Formaggio Kitchen » Blog http://www.formaggiokitchen.com Artisan cheese, charcuterie and specialty food. Mon, 27 Apr 2015 02:18:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Join Us for Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day 2015!http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/join-us-for-raw-milk-cheese-appreciation-day-2015/ http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/join-us-for-raw-milk-cheese-appreciation-day-2015/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 13:08:34 +0000 http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/?p=11173 “Why Raw Milk?” is a common question at the Formaggio Kitchen cheese counter, and for good reason. Before the advent of pasteurization just over 150 years ago (thanks Louis Pasteur) the world’s cheeses were made exclusively from raw milk. Heating milk to a high temperature (135oF for 30 minutes or 161oF for 30 seconds according to Continue Reading »

The post Join Us for Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day 2015! appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day

“Why Raw Milk?” is a common question at the Formaggio Kitchen cheese counter, and for good reason. Before the advent of pasteurization just over 150 years ago (thanks Louis Pasteur) the world’s cheeses were made exclusively from raw milk. Heating milk to a high temperature (135oF for 30 minutes or 161oF for 30 seconds according to US regulations) has proven to stabilize dairy products and prolong shelf life. While this process has the benefit of reducing the risk of certain contaminating pathogens in milk, it also effectively destroys the vast majority of naturally occurring bacteria in raw milk. These beneficial micro- flora and fauna provide a great potential to produce a wide range of complex flavors and aromas through the cheesemaking and aging process. Although cheesemakers using pasteurized milk can compensate for lack of microbial activity with the addition of commercially produced cultures, these amendments can obfuscate the origin and true character of the milk. Raw milk cheesemakers using safe manufacturing practices can transform this rich, wholesome product into something that is truly evocative of the place where it was made.

Next Saturday, April 18th, we are thrilled to celebrate the first annual Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day. Cheesemakers, retailers, and consumers around the world are getting together to share their love for traditionally made cheeses and raise awareness of the gustatory and nutritional benefits of raw milk cheese. We’ll be featuring a number of our favorite raw milk cheesemakers across all of our locations.

 

Suffolk Punch

Suffolk Punch

PARISH HILL CREAMERY, Westminster West, VT
@ Formaggio Kitchen South End on Saturday, April 18th from 11 am to 3 pm

Renowned cheesemaker and consultant Peter Dixon is heralded by some as the “Godfather of Vermont Cheese.” With over 30 years of raw milk cheesemaking under his belt, Peter has helped craft recipes and design facilities for some of our favorite cheesemakers in the Northeast, including Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet, Vermont. Today, Peter makes cheese with the the help of his wife Rachel in pastoral southern Vermont, where he focuses on adapting classic Italian DOP (protected origin) cheeses to American terroir, including the Cacciocavallo-style “Suffolk Punch” pictured left. Parish Hill’s latest project is a partnership with Crown Heights Finish, an aging facility that takes his young cheeses to Brooklyn for subterranean urban affinage.

 

Greta's Fair Haven

Greta’s Fair Haven

RUGGLES HILL CREAMERY, Hardwick, MA
@ Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge on Saturday, April 18th from 11 am to 3 pm 

Local engineers and innovators Tricia Smith and Michael Holland began raising goats in Carlisle, MA in 2001 and started making cheese in 2005 as Carlisle Farmstead Cheese. They quickly outgrew their first creamery, and settled on the historic Ruggles Family homestead in Hardwick, MA in 2010. Ever since, they have been producing some of our favorite goat cheeses with a precision and attention to detail that reflects their commitment to sustainability and a true passion for their trade. Their herd of about 16 does are milked by hand and help support production of small-format bloomy-rinded cheeses, each named after one of their goats. Greta’s Fair Haven is Tricia and Michael’s only raw milk cheese, and its delightfully dense, herbaceous paste is clothed in a delicate,
earthy rind.

 

Tekenink Tomme

Tekenink Tomme

ROBINSON FARM, Hardwick, MA
@ Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge on Saturday, April 18th from 11 am to 3 pm

Since 1892, the Robinson Family has been farming in the rolling hills of central Massachusetts. Fifth-generation farmer Ray Robinson and wife Pamela manage a certified organic diversified farm featuring a milking herd of over 40 Holstein, Jersey and Normandy cows. In 2004, the couple decided to expand their operation beyond fluid milk, and began taking classes and experimenting with cheesemaking. Since 2009, they have been making exclusively raw milk, farmstead cheeses, in the French and Swiss Alpine tradition. Our latest offering from Robinson Farm is a grassy, washed-rind wheel called Tekenink (tay-kah-nink) Tomme that has a wonderfully complex finish redolent of horseradish and earth.

