Pre-Wedge Fest Sublimity at Metrovino

I got my hair cut the other day, and even though I assured the hair stylist that the only post-trim activities I had planned were walking home in the rain and making cinnamon toast and watching 30 Rock on Netflix, she insisted on blow-drying it and laboriously curling it to show me “what was possible.” You know, if I cared about having sublime hair. Which I don’t, because inevitably it’s just going to get wet and frizzy and then accidentally fall in a piece of buttery cinnamon toast. After all, this is Portland, where a woman’s crowning glory is actually her best woolen cap.

wedgeI think this story (sort of) aptly illustrates what last week’s Pre-Wedge Festival cheese luncheon was like. A group of food-minded folks were invited by the Oregon Cheese Guild to convene at restaurateur/wine whisperer Todd Steele‘s lovely Metrovino at high noon, where we were all plied with a procession of executive chef Greg Denton and chef de cuisine Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton‘s ornate cheese-centric dishes, dishes that took delicious Oregon cheeses in their natural, un-blow dried and un-curled state and showed us all “what was possible.” If we were geniusy chef-types who had truffle-salted pistachios and maple-beef chorizo and armagnac prune biscotti lying around the kitchen, that is.

Also present were  six of Oregon’s finest cheesemakers, each of whom said a bit about their cheese before we all fell upon the plates, and then enthralled us with stories of the cheesemaker’s life and times. It’s an extremely demanding profession, but quite rewarding when all is said and aged. I took a few pictures of the feast, and posted the cheesy eye candy below. And naturally, seeing as we were in Metrovino, each course was paired with some superb sip.

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Ferns' Edge Goat Dairy's "Mt. Zion," a raw goats milk cheese atop heirloom tomatoes and basil in a walnut pesto. (Pairing: 2010 Château de Sancerre Sancerre)

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Fairview Farm's raw goats milk tomme "Cascadia," over a fresh corn and pickled chanterelle salad with bacon relish and a few kernels of popcorn for texture. (Pairing: Rogue Dead Guy Ale)

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A crowd pleaser--Rivers Edge's ash-coated, paprika-veined "Sunset Bay" (goats milk) over rounds of housemade maple-beef chorizo topped with crisp ficoide glaciale fronds and marcona almonds and drizzled with a sherry-maple gastrique. (Pairing: Valdespino Contrabandista Amontillado sherry)

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The most comforting of comfort foods--light-as-air biscuits layered with grilled figs, local honey, and gobs of Briar Rose Creamery's silky chévre, with a pinch of sea salt. (Pairing: 2010 Vietti Moscato d'Asti Cascinetta)

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Normally Metrovino serves this dish with Crémeux de Bourgogne, but for this occasion Willamette Valley Cheese Co.'s "French Prairie" brie played understudy for a grateful audience, with oozy wedges set atop fresh and candied cherries dotted with pungent truffle-salted pistachios and crowned with shavings of Italian summer truffle. (Pairing: 2010 Vietti Moscato d'Asti Cascinetta)

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By now we were ALL pretty much under the table, but the show must go on, so the sixth course emerged, fat roasted hazelnuts nestled into slabs of Rogue River Blue, a raw cow's milk cheese, accompanied by cups of white hot chocolate and cornmeal armagnac prune biscotti. (Pairing: 1989 Kopke Colheita Port)

And there you have it. This glorious luncheon was a precursor to this Saturday’s Wedge Festival, which is like a farmers’ market if the market consisted only of cheese booths (OMG). From 10am-4pm, the street outside the Green Dragon Pub (928 SE 9th Ave.) will be chock-full of curds ‘n whey divinity, with a big beer chaser. Co-host Rogue Ales & Spirits will even be offering free cheese and beer-pairing classes.

You’ll find all the aforementioned cheeses you were just salivating over, along with their makers, and I suggest that you buy a bit of each and go home and see what you can rustle up, even if it’s just a chévre-smeared cracker or two. While event admission is free, there is a suggested donation of $5, which helps the Oregon Cheese Guild continue on with their mission of helping Oregon’s artisan cheesemakers community grow and flourish.

See you there? I’ll be the girl with questionable hair, in the cinnamon-crusted woolen cap.

Click here for Official Wedge Festival Info