Pecorino Ginepro Cheese, and Wilted Spinach Salad
Vrienden in Flemish means “friend.” And like good friends with whom we find comfort in commonalities, Pecorino Ginepro cheese shares the same delightful finish as Vrienden beer.
Vrienden uses as yeast called Brettanomyces, meaning “British fungus,” yeast which occurs on the surface of fruit in the wild. You have to be good to use Brettanomyces yeast – too much and an off-flavor occurs. If you use the right amount, it is magic. And that is exactly what Vrienden is, magic. It is a perfect blend fruity and sourness with a champagne effect on the tongue and tanginess in the finish.
Pecornio Ginepro is a firm cheese and comes from Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. This cheese is rubbed down with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and then covered with juniper berries during the three-month ripening period. It has a minor woodsy and herbal taste to it but a major tanginess in its finish, the same finish as Vrienden. Eaten with the Vrienden, the finish of the Vrienden pops and you get to really enjoy the masterful brewing of this beer.
There is delight in commonalities but also in opposites. Here is a recipe for a wilted spinach and beet salad which provides some nutty and bitterness flavors to compliment the fruitiness and tangy finish of this beer and cheese.
Take two large beets, peeled and cubed. Put them in a pan, sprinkle them with some salt, and sauté them with a 1/2 cup of olive oil, covered, over medium-low heat for approximately 45 minutes, stirring frequently. While your beets are cooking, take a pound of spinach leaves and roughly chop them. Chop ½ cups (or more if you like) roasted and salted almonds. Mix a 1/4 cup of mustard, a 1/4 cup of honey and 2 tablespoons of Pomegranate red wine vinegar together for the dressing. When your beets are soft and easy to cut with the side of your spatula, you are almost there! Turn the heat to high and stir frequently for about 5 minutes. This will cause a carmelization of the surface sugars of the beets. Then, pour the hot beets (and all the olive oil they were cooked in) over your spinach. The heat will wilt your spinach. Add the nuts and dressing (to taste) to the salad.
Toss and serve the salad with Pecorino Ginepro cheese grated on top along with a glass of Vrienden.
Enjoy and Proost Gezondheid!