 

Ekiola Ardi Gasna

Ekiola Ardi Gasna

FROMAGERIE EKIOLA, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France
Cheese available at all Formaggio Kitchen locations

In the heart of Basque country in the high mountains of the Pyrénées, husband and wife Désiré and Kati Lathayo make some of our favorite Ardi Gasna (Basque for sheep’s cheese) on the planet. At Fromagerie Ekiola (translated as “mountain hut”), the Lathayo family makes Ekiola Ardi Gasna, the only farmstead or fermier cheese we import from the region. The label of fermier indicates that the cheesemaker is sourcing their milk from their animals and aging and marketing their cheeses at the farm. For smaller productions like Fromagerie Ekiola, this ensures optimum quality control and a distinct expression of terroir. Ekiola Ardi Gasna is a perennial staff favorite at Formaggio, and one of the most nuanced raw milk cheeses on our counter.

 

Pecorino Caggiano

Pecorino Caggiano

AZIENDA AGRICOLA CAGGIANO-SUMMO, Basilicata, Italy
Cheeses available at all Formaggio Kitchen locations

In southern Italy, the Caggiano-Summo family raises cows, goats, and sheep and a host of other livestock in the town of Forenza. Michael Caggiano donned his family farm “Il Parco Delle Bontà” (literally translated as the park of goodness) when he founded the operation in 1974. Today, matriarch Maria Caggiano oversees the production of incredible raw milk cheeses, breeding stock, and pork and salami. We offer a selection of Caggiano’s rustic, singular cheeses including on of our favorite Pecorino Stagionato styles, Pecorino di Caggiano. Every wheel we receive differs in size and age (and character), but we embrace all of these delicious variations as the mark of a true artisan producer.

 

Please join us at the shop this Saturday, April 18th where we’ll be celebrating raw milk cheese (as always) and offering samples of our favorites!!

 

Rory Stamp is a classroom instructor, Wine Buyer, and cheese monger at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

The post Join Us for Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day 2015! appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/join-us-for-raw-milk-cheese-appreciation-day-2015/feed/ 0
Vieilles Vignes: Do Old Vines Make Better Wine?http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/vielles-vignes-do-old-vines-make-better-wine/ http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/vielles-vignes-do-old-vines-make-better-wine/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 14:22:46 +0000 http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/?p=11122 Vieilles vignes is a phrase you frequently see on French wine labels. These are somewhat mysterious words since, though it’s obvious they refer to vines of some advanced age (it literally means old vines), it isn’t immediately clear (a) how old ‘old’ is and (b) why we should care. The conventional wisdom has it that Continue Reading »

The post Vieilles Vignes: Do Old Vines Make Better Wine? appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>

Gnarly 90 year-old grenache vines in the Languedoc

Vieilles vignes is a phrase you frequently see on French wine labels. These are somewhat mysterious words since, though it’s obvious they refer to vines of some advanced age (it literally means old vines), it isn’t immediately clear (a) how old ‘old’ is and (b) why we should care.

The conventional wisdom has it that old vines have an advantage over younger ones because they’ve developed more robust, wide-ranging root systems. It’s true that roots that reach deep into the earth may be able to tap reserves of moisture that in a hot, dry summer wouldn’t be available to vines of less maturity. While this may have an impact on vine survival, it’s not clear that these superannuated plants take advantage of their more developed, deeply-searching roots to make better wine – at least not in a way that’s consistent enough to make a rule of.

On the contrary, there is anecdotal evidence that very young vines can occasionally make startlingly fine wine. The 1973 Stag’s Leap cabernet that bested the bordeaux first-growths Mouton-Rothschild and Haut-Brion in the famous “Judgment of Paris” tasting in 1976 was made from vines only three years old.

There is some thought that vines in their very first bearing year are not as vigorous as they will become and so have a better balance of leaves to fruit. But there’s also the fact that as the older vines grow, the fruit and canopy they produce diminishes and in this way may eventually circle back to the same sort of balance they enjoyed in youth. The lower fruit yields that characterize older plants also figures in: offering more root and vine support for ever-fewer grapes. Very old vines typically yield little fruit. For some this fact alone is sufficient to demonstrate their superiority.

I was listening intently one day recently to David Mitchell of Mise Wines touting the one hundred year-old carignan vines farmed by France Crispeels in the Languedoc and the great character they give her red cuvées. He claims that part of their greatness is that in addition to being vieilles, they are also malades (sick). He argues that by being both old and unhealthy they offer a double advantage to the winemaker. It may be so, but don’t expect to to see wines labeled vignes vieilles et malades any time soon.

Reading about old vine wine is interesting, but tasting them is better. If you’d like to actually sample the character vieilles vignes are capable of pull the cork on some of the following — available at Cambridge and South End locations as indicated.

