I know what you're thinking: "Who on earth is Sofia?" Well, let me begin by telling you how and where I met Sofia. After spending all of yesterday uncomfortably hunched over my laptop and furiously finishing a fairly major assignment for grad school, I woke up this morning craving fresh air and warm sunshine. However, I wanted to branch out from my typical walk-the-streets-and-shop routine. So, I decided to hit-up Green City Market (GCM) in Lincoln Park. I have been putting GCM on my must-go list for far too long without following through, so I considered this the perfect opportunity to make it happen.
Upon arriving at Green City Market, I immediately decided that everyone and everything around me was happy; the vendors were happy, the dogs were happy, the patrons were happy, even the tomatoes appeared pleasantly content. With all this happiness, I found myself in a blissful mood and slowly perused each of the stands. As usually happens without making a proper list before shopping, I haphazardly gathered whatever looked pretty and/or delicious. After purchasing a bouquet of fuchsia flowers, a basket of peaches, and a few heirloom tomatoes, I stumbled upon something that made my heart beat just a little bit faster: a goat cheese stand! The kind gentleman running the stand must have seen my eyes light up because he immediately offered me some samples. The second cheese I tasted was the one I had to have; it was velvety, savory, and mild with ribbons of black ash streaming throughout (sounds weird, tastes good). Without hesitation, I picked up a hunk of the deliciousness I had just enjoyed and handed it to the gentlemen to ring up. Smiling, he said, "Ohh, you like Sofia!" To which I said, "Actually, I think I love her!" Long story, not-so-short, this is how I met Sofia, the amazing goat cheese.
After arriving home, I decided that I would make Sofia the centerpiece of two simple, but flavorful recipes. I never seem to be satisfied with any one set of flavors at a meal, so I often make two small plates to appease my sweet and savory sides. Based on my cravings, I decided to make an heirloom tomato salad with basil, dots of Sofia, and drizzles of balsamic reduction and a Sofia cheese plate with homemade nectarine-plum compote.
The GCM heirloom tomatoes made for a brightly-colored salad, but were only really brought to life by the creaminess of the Sofia and tangy sweetness of the balsamic reduction.
Heirloom Tomato Salad Recipe (Serves 1 to 2)
Blissful Basil Recipe
2 Heirloom Tomatoes
4 Large Basil Leaves
1 oz Sofia Goat Cheese (may substitute regular goat cheese)
⅓ cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper (to taste)
1. Reduce balsamic by placing ⅓ balsamic vinegar in small pan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until balsamic reaches desired thickness (4-6 minutes).
2. Thinly slice tomatoes and basil.
3. Gently crumble 1 oz of Sofia.
4. Layer tomatoes, basil, and Sofia on serving plate and drizzle with balsamic reduction and olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
While the heirloom tomato salad was lovely, the Sofia cheese plate with homemade nectarine-plum compote was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I came home today to find two very ripe nectarines and one lonely, bruised plum who were extremely envious of their new friends' youth (i.e. the unripened peaches that I brought back from GCM). I had to do something with these three little guys, so I decided that a nectarine-plum compote would be the perfect way to jazz-up my cheese plate. However, this compote did more than jazz; it stunned, awed, and amazed.
Nectarine-Plum Compote Recipe (Makes 1 ½ cups)
Blissful Basil Recipe
1 Plum (I used red, but any kind will work)
1 - 3 tsp Agave Nectar (may substitute honey)
⅛ cup Water
1. Thinly slice plum and nectarines.
2. Place plum, nectarines, water, and agave nectar in sauce pan over high heat. (Begin with 1 tsp agave nectar and add more as needed/desired).
3. Bring to a boil.Reduce heat and simmer until desired thickness is reached (approximately 10 minutes).
4. Serve with cheese platters, atop oatmeal, spooned over ice cream, etc.