and Chris Lewand have a charming tasting room on Front Street in Healdsburg.
Pam and Bob Sibley helped with making the appetizer, and we enjoyed the fruits of our “labor” in their home in Healdsburg.