  • Vignobles Reveille “Climax” Cotes de Roussillon – 75% carignan; 25% grenache; average vine age 40 years. Cambridge and South End
  • Ostertag Vieilles Vignes Alsace Sylvaner – 100% sylvaner; average vine age 50 years. Cambridge
  • Raquillet Vieilles Vignes Mercurey – 100% pinot noir; average vine age 60 years. Cambridge
  • Domaine Ledogar “La Mariole” Vin de Pays de l’Aude- 100% carignan; average vine age 100 years. Cambridge
  • Clos Centeilles “Carignanissime” Minervois – 100% carignan; average vine age 100 years. Cambridge and South End
  • Carl Schmitt-Wagner Riesling Kabinett Herrenberg – 100% riesling; average vine age 100+ years. South End

 

Stephen Meuse is a wine buyer at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge, and regularly talks wine on local PBS affiliate WGBH with America’s Test Kitchen Radio host Christopher Kimball

The post Vieilles Vignes: Do Old Vines Make Better Wine? appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/vielles-vignes-do-old-vines-make-better-wine/feed/ 0
The Color of Eggs: An Interview with Our Resident Egg-sperthttp://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/the-color-of-eggs-an-interview-with-our-resident-egg-spert/ http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/the-color-of-eggs-an-interview-with-our-resident-egg-spert/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 13:04:53 +0000 http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/?p=11034 White, brown, blue, green; speckled, striped, solid, blushed; boiled, scrambled, fried, whipped — there are so many kinds of eggs and so many delicious ways to use them! To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of eggs as a kid, but eggs are now one of my favorite things to buy here at Formaggio Kitchen. Not only Continue Reading »

The post The Color of Eggs: An Interview with Our Resident Egg-spert appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
Sweet Autumn Farm Eggs

A colorful array of Sweet Autumn Farm eggs (all from the same half dozen!)

White, brown, blue, green; speckled, striped, solid, blushed; boiled, scrambled, fried, whipped — there are so many kinds of eggs and so many delicious ways to use them! To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of eggs as a kid, but eggs are now one of my favorite things to buy here at Formaggio Kitchen. Not only do I love them as a hearty snack, or watching them transform other ingredients when baking, but I love buying from the local farms we work with. I still remember the first egg I ate that didn’t come from a giant chain grocery store — the color of the yolk, the richness of the flavor, the delicacy of texture. Seasonality, freshness, and the animals’ health and diet all play big roles in the world of eggs, and buying from our Massachusetts producers helps me remember this remarkable fact.

As eggs start appearing more prominently on our tables for Easter and Passover, what better chance to acknowledge some of what makes this food so magical! I took the time to chat with Emily, our resident egg-spert and Produce Manager at the Cambridge shop, for more details:

 

Emily Shannon, Produce Manager

Emily Shannon, Produce Manager at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge

(Rob) Tis the season for Easter egg dying – but why are some eggs naturally different colors?

(Emily) The reason why some eggs are naturally different colors is based solely upon the breed of chicken. Eggs can range widely in color, the most common variants being white, cream, and light to dark brown eggs. All hens lay eggs made of the same white material, calcium carbonate, but certain breeds deposit different pigments on the egg shell as it forms. Some hens produce blue, olive, and even lightly tinted purple and pink eggs. For instance, the Araucana breed lays a very deep, pretty blue egg. And the appropriately named Olive Egger breed lays eggs that are – you guessed it – olive green in color.
 
(Rob) What can the appearance of an egg tell us about the way in which a chicken was raised?
 
(Emily) While the color of the eggshell does not indicate the flavor by any means, there are other ways to determine the freshness and flavor of the egg. An egg fresh from the farm will be much harder to peel once hardboiled than an older egg, and, unlike the shell, the color of the yolk depends mostly on the diet of the bird. A bright, golden orange yolk is usually an indicator of a healthy, well balanced diet rich in xanthophylls (leafy greens such as spinach, kale and other brassicas) omega-3 fatty acids, and meats (insects such as grasshoppers, mealworms, grubs, etc.). This can still vary over the course of the year though (as diets change, for example often decreasing in protein over the winter).
(Rob) Where do we get our eggs from here at the shop?
 
(Emily) At Formaggio Kitchen, we buy our eggs from local Massachusetts farms. We buy chicken eggs from Chip-In Farm in Concord, chicken and duck eggs from Sweet Autumn Farm in Carlisle and chicken eggs from Silverbrook Farm in Westport, Massachusetts.
 
(Rob) Besides the obvious, what are the differences between a chicken egg and a duck egg?
 
(Emily) Duck eggs are slightly larger and the eggshell is much smoother to the touch than chicken eggs. In addition, the yolk is bigger and often more rich in flavor.
 
