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Madame Fromage and the Farmhouse Platter at Southwark

Aerial view of the Farmhouse Platter (photo courtesy of Madame Fromage)

Philly Homegrown is committed to getting local food into your belly, whether you cook it yourself or you order it up at an area restaurant. In the hopes of highlighting some of the menus that are rife with homegrown ingredients, we’ve partnered with a series of Philly bloggers and have sent them out into the field, to report back on some of those locally sourced dishes.

Once again, our fearless blogger is Tenaya Darlington (aka Madame Fromage), back for another round of local nibbles. She is Philadelphia’s cheese-writer-in-residence and is always on the hunt for a new brie, blue or Boursin.

This week, she’s reporting in from Southwark, the just-south-of-South Street eatery that does its darnedest to feature as much locally grow, raised and produce victuals as possible. Tenaya had the opportunity to try the Farmhouse Platter, a filling, robust plateful that offers up four substantial hunks of artisanal cheese, as well as housemade charcuterie and a number of happy little extras. Read on, cheese lovers.

For $15, this snack plate may be the best deal in the city. You get to sample four artisanal cheeses, an array of house-made charcuterie, plus a hefty helping of olives, fruit, and toasted nuts (filberts, almonds, and pine nuts). With a beer and an appetizer from the main menu, you can make a meal of it.

A pint of Allagash White pairs perfectly – this was the recommendation of Chef Nick Macri, who spirited this work of art to my table last Sunday when I stopped in for a nibble and sip.

Cheeses: Doe Run’s Seven Sisters (PA), Pennsylvania Noble (PA), Anton’s Red Love (Germany), Point Reyes Blue (CA)

Housemade Charcuterie: lomo, duck prosciutto, and rabbit paté with coarse mustard and rustic bread made from locally milled wheat

This is a remarkable cheese plate, and here’s why: the cheeses are perfectly presented at room temperature, and the selections are eclectic. Although flavors collide on this jam-packed platter, you can move from mellow to pungent and snack on palate-cleansing apple fans between bites.

Doe Run’s Seven Sisters is buttery and mild, a perfect place to begin. This is a new local cheese presented by Urban Outfitters moghul Richard Hayne, a fashion man turned country landowner who just launched his own dairy.

Pennsylvania Noble, from Green Valley Dairy in Lancaster County, is the state’s most promising clothbound cheddar. It’s crackin’ sharp — one of my ready steadies whenever I want to impress a British cheese lover.

Anton’s Red Love, well, the name says it all. This Bavarian stinker was a great cuddle partner for the meaty nuts and olives on the plate. If you like Taleggio, this is your next love affair.

Point Reyes Blue is the ice wine of blue cheeses — bracingly fresh. This was a great final bite after the dreamy lomo and rabit paté. The paté is exquisite, by the way — carroty and mild. I could eat it every day for lunch.

For a final hurrah, Monsieur Fromage and I tried the warm Shellbark Crottin de Chevre, a pungent cake of goat cheese from Chester County’s Pete Demchur. Demchur, a mechanic-by-day/cheesemaker-by-night, knows how to bring out the pepper.

This cheese is so intense it will make your eyes water, but it is tamed by preserved plums, roasted radishes, and Chef Macri’s bresaola. If you like robust goat cheese – and, honey, I do – this is a must-try item on your next cheese-seeking mission.

Click here to read Tenaya’s post in its cheese-loving entirety, click here.

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