Aspen Times Weekly: Wheels on Fire
USA PRO CHALLENGE PAIRINGS
“As more cheesemakers pop up in Colorado, we’re to the point where we could do it,” says Will Frischkorn, owner of Cured in Boulder, about creating a similar series of local cheese and beer pairings to celebrate the upcoming USA Pro Challenge cycling race on August 17-23. Meanwhile try his suggestions, all of which hail from the state:
Avalanche Cheese Cabra Blanca + Funkwerks Saison
Basalt cheese, a gift-box staple at Cured since it opened in 2011, meets funky Fort Collins brew.
James Ranch Leyden + Ska Brewing Modus Hoperandi IPA
Cumin seeds studding this traditional Dutch-style Gouda pair especially well with hoppy beers, such as this IPA — both of which hail from Durango.
Fruition Farms Sheep’s Milk Ricotta or Shepherd’s Halo + Crooked Stave Brewery Surrette Provision Saison
Fresh or bloomy rind cheese from Larkspur sings with a tart, cloudy Denver brew boasting heady tropical fruit notes.
MouCou Cheese Co. Ashley + Telluride Brewing Co. Face Down Brown Ale
“This cheese took them to a next level, says Frischkorn of the mildly sweet, creamy, soft-ripened wheel made with cow’s milk and a central layer of vegetable ash.
CONSIDERED ONE OF the most grueling sporting events in the world, the Tour de France — which began its 112th season on the Fourth of July — sees the most elite cyclists sprint some 2,000 miles in 21 days every summer. Competitors average more than 100 per day as they make their way through the country in an undulating series of daylong stages. What unites fans following the frenzy as it travels throughout the most prestigious wine- and cheese-making regions in the world? We all gotta eat.
So former professional cyclist and Tour de France (TDF) competitor Will Frischkorn, who founded cheese, wine, and provisions shops Cured in Boulder four years ago, has created “Cured de France,” a pairing guide celebrating each stage of the epic race. Every few days until the TDF culminates on July 26, Frischkorn shares different foods of France with Colorado foodies. Though his primary suggestions may be found at respectable shops — including at Cured in Boulder and through online order for next-day delivery to Aspen — he also suggests widely available alternatives that capture the culinary spirit of each stage.
“France is one of those countries where the old adage, ‘eat and drink items from the same place,’ rings true,” Frischkorn says. That means highlighting “classic regional parings of small-batch cheese and interesting, off-the-beaten-path wine. Our trip is a bit more pleasing to the palate and less punishing to the legs.”
Since this year’s TDF launched in the Netherlands, Frischkorn began the Cured de France by featuring a traditional aged Dutch gouda, Wilde Weide, with La Chouffe strong ale from legendary Belgian Brewery Achouffe. Last week, as the peloton traveled counter-clockwise through the cooler climes of northwestern France — “brutal for both cyclists and wine,” notes Frischkorn, who raced the TDF with Team Garmin in 2008 at age 25 — Cured featured Calvados Notre Dame apple brandy alongside small-production Livarot, a gooey, pungent cow’s milk cheese made in Normandy. (Camembert makes a fine substitute.)
“Not many people try Calvados, but you give it to them it with a beautiful, stinky Livarot cheese, and it’s fun to see that response,” Frischkorn says.
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This week, the peloton travels through the Pyrénées in the culinary mecca of Southern France. As such, Cured features Camin Larredya Jurançon Sec, “a textbook example of some of the amazing wines made from hearty, indigenous grapes in the region,” with Berria de Onetik cooperative Bleu de Basques, a new, 80-day aged sheep’s milk cheese that recently nabbed a gold medal in the French Concours Général Agricole. (Frischkorn also suggests Petit Basque, one of my all-time favorite French cheeses. Try it!)
On July 17 to 18, racers tackle the Massif-Central a rough-and-tumble area in the middle of France. To the west is Cahors, the homeland of Malbec wine (Cured features Chaeau la Caminade), and Auvergne, known for its cheese. On offer is nutty Puits d’Astier from respected producer Rudolphe le Meunier; customers may also sample classic Bleu d’Auvergne, supple and less salty than other blues.
Monday, after a rare flatland sprint, the peloton moves up the Rhône and into Provence: rosé territory. So, Cured de France showcases a favorite from Saint André de Figuière that is “tailor-made for cheese.” Because most of the exceptional cheese produced in Provence is consumed in that region, Cured highlights an American goat cheese ripened with ash, Siltcoos, from Rivers Edge Chèvre in Oregon. As the TDF continues through the bucolic Alps on July 24 and 25, customers will sample a new French goat cheese similar to Morbier with elegant Eugene Carrel Jongieux Rouge, a Mondeuse-based red, which “could be one of the best cheese-pairing reds we’ve ever tasted.”
Finally: Paris. Cured celebrates the culmination of the Tour de France on the Champs d’Elysées with Brie and bubbles — Fougerus, named for the fern that graces the top of this gorgeous cheese, and Champagne Moutard Grande Cuvée, made from 100 percent pinot noir at a small, family-owned house.
Frischkorn notes many similarities between his stint as a competitive cyclist — which began at age 18 and saw him win the Colorado Cyclist Challenge, the precursor to the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (which runs through Aspen on Aug. 19 and 20; see sidebar, opposite) in 2005 — and opening Cured with wife, Coral, in Boulder.
“The most important similarity is being able to just put your head down and go,” he says. “Cycling is one of the most brutal sports out there. A restaurant (or other business) in the food world — it’s a lot of work, long hours, keeping it cranking. It was a very easy transition.”
However, “the biggest thing, for me, is the way a team leader rallies a team to perform for them,” he adds. “As a small business owner, you’re doing that on a daily basis with everyone who works for you. And it’s really fun.”
I can’t think of a better match for the Tour de France than regional cheese and wine. Cheers, my dears!
Amanda Rae is a copyeditor and writer for “culture: the word on cheese.” Read her recent story on Avalanche Cheese Company at avalanchecheese.com/rave-reviews. firstname.lastname@example.org
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