Frothy white goat cheese salad inspired by the Röperhof in Hamburg

I travel pretty regularly to Hamburg, and on a recent visit we were taken by a business acquaintance to a marvellously un-businessy sort of place for dinner. I don’t know if the place (I hesitate to call it a restaurant exactly because it is so unlike a run-of-the-mill sort of eatery) was chosen bearing our appreciation of old buildings, or for some other reason, but as a building, especially in Hamburg, the Röperhof is truly exceptional. It’s an old farmhouse, built in 1759, complete with a cottage garden where, in the summer, you can enjoy a hearty brunch, or an indulgent cake.

I was there for dinner however. The whole meal, created by chef, Christian Rindfleisch, was a triumph. But the starter was elegantly simple and easy to replicate.

Recipe for frothy white goat cheese, rolled in crispy breadcrumbs, with red grapes

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 150g/5 oz good, white goat cheese – I use Beau Farm for this
  • 1-2 tbsps double cream
  • 2 tbsps pine nuts
  • 1 small slice of sourdough bread
  • olive oil for frying
  • 8-10 seedless red grapes
  • small bag (60g/2 oz) rocket, or similar salad leaves
  • 2 tbsps walnut oil
  • 1 tbsp thick balsamic vinegar
  • textured salt (Maldon is good) and pepper, or some mild pepper flakes (Urfa ideally)

Method

  1. Take the rind off the goat cheese, put it in a small bowl, and loosen it with the cream. It should still be firm enough to be able to form it into a couple of balls, but not so loose that it becomes liquid.
  2. Dry fry the pine nuts.
  3. Fry the sourdough slice in hot olive oil until crispy and golden.
  4. Cut the fried bread into rough breadcrumbs. I usually do this with a breadknife, but you can use a blender, or grinder if you like. Don’t grind them too fine though.
  5. Get some olive oil good and hot in the same pan and refry the breadcrumbs to give them a bit of additional crunch.
  6. Cut the grapes lengthways into quarters.
  7. Put a couple of handfuls of rocket onto each plate. Dress each with a tablespoon of walnut oil and a couple of teaspoons of thick balsamic. Season with some textured salt and mild pepper flakes.
  8. Divide the cheese into two, and roll into balls, and then in the fried breadcrumbs to coat.
  9. Place atop the bed of dressed leaves and sprinkle around the pine nuts and grapes.

This post is dedicated to Thomas Kaiser, with thanks.

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