The Perfect Cheese Pairing: Rose Petal Jam

10 04 2012

I think one of the best gifts you can serve at a dinner party is cheese.  It is easy to purchase, lends itself to a variety of delicious alcoholic beverages, and it is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.  When I am in a pinch and really don’t have time to cook up something delicious, I go to my local cheese purveyor and pick out a selection of cow, sheep and goats milk cheeses for a nice display.  I always try to pick cheeses with a variety of textures and flavor profiles.  (I usually choose a firm aged cheese, a soft young cheese and a semi-firm wash rind cheese)

Most people think that cheese and wine make the perfect pairing.  I have to agree, cheese and wine were made for each other.  But, as a chef, I am always trying to find other fantastic ingredients to add to a cheese plate for a new food pairing experience.  I love toasting and grinding pistachio’s to sprinkle over cheese like confetti.  I love adding fresh figs, persimmons, crispy apples or cherries to a cheese display for fresh seasonal flavor.  I love truffle honey drizzled over a firm aged cheese for a sweet and savory combination.

Despite all of these classic pairings, I have to say the most unexpected and delicious specialty ingredient I have ever tasted with cheese is Rose Petal Jam from France.  At first, you might think that a jam made of rose pedals sounds unappetizing. Rose petals smell like perfume, which is definitely not something you typically want to eat.  I was skeptical of this product at first, but I always give exotic speciality ingredients a change.  Let me tell you, it was love at first bite.  I remember smearing one of my favorite Italian cow and sheep’s milk cheeses, Robiola Bosina, (featured in the photo about) from the Langhe region in Northern Italy, on a thin crostini topped with Rose Petal Jam.  I casually took a quick bite and literally stopped in my tracks.  My were eyes closed as I enjoyed the incredible creaminess of the cheese that blended perfectly with the delicate floral, sweet and exotic flavor of the jam.  I think I started jumping up and down because I was so excited.  This had to be my favorite cheese and jam combination in the world!

I’d love for you to order this jam, even if you are skeptical and try it with your favorite cheese. It is wonderful with soft and creamy cheeses like Brie, and equally as delicious with firm cheeses like Pecorino, Manchego or Parmesan.  The Rose Petal Jam is also a great accompaniment to Greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream.  Give it a try and if you like it as much as I do, you might be the hit of your next dinner party.  Also, feel free to share your  favorite cheese pairings with me!

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