A trip through the French Basque country is one of distinct sights, scents, and flavors. Rolling hills of green pastures are punctuated by craggy mountain peaks and deep valleys, and sheep are everywhere! When Ihsan, Valerie and I traveled through the area in the fall, we tasted a huge array of sheep milk cheeses and an assortment of intense but beautiful wines. Here, we’re featuring a few of our favorite tastes: Ardi Gasnas from Fromagerie Pardou and Ekiola, and a killer red wine from Domaine Ilarria of Irouléguy. Ardi Gasna (or gazna) is Basque for “sheep cheese,” and these smooth, rich sheep cheeses are a specialty in the Pyrénées mountains.
The primary goal of our trip to Jasper Hill was to taste Cabot Clothbound Cheddar and select the wheels we thought would best suit our customers. This led us to taste over ten batches ranging from seven to eleven months old.
A delicate, understated Savoie white from Gilles Berlioz, made of 100% Jacquère, is the perfect compliment to one of my favorite aged Sardinian goat’s milk cheeses, Pantaleo. Coupled with some thin slices of exuberantly tart kumquats, I get all the sunshine and scents I need to make it through the deep-freeze of winter.
At this year’s Winter Fancy Food show in San Francisco, I and two of my colleagues at Formaggio Kitchen – Kyra and Julia – were treated to a special opportunity: to taste Montgomery’s cheddar guided by an expert from Neal’s Yard Dairy and the cheese maker himself, Jamie Montgomery.
The Mystic Cheese Company was dreamed up by Brian Civitello and introduces both a new approach to cheesemaking and some delicious, fresh cheeses to our counter!
Here are our top ten food picks for 2013 as chosen in our internal staff survey – plus a few honorable mentions!