TEST RECIPE - DIY Goat Cheese
We are huge fans of cheese in this household and when an opportunity to make our own DIY goat cheese via a very thoughtful Christmas present from Graham, we had to try it out. The DIY cheese kit we got was from Belle Chevre, a cheese shop and creamery based in Alabama, and hopefully one I'll get to visit one day on a trip to the South (haha, jk jk.)
Disclaimer: making your own cheese, especially as a first-time beginner, does turn into a bigger production than it might seem at first. Even though I had a (very basic) working knowledge of how making cheese works, the process took more time (and more equipment in the form of bowls, random wooden spoons, paper towels, so on) than the instructions might suggest. That being said, having a massive quantity of delicious goat cheese to do whatever I liked with in the refrigerator was a great motivator, so we got stuck in.
Heat goat's milk on low to medium heat until your submerged thermometer reads 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not forgot to keep stirring continuously to avoid burning. Also, this will take longer than you think (or maybe it was just me being impatient.)
Once the milk reaches 180, take it off the heat and add citric acid, as directed. And this is where it started to go a bit weird - adding the acid is supposed to curdle the milk and begin the process of separating the liquid into solid cheese curds and the liquid, watery whey.
Unfortunately, nothing happened at all until I dumped in three or four times the directed amount of citric acid. You may have to tinker with this based on your goat's milk - maybe the pasteurization makes it harder for the milk to form curds - and maybe even resort to lemon juice as a stronger acid.
At this point, you can start draining the whey from your curds by using a cheesecloth and pouring the liquid - carefully, because it's still hot and there's quite a lot of it still - into the cloth and putting a container below to catch the whey as it drains. While this sounds very straightforward, we did have to end up rigging a makeshift "hobo bundle" with a wooden spoon shoved into a wine rack and then tying the cheesecloth package to it:
After an hour or so, most of the liquid should have drained out which can only mean one thing - your freshly made, raw goat's cheese is nearly complete. I would recommend seasoning your goat cheese with salt and pepper and adding whatever herbs or spices you'd like. As you can see below, we had some plain, some rolled into a chevre log with herbs and some with olive oil and paprika that I ate in vast quantities almost immediately.
Let me know if anyone gives this a try and if there are success stories about not just goat cheese but other varieties as well.
Red Apron Butcher has long (well, since 2013 anyways) been a staple for cuts of great quality meat as well as delicious small-batch charcuterie. However, when the people over at Neighborhood Restaurant Group (also responsible for the new Iron Gate in Dupont Circle and Bluejacket Brewery) opened up a new Red Apron on D Street in Penn Quarter, there was real excitement in this household. Two words: breakfast sandwiches.
(Disclaimer: They're actually more Graham's thing - surprise - but I will certainly get out of bed for some decadent sandwiches on really good bread.)
This review is for Red Apron's weekend brunch menu but it absolutely has to be said that the same owner runs the delicious and hardcore meat-centric dinner place next door called The Partisan, which I will most definitely do a review of once I get clearance from my heart doctor to do a second visit - just kidding, kind of. During the day, Red Apron operates as a butcher shop/cafe and at night, the seating area is converted into the standalone Partisan.
So to the meat and bread:
All of it is delicious and for other meat-lovers out there, it's pretty hard to make a decision on what to order from the Red Apron menu. There's a wide selection of sandwiches, all stuffed with carnivorous delights - pork pastrami, meatballs, Italian deli cuts, roast beef - you get the idea.
Red Apron's Penn Quarter location is also unique in that its breakfast sandwiches come on Italian tigelle round flatbreads - they're kind of like a crispy English muffin. Apparently, chef Nate Anda had to import special molds to create the tigelle as they're not common here in the States. You can get these as part of your breakfast sandwich (choices range from "The Patriot." a relatively basic bacon/egg/cheese combination to the punchy "Buenos Dias", which comes with egg, chorizo, pickled onion, sour cream and oozing cheddar. Guaranteed hangover cure.)
Protip: Don't forget to check out the daily specials - the Sunday special is some roast pork extravaganza with cheesy grits, which as many of you know runs in my blood.
Food: 5/5 (I mean, look at it)
Drinks: 3/5 - no booze here but they do have a good selection of fun soft drinks, like Fever Tree ginger beer and San Pellegrino fruit fizzy sodas
Ambiance: Lots of wood and kind of dark, especially in the cafe seating area. Nice banquettes if you have a group.
Jasmine says: A solid 4/5. I'd be there every day if I worked in that area.
While it's all very fabulous going out to dinner all the time at restaurants (or going at lunchtime as part of an allowable business expense), the truth of the matter is that a lot of office-dwelling trolls/young people like myself utilize a "grab and go" approach to lunch. Usually it's a sad sandwich from the deli downstairs and maybe - if you're having a good day and want to treat yourself - it's a sad sandwich combo (with chips and a drink!) from the deli across the street.
(Maybe it's just me and I'm projecting and maybe all of you are having fabulous lunches at Michelin-starred restaurants all the time. In which case, please ignore this.)
With that in mind, I wanted to put together a series on the blog that chronicles places in downtown DC and the DMV where it's possible to get an economical and tasty lunch that won't break the bank and won't take a million years so that you return to the office discovered your boss has fired you for underperformance (again, projecting.)
Today's NSOL features:
G Street Food
Three locations in downtown DC
What's the deal: Street food inspired snacks and entrees
Wallet damage: Most items under $10; sandwiches come with a side salad or fresh-cut fries (!) for only $1 more
What to get: Halal chicken and lamb combo (it's not Halal Guys but it'll do), banh mi, bulgogi quesadilla, alpine panini (with caramelized onions!)
Apparently these guys also do a killer breakfast sandwich, which is on my list the next time I'm stuck downtown early (or after a long night.)
One woman's journey to eat all the food. Or at least, most of it.
Other sites and blogs (foodie and not) that I reference and enjoy on a regular basis.