(Rob) Easter and Passover are all about the hardboiled egg – what’s your favorite egg recipe or preparation technique?
 
(Emily) I love soft boiled or poached eggs! Here’s a great instructional video courtesy of the New York Times describing how to poach an egg.
 
Thanks Emily!
 
Rob Campbell is a culinary adventurer, world traveler, science geek, and also the blog manager at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

The post The Color of Eggs: An Interview with Our Resident Egg-spert appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/the-color-of-eggs-an-interview-with-our-resident-egg-spert/feed/ 0
When Red Wine Grapes Go Whitehttp://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/when-red-wine-grapes-go-white/ http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/when-red-wine-grapes-go-white/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:05:22 +0000 http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/?p=11027 Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, Sangiovese. The names of these grapes inspire images of red hues ranging from autumn auburn to vibrant vermilion; tastes of smoke, berries, cherries, and chocolate; textures ranging from tongue gripping to smooth satin. Yet we owe these sensory impressions largely to the skin of these grapes, and the Continue Reading »

The post When Red Wine Grapes Go White appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
When Red Grapes Go White

When Red Grapes Go White: Hexamer Spätburgunder Weissherbst and Rainoldi Zapel

Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, Sangiovese. The names of these grapes inspire images of red hues ranging from autumn auburn to vibrant vermilion; tastes of smoke, berries, cherries, and chocolate; textures ranging from tongue gripping to smooth satin. Yet we owe these sensory impressions largely to the skin of these grapes, and the time the juice of each grape spends fermenting in contact with its skin.

We are familiar with the practice of making a white wine from a traditionally red-wine grape when it comes to Champagne, which frequently is made at least in part from Pinot Noir. Outside of this, though, the idea of a white wine with any of the names above seems counter intuitive, or just plain odd.

We have on our shelves, however, two exceptional examples of the white vinification of red wine grapes that may convince you to become color-blind.

Rainoldi’s Zapel is mostly Nebbiolo with a bit of Sauvignon Blanc. Fermented at low temperatures – to enhance the aromatic, fresh characteristics that the grapes naturally lend to the wine – and aged for a few months in stainless steel tanks, this wine is lightly yeasty and lemony on the nose. In your mouth, it feels like biting into a ripe Granny Smith apple – both crisp and full with a good acidity. Just a little basil and sage on the finish make this a wonderful wine to enjoy with meal of simple, delicate flavors.

The 100% Pinot Noir grapes for Hexamer’s Spätburgunder Weißherbst (Spätburgunder is the German name for Pinot Noir) are hand-picked and vinified at very cold temperatures using only natural yeasts. Just a blush of peach in color, with gentle aromas of almonds, this wine is slightly frizzante, bittersweet orange in flavor, and finishes with a tingly bite. While this would be a perfect aperitif, it also would also stunningly compliment some richer desserts – think custards and buttercream-filled pastries.

For a fun experiment – pair one of these head-to-head with its red vinified counterpart and see if you can tease out components of flavor, properties of texture, or other characteristics that are indicative of the juice of the grape and transcend its skin and the winemaking process.

Rainoldi Zapel and Hexamer Spätburgunder Weissherbst 2013 are both available at Formaggio Kitchen South End, or for pick-up at Formaggio Kitchen Camrbidge with one day’s notice.

 

Marianne Staniunas is a cheesemonger and a member of the Wine Department at Formaggio Kitchen South End, Boston.

The post When Red Wine Grapes Go White appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/when-red-wine-grapes-go-white/feed/ 0
Matcha, Sencha, Gyokuro, Hojicha: A Guide to Ippodo’s Japanese Green Teashttp://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/matcha-sencha-gyokuro-hojicha-a-guide-to-ippodos-japanese-green-teas/ http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/matcha-sencha-gyokuro-hojicha-a-guide-to-ippodos-japanese-green-teas/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 13:20:58 +0000 http://blog.formaggiokitchen.com/?p=10067 Don't be intimidated by different tea preparation styles! Our growing selection of Japanese green teas provides exciting insight into Japan's rich tea heritage.

The post Matcha, Sencha, Gyokuro, Hojicha: A Guide to Ippodo’s Japanese Green Teas appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
Ippodo Matcha

Ippodo Matcha

Matcha, gyokuro, sencha, hojicha, these are familiar terms to Japanese tea lovers, but to many Americans they’re still pretty obscure. To be honest, I think it’s hard to find really great examples of these teas outside of Japan. That’s why I’m so excited to bring in several varieties from Ippodo Tea Co., one of Japan’s premier tea companies based in Boston’s sister-city, Kyoto.

