If you follow me on Instagram (you should! I post there sometimes!) you may have noticed that over the course of February I was posting shots of various tableaux, usually featuring wine and/or cheese and tagging a local wine shop in all of them. It was part of a promotion they were running in which they would randomly select a winner and give them a $50 gift card, and while winning would obviously be awesome (a winner hasn’t been announced yet as of posting this), I also really liked the chance to exercise some creativity and take some interesting photos. Moreover, it also gave me an excellent reason to experiment some more in making some flavorful accompaniments to cheeses, and while the contest itself may be over, I’m looking forward to expanding my repertoire.
First up on the list: blackberry compote.
Why blackberries, you ask? The reason is simple: they’ve been on sale for most of the month of February both at the Teet and Whole Foods so I’ve been using them all over the place, from snacking on them to testing out reverse spherification using various mixtures. En route to the store one Sunday early in the month I started Googling blackberry compote recipes but none really caught my eye; buying a few pints anyway I figured I’d find something else to try with a more thorough search. That resulted in me stumbling on this Food52 recipe, and so on a Friday morning before work I whipped up a batch and proceeded to fill our open-plan apartment with a very intense smell that resembled the frankincense Catholic priests like to use during special masses. The compote was tasty, but wasn’t quite what I had in mind so the next time I left out the juniper berries and instead used more rosemary in the form of sprigs as well as some rosemary simple syrup. This was more aligned to what I was wanting: sweet but with strong herbal notes that weren’t overly complicated by having too many at the party.
Per the original recipe’s instructions I let the compote cool and then reheated it in the microwave for a minute or so on medium power when I wanted to serve it, and it was such a nice partner to some really creamy Crottin goat cheese. If you wanted to make it a little easier to eat in an entertaining situation, it would also go nicely on toasts that have been spread with some goat cheese (or any soft cheese you may prefer), because admittedly blackberry anything can get very messy and I can completely understand not wanting your guests to have to constantly wash their hands to prevent blackberry stains on their fingers if you just try to eat it as-is.
Pair with your favorite red–I’m a fan of Spanish and Catalunyan garnachas lately myself–and either a gathering of friends or simply your favorite book or TV show, and either way, you’re doing well.
Adapted from this recipe at Food52
1 pint blackberries
4 rosemary sprigs
2 tablespoons rosemary simple syrup (recipe can be found here)
3 black peppercorns
2 good squeezes honey
Juice of half a lemon
Combine all ingredients into a saucepan–make sure the rosemary sprigs are covered by blackberries–and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Let the blackberries start to release their juices and then lower the heat to medium low and let cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. I like to let the berries retain some of their shape, but let it cook for longer if you want something that more closely resembles a syrup.
Fish out the rosemary sprigs (note: the original recipe does mention putting them and the peppercorns in cheese cloth to make it easier to take out at the end, but I like that some of the needles fell into the sauce but I also really, really like rosemary) and place into a bowl to chill for at least a few hours. To serve, reheat in the microwave for about a minute or two on half power, stirring every so often to make sure the mixture is heating evenly. Serve with soft cheese of your choice.