Announcing the Formaggio Food Community

Julie’s freshly linked Italian sauasges.

I first joined Formaggio Kitchen as an assistant to Julie, our charcutière. As she taught me to make the shop’s range of sausages, pâté, and other cured meats, she talked a lot about sourcing—what she buys from farms in Connecticut, the turnaround time needed for an order of rabbit from Vermont, the best uses for bellies from Massachusetts-raised Berkshire hogs, and the like. For Julie, small, local farms are a natural and non-negotiable part of her work.

Goat’s milk cheeses from Ruggles Hill Creamery in Hardwick, MA. Top: Midnight Moonlight. Bottom: Lea’s Great Meadow.

Shortly after becoming a cheesemonger, I visited Sage Farm Goat Dairy and Spring Brook Farms, two Vermont cheese makers, with our domestic cheese buyer Tripp. His enthusiasm for the cheese artisans of New England is boundless and highly contagious, and meeting the people and animals behind these dairy operations gave me an appreciation of my own.

We buy much of our inventory directly from smaller producers like these who depend on us to represent their products to our customers with knowledge, respect, and passion. Recently, we’ve seen a proliferation of local farmers markets and CSA programs, and my interactions with Julie, Tripp, and our local producers led to a desire to contribute to building strong links to the agricultural community.

Last summer, we started selling cheese on behalf of New England producers at the Cambridge Farmer’s Market. This summer, we are pleased to announce the Formaggio Food Community – a new way to celebrate and support New England’s agricultural artisans. With Local Cheese and In-House Charcuterie options, this program will expand our relationship with local producers and enable Food Community members to take part in our commitment to the food producers of our region.

Housemade pancetta from Vermont pork bellies.

When selecting a source for pork, lamb, rabbit, or duck, our charcutière Julie considers how the animals are treated, what they’re fed, and how they’re processed. This type of transparency is unheard of in mainstream agriculture, but by working with a small network of family farms across New England, Julie is able to factor all of this information into her buying decisions. Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds, for example, is a 50-hog farm, run by a couple in Concord, MA, that sends us pork for our sausages. Our pancetta is made possible by the beautiful pork bellies from PT Farm in St. Johnsbury, VT. The dedication of these small farmers comes through in the quality of their products, which Julie artfully transforms into fresh sausage, pâté, rillettes, and cured meats.  Our Charcuterie membership offers the opportunity to receive her hand-picked selection of delectables each month.

Sheep’s milk cheeses from Bonnieview Farm in Craftsbury, VT. L: Seaver Brook Blue, R: Coomersdale.

If you ask Tripp, our domestic cheese buyer, about the cheese artisans of New England, you’d better be prepared for an earful. He’ll likely give you descriptions of cheese houses, the names of the dogs that guard the animals, and tell you all about the motorcycle one of our favorite producers uses to make deliveries. But you’ll also hear his deep and abiding respect for the contributions these producers make to both New England’s economy, and the craft of artisan cheese in America. Local cheese makers are building on our region’s agricultural heritage and are consistently turning out some of the finest wheels on our cheese wall. Our Local Cheese membership highlights New England’s artisan dairy production through Tripp’s carefully chosen variety of cheeses, each selected at the height of ripeness and flavor.

For more information and to register for the Formaggio Food Community programs, click here.

Erin Carlman Weber is a cheesemonger, charcuterie alumna and the classroom coordinator at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge. She is currently pursuing a Graduate Certificate in the Food Studies program at Boston University.

  • Jo

    I’d love to see a CSA program at th South End store as well — great concept!

  • erincweber

    Thanks, Jo! We’re very excited about these programs. It’s good to know you’re interested in a South End option. We’ll definitely take that into consideration.