Ippodo was founded nearly 300 years ago, in 1717 during Japan’s Edo period. With their close proximity to the Kyoto Imperial Palace and a commitment to high quality tea, they quickly attracted the attention of members of the Imperial family. In 1846 Prince Yamashina formalized this long-standing relationship by giving the store the name Ippodo (一保堂, literally “preserve one”) in the hopes the shop would “forever preserve its tradition of providing high quality tea with a supreme taste.” Almost 170 years later, Ippodo is still committed to that mandate – carefully selecting the finest leaves from around Kyoto. This area is the most renowned, high-end tea growing region in the country, thanks to a mineral-rich soil, mild climate, and a delicate balance of sunshine and rainfall (as well as the longest history of tea cultivation in Japan!).

Many Americans know of the Japanese tea ceremony, an extremely formal and artful method of tea preparation that takes years of practice to master and is a world-renowned symbol of Japanese culture; however, people in Japan drink tea far more casually than that every day. The preparation is a little different (often smaller servings than the mugs we’re used to here in the states), and there certainly are “best practices” for extracting the fullest flavors (usually involving a Japanese style tea pot), but for the most part you can enjoy these teas with however much or little fuss you feel like putting into them. Classic everyday Japanese teas are hojicha, sencha and some types of matcha, while gyokuro and other matchas traditionally require a bit more work.

hot tea vending machine

A machine for dispensing little cups of green tea that I encountered last month in Japan! Proof that not every cup has to be hard to make.

Now that they’re here, I’ve had so much fun folding Ippodo’s teas into my weekly tea drinking routine – from formal to casual preparation styles. Here’s a quick rundown on what each of these tea-types means, and how to get the most out of their unique flavors!

Matcha

Ippodo’s matchas are all made from gyokuro green tea, the leaves carefully destemmed and deveined before being ground into a fine powder. In addition to differences between most U.S. and Japanese matcha, there are many different grades of matcha in Japan, all of which can be broken down into two rough categories – those for preparing “thin tea” (usucha 薄茶) and those for preparing “thick tea” (koicha 濃茶). Most matcha is consumed as the thinner usucha, but for special occasions (and formal tea ceremonies), koicha is a real treat. Traditional matcha preparation uses a bamboo whisk for mixing with water; however, I know many people who toss it into smoothies or froth it with milk for matcha lattes (and I have fond memories of using a coffee stirrer to make low-grade matcha at conveyer belt sushi restaurants!). Perhaps the easiest way to make good matcha is to add it to hot water in a thermos and then shake until mixed for on-the-go enjoyment! Ippodo has an amazing set of short tutorials on matcha preparation that are a must for anyone looking to hone their technique.

Matcha Best Practices:

  • Water should calm from a boil to ~80oC/176oF (simply pour your water into an empty cup before pouring it over the matcha powder)
  • For usucha (thin tea): Aim for 2 grams (~1 heaping teaspoon) of matcha powder per 120ml (~1/2 cup) of hot water
  • For koicha (thick tea): Use 4 grams (~2 heaping teaspoons) of matcha powder per 60ml (~1/4 cup) of hot water

 

Gyokuro

Sometimes called “the whiskey of green teas,” gyokuro is a specialty grade of Japanese tea meant to be savored in small sips. The leaves are shade grown, giving the resulting tea a rich and nuanced flavor particularly high in the amino acid theanine. When not ground into matcha, full leaf gyokuro is perhaps the most important tea to prepare with a Japanese teapot—which helps you carefully extract every last drop of liquid from the leaves. That said, I make gyokuro for myself in a mug or other style of teapot all the time. Perfectly brewed gyokuro is a true art – layers of rich umami flavor that finishes smooth without too much bitterness – but simplified versions of the process (including Ippodo’s gyokuro tea bags) still produce a tea worth savoring. My new favorite method is to brew it iced. Steep leaves or a tea bag in ice and cold water for 15 minutes, truly refreshing!

Gyokuro Best Practices

  • Cool water from boiling to around 60oC/140oF before brewing. Ippodo recommends using three tea cups to cool the water – first fill one with freshly boiled water, then transfer the water to the second and finally the third cup before pouring it over the leaves
  • Steep for 1.5 minutes to allow the leaves to properly unfurl
  • Since the leaves have already unfurled you do not need to steep the leaves if you reuse them! For another infusion, simply pour new water over the leaves and then pour the tea immediately into your cup
  • Use ~80ml (1/3 cup) of water for 2 tablespoons of tea leaves
  • Try to pour every last drop of liquid from the leaves (without pressing them!) to extract all that amazing umami flavor

 

Sencha

Sencha is one of the most globally popular Japanese teas, and even though it is traditionally a higher grade tea, these days it is quite common for everyday drinking both abroad and in Japan. Well made sencha should reveal a balancing act that sets it apart from its shade-grown cousin gyokuro – sencha is sweet, bitter, grassy, astringent, and umami rich all at once. Really excellent sencha is prepared similarly to gyokuro, and Ippodo recommends steeping closer to a minute than America’s more popularly recommended 3 minutes. Often I’ve opted to steep my sencha even lighter, closer to 30 seconds, but after a recent trip to Japan I’m excited to bring out more of that classic, invigorating bitterness!

