Sometimes designing a successful new dish comes down to creating a hybrid of two simple, yet very different, classics. That's exactly the concept behind the Maytag blue cheesecake with red grape sorbet at Kenichi in Austin.
"When you think of a cheese plate, a lot of times you'll have something sweet on there like honey or candied nuts," says pastry chef Josh Matlock, who cut his teeth in Singapore and West Hollywood before moving to Austin. "Those types of flavors just blend really well with cheese. And blue cheese is particularly great with grapes; it's a classic pairing that just works."
Matlock decided to use this bold flavor profile to intensify a classic Philadelphia-style cheesecake. The cream cheese and Maytag blue base makes for a super creamy texture with a good amount of acidity and a twinge of salinity.
It is then topped with an icy, fruit-forward sorbet quenelle, which acts as a palate cleanser against the rich and slightly sour cake. Next comes the sweet-tart pop of fresh red grapes (in place of black Japanese kyoho grapes which are now out of season), the earthy crunch of barely candied walnuts, and just the right amount of sandy texture from a buttery graham cracker crust.
"I like to do sorbets with cheesecake because it's already so rich, the fruit adds a bit of freshness and brightness to the dish," says Matlock. As for the cheese selection, he says Maytag isn't his favorite on its own, but he finds it works really well in the kitchen.
"Maytag is a very uncomplicated cheese, a works-like-a-work-horse-type cheese, and it's not too funky," explains Matlock. "I love a good stinky cheese, but not in my dessert!"
About the Author: Veronica Meewes is an Austin-based freelance writer and food blogger who will travel for food but always comes back for breakfast tacos. Follow her on Twitter @wellfedlife and visit her blog.