Sunday, August 24, 2008

Say It Five Times Fast: Nutty Cheese Ball Cucamonga

Where there is no wine, there is no love.
-- Euripides
There are far too few crazy recipe titles in Adventures in Wine Cookery. No, this is a Serious Cookbook, and has Serious Titles, that are Entirely Descriptive And Not At All Fun.

Well, except this one:
Nutty Cheese Ball Cucamonga

(Makes 1 ball, 1 1/2-lb. size)
Mrs. Frank Pilone, Cucamonga Vineyard Company, Cucamonga

4 ounces blue cheese
6 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated
4 (3-oz.) packages cream cheese
1 tablespoon grated onion
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts
1/4 cup California Sherry

Soften cheese to room temperature. Combine cheeses with onion, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup of the nuts and Sherry. Shape into ball. (If too soft to shape, chill a while.) Roll in remaining 1/4 cup nuts. Chill. Remove from refrigerator about 1/2 hour before serving. Serve with any favorite crackers, letting guests spread their own.

My choice of wine to accompany this dish: California Sherry or Champagne

NOTE: Chopped pecans are particularly fine for this, although walnuts, almonds or other nuts are also good. Slightly toasting the nuts first brings out the flavor and helps keep them crisp.

Okay, so the recipe itself doesn't sound anywhere near crazy; the title carries all the crazy for this dish. And, I suppose, if you're from Cucamonga, it doesn't seem crazy to call a dish Something Something Cucamonga, any more than Walla Walla, Washingtonians would think it weird to call something Something Something Walla Walla. Some things are funny only if you're not there...

A little Google-fu, and I learned that Cucamonga Vineyard Company was a part of Padre Vineyard Company, an old and storied vineyard. Fabulous, legendary wines.... a long time ago, and then a decline and bankruptcy and they are no more.

Frank Pilone was the winemaker for Padre/Cucamonga, no mention on Google about his wife who contributed the Nutty Cheese Ball Cucamonga. If she recommends sherry and bubbly for the dish, you might remember her for being loyal to her husband's work: though they did produce still table wines, they were known for their sparkling wine, and to a lesser degree, their dessert and aperitif contributions.

The semantics geek in me quibbles a bit with the inclusion of this recipe in Adventures in Wine Cookery -- there's no application of heat here. It may be an adventure in wine usage and assembly, or adventure in wine mixing and stirring, but "cookery"?

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