Flavor Building - Cheese Board - The Ravens Club
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Flavor Building – Cheese Board

This dish fully represents our ethos in the kitchen. We take the star ingredient and combine flavors and textures to amplify the ingredient, not mask it. With each cheese on our cheese board we started with a broad concept: all cheeses would be American made. Then we narrowed it down to styles and individual concepts of each cheese. Locally made, hand crafted, award winning, price, and availability are all aspects of thought. We started with local and found the Grassfields Fait Gras. A creamy, cheddar-like cows milk cheese, made in Chelsea. After several taste tests and a few flavor profiles we narrowed it down to mustard and fruit and sweet garnishes. From there we figured how to combine those flavors and came up with Roasted Black Grape Mustard. A mustard made from whole grain that has been mixed with grapes roasted in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The grapes stay whole to provide a “pop” to counteract the palate-dense cheese.

Next was artisan. Who is making the truest form of artisan cheese in America? We found Ira Grable out of Massachusetts who is a true one man operation. He milks, cultures, curds, flips, orders, and ships all his cheese by himself. The Berkshire Blue which is a moldy, almost neutral cheese compared to other “blues”. Once tasted, we came up with flavors that were very “heavy”. Cinnamon, red wine, star anise, almond. So we made a chutney with sliced shallots that have been cooked for hours with cinnamon sticks, red wine and sugar to create our shallot marmalade. The crunch from the shallots mixed with the velvet marmalade juice fit the cheese perfectly.

The gruyere was our cheese that we wanted to have that you can get nowhere else in town. To set us apart. We chose the Roth kase Grand Cru because of its high praise and wonderful nuttiness. This cheese which isn’t local or artisan, we wanted to pair it with things that were. So we decided on local and seasonal rhubarb turned into a jam with Founders Reds Rye beer from Grand Rapids. These accompaniments also tie our food program with our bar program, really showcasing that we are a thoughtful restaurant executing as a unit.