 Sencha Best Practices

  • Water should calm from a boil to ~80oC/176oF before brewing (simply pour boiling water into an empty cup before pouring it over the tea leaves)
  • Steep for about 1 minute to best balance sencha’s flavors
  • Since the leaves have already unfurled you do not need to steep the leaves if you reuse them! For another infusion, simply pour new water over the leaves and then pour the tea immediately into your cup
  • Use around 210ml (a scant cup) of water per 2 tablespoons of tea leaves (makes around 3 tea cups worth of tea)
  • Try to pour every last drop of liquid from the leaves (without pressing them!) to extract all the sencha’s flavors

Hojicha

Perhaps the most forgiving of our new Japanese teas, hojicha is a delicious roasted “bancha,” a lower grade of tea for everyday drinking that requires much less fuss than gyokuro or matcha. I find hojicha stands up perfectly well to freshly boiled water, and a longer steep simply accentuates the roasted flavor, so this is one tea you can definitely brew more like the black teas we’re used to drinking in the US. Unlike sencha and gyokuro, which were the teas of feudal Japan’s upper class, banchas like hojicha were historically the tea of the common people. Farmers would brew up a pot first thing in the morning before going out to the fields, leaving it to steep all day as a ready source of refreshment. While I still think multi-hour steeped hojicha would be too strong for my taste, the real lesson in this story is that you should definitely prepare hojicha however you like! Ippodo’s hojicha has often been called the best in all of Japan, and it is definitely among the most aromatic and nuanced hojicha I’ve ever had. I particularly love it on grey or windy days, and as an afternoon sip with my more coffee-inclined friends.

Hojicha Best Practices

  • Use freshly boiled water to brew your tea
  • Ippodo recommends using 4 tablespoons of tea to get the best flavor, even if you’re just making a single serving! However, this would also be enough for a full pot shared among three or four people
  • Steep for about 30 seconds
  • Try to pour every last drop of liquid from the leaves (without pressing them!) to extract all the nuances of hojicha’s rich, roasted flavor

 

Rob Campbell is a culinary adventurer, world traveler, science geek, and also Tea Buyer at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

The post Matcha, Sencha, Gyokuro, Hojicha: A Guide to Ippodo’s Japanese Green Teas appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/matcha-sencha-gyokuro-hojicha-a-guide-to-ippodos-japanese-green-teas/feed/ 0
Vallana Winery: A Tasting with 5th Generation Vintner Marina Fogarty (Part 2 of 2)http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/vallana-winery-a-tasting-with-5th-generation-vintner-marina-fogarty-part-2-of-2/ http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/vallana-winery-a-tasting-with-5th-generation-vintner-marina-fogarty-part-2-of-2/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 13:13:46 +0000 http://blog.formaggiokitchen.com/?p=10069 Just last week we were lucky enough to host Marina Fogarty, of the Alto Piemontese Vallana Winery, for a wine tasting and primer on her family's illustrious winemaking history.

The post Vallana Winery: A Tasting with 5th Generation Vintner Marina Fogarty (Part 2 of 2) appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
Vallana Wines

Two wonderful Vallana Winery reds — Campi Raudii and Gattinara — at Formaggio Kitchen South End

In the early 1800’s there was a priest in Alto Piemonte whose job it was to keep the cellars of the local bishop filled with wine. As he was getting on in years his niece was coming of age, and on the occasion of her wedding he made a gift to her of a portion of the vineyards he tended. Upon her marriage, his niece became a member of the Vallana family, and the rest . . . is history.

For more background, read part one of this blog series about the Vallana estate.

Just last week Marina Fogarty, of the 5th generation of the Vallana Winery, briefly passed through the Boston area and generously agreed to stop by our South End shop for an after-hours staff tasting. While we sipped through three of her family’s sumptuous offerings, Marina treated us to a lesson in history, geography, and anthropology that added a different kind of depth to her beautiful wines.

As we sniffed, sipped, and swished Campi Raudii (lovely, silky cherry and berry fruits; delicate acidity, gorgeous deep purple color), Marina explained that the soil of the Alto Piemonte region differs starkly from the nearby Langhe region, largely due to a supervolcano – an eruption so powerful that it entirely restructured the mineral composition of the soil. The overall climate, she explained, varies depending on the site of each wine producing village-appellation within Alto Piemonte, with the region’s proximity to the Alps creating numerous microclimates. These determine how the grapes grow, when they ripen and even how acidic their juice will be. The Campi Raudii blends Nebbiolo and Vespolina (one of Alto Piemonte’s indigenous grapes) pulled from several of Vallana’s vineyard sites. Perfectly drinkable without much aging, it highlights the most readily approachable aspects of each annual harvest. Campi Raudii, latin for “Red Field”, refers to the deep rusty color of some of the soil of the region, which was the site of a famous battle of 101 B.C., where the Romans held back the advance of the Germanic Cimbrian tribes invading from the north (and, as Marina noted, possibly prevented the region from becoming known for its beer rather than its wine).

Marina brought with her a bottle from the family’s vineyards in the village-appellation of Boca from the 2007 vintage – a wine none of us had tasted before. As we explored its flavors – richer than the Campi Raudii, with blackberries, a bit of black pepper, and earth; balanced by a deep acidity – Marina placed this wine for us. The northernmost appellation of Alto Piemonte, Boca has tough, rocky soil and mountain exposure, which can lead to challenging, cool growing conditions and late harvesting. Vallana’s interpretation of this wine, a blend of Nebbiolo, Vespolina, and, in this year, a bit of Uva Rara, demonstrates the fact that while some Alto Piemonte producers choose only to use Nebbiolo, appellations within the region are permitted to use some percentages of traditional, local varietals to balance and enhance the Nebbiolo. Vallana frequently does so – both to craft the flavor and ageability profiles they want to see in their wines, and to preserve the traditional winemaking practices of the region.

Finally, we dove into a bottle from the Gattinara appellation from the 1997 vintage. 100% Nebbiolo, with cigar smoke, cloves, and cinnamon on the nose, and a powerful acidity that gracefully eases into soft cherries. Marina explained that 1997 was an old-style, classic vintage for them. She tasted with us – although she had opened another 1997 just the day before – because every bottle has its own personality. “Wine is really alive.” If opened and tasted just after bottling, Marina shared, the wine is often uncomfortable, needing some time to settle into its new confinement. Similarly, once it gets situated, when first opened, it may become cross, taking some time to ease back into the open air. She found this one (breathing for several hours before pouring) strong and rich – and suggested we should seek out some steaks or other hearty, carnivorous fare to share with it.

Humbly but proudly, Marina mentioned that her family was producing village-specific wines many years before these villages were given their official appellations – meaning that Vallana wines defined, in part, the characteristics of these appellations. When asked about her family’s farming and winemaking traditions: “Practical.” So-called “organic” practices are just the way they have always worked; winemaking simply as a part of life – dependent on and in harmony with the dirt, air, water, flora, and fauna of Alto Piemonte.

Vallana Winery’s Campi Raudii and Gattinara are available at Formaggio Kitchen South End, or at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge with at least one day’s notice.

Marianne Staniunas is a cheesemonger and a member of the Wine Department at Formaggio Kitchen South End, Boston.

The post Vallana Winery: A Tasting with 5th Generation Vintner Marina Fogarty (Part 2 of 2) appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/vallana-winery-a-tasting-with-5th-generation-vintner-marina-fogarty-part-2-of-2/feed/ 0
Declare Your Love for Localhttp://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/declare-your-love-for-local/ http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/declare-your-love-for-local/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 13:28:06 +0000 http://blog.formaggiokitchen.com/?p=9497 Many people come to us for our direct imports, but our selection of local products is just as strong.

The post Declare Your Love for Local appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
Local Carlisle Honeys

An array of local honeys from Carlisle Honey in Carlisle, MA.

Several weeks into the new year, we are starting to see how our resolutions are panning out (mine — not so well). One thing I have had a lot of success with is eating and shopping more locally, thanks in large part to being here at Formaggio Kitchen.

We work hard to bring in some of the finest foods from all around the globe, highlighting small producers and family-owned businesses we know and trust; the quality of the products is simply better, and we aim to honor their hard work and passion. From brebis and gouda to stilton and English cheddar, some products are simply best made where they originated, by the farm families who hold time-honored recipes.

Lucky for us, being in the agriculturally-rich and food-forward region that is New England, our side of the pond has a lot to offer, too. Many of our awesome cheesemakers, farmers, chocolatiers, brewers, bakers and other producers are located locally, even within 100 or so miles of our Cambridge shop. We love that they are able to stop by and deliver their own product, sample out goodies to customers and maintain a local presence in the store, and I try to support them each time I shop for my own groceries after work.

Local can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but one simple way to narrow it down is to set a mileage limit — 100 miles from your location is a common choice. We may not be able to grow or make everything within 100 miles of 244 Huron Avenue, but we’re proud to showcase plenty of options from our local producers! Here are some of my favorite local products:

 

Honey

New England is rich in small, local honey producers, and Massachusetts is no exception. Rick Reault, of Carlisle Honey (Carlisle) is a legend in the Massachusetts bee community. With over 10 years of bee keeping experience at Carlisle Honey, Reault is also one of the most influential teachers of beekeeping practices in the state. Most honey producers have worked with him at some point in setting up or maintaining their hive, and Reault is a major force in expanding bee keeping to new families and new generations. We’re particularly excited about Carlisle Farm’s new single varietal honey, Red Bamboo. One of the only single varietal honeys we’ve see in New England, this darker colored honey is made with the nectar of the Japanese Knotweed plant, with a warm round sweetness. Run Dog Run Farm (Westport), is another of our favorite local producers, producing exceptional wildflower honey as part of the operations on their family farm, as are the beautiful bottles of honey from the small honey producer Black Pond Apiaries (Harvard).

 

Cheese

Did you know that Massachusetts was the birthplace of American artisan cheese? (I bet you thought it was Vermont) According to the Massachusetts Cheese Guild – which represents some of our local producers like Ruggles Hill Creamery (Hardwick) and Mozzarella House (Everett) – Massachusetts has been leading the charge with the nation’s first dairy cows since 1624. And, naturally, where there is milk, there is someone figuring out how to store surplus milk – in wheels of delicious cheese.

Cato Corner Farm (Colchester, CT) is nearly local under our criteria, and they have been turning out cheeses from their small herd of Jerseys for decades. We recently received a wheel of their ever-popular Bridgid’s Abbey for our counter – a slightly squishy, extremely versatile cheese; it sits next to consistent customer favorite and award-winner, the creamy and stinky Hooligan. A newer cheesemaker, the almost six-year old Grey Barn Farm (Chilmark) is keeping Massachusetts’ cheese tradition alive and growing with cheeses from their own herd’s organic milk. With new cheeses coming in all the time, ask your cheesemonger for their favorite local cheese of the week!

 

Tea

Similarly, you may think tea is something that simply needs to be imported. For the most part, you’re right – despite ongoing efforts to propagate camela sinensis here in the states. However, herbal tea is another story. We were so excited to finally start sourcing local tea last fall! Karnak Farm in Saco, Maine grows acres of elderberry and chamomile plants destined for high-quality herbal infusions. (It’s 99 miles away! Really glad it just makes our 100-mile cutoff.) Their elderflower tea makes a delicately sweet, floral beverage with a lightly creamy mouth-feel that’s perfect for warming up on a wintry day.

Karnak Farm Elderflower

Locally grown Karnak Farm elderflower tea (Saco, Maine)

 

Produce 

We love our local New England produce. Red Fire Farm (Granby), Sweet Autumn Farm (Carlisle), and Joe Czajkowski Farm (Hadley) all fall within 100 miles of Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge, and bring in some of the best produce items year round. As we get closer to spring and summer, we can’t wait for Red Fire’s French breakfast radishes, Joe Czajkowski’s ramps and fiddleheads, and Sweet Autumn Farm’s duck eggs and specialty produce like green eggplant. Just outside our 100-mile mark, on the border with Massachusetts in the Berkshires, is Sparrow Arc Farm (Copake, NY), another of our favorite local producers. Among other things we’re hoping for more fresh fava beans from them in the spring!

Perhaps even better is the upcoming local morel season! We’ll be getting some locally foraged morels from New England fungi authority Ben Maleson (the exact location of the miraculous local treats is a well kept secret, but we’ve got an inkling they’re just within Boston’s city limits). Another amazing local resource is Four Star Farms (Northfield). We source locally grown wheat flour, corn meal, wheat berries and other grains from this sustainability-focused farm.

 

Bread

Though eyes usually dart to baguettes, ciabatta and other mainstays of the bread counter, I really like taking home Dan’s Brick Oven Bread (Richmond, NH), especially his original desem loaf. Desem refers to a whole wheat sourdough starter, and from the aforementioned brick oven up in Richmond, New Hampshire, Dan stone mills heirloom grains for his flours and turns out gorgeous, dark round loaves made with this natural leavening agent. The resulting bread is dense and nutty, full of satisfying whole-grain texture and a slightly tangy flavor. Because it’s a sourdough bread, it keeps very well, too. It goes with all the winter soups I’ve been making for dinner, but also holds its own with salted butter or as a healthy take on a grilled cheese. See if you can snap one of these up when they first come in! (Usually Wednesdays and Saturdays.)

 

House-Made

No list of local specialties would be complete without a mention of the incredible things we make in-house. All of Alice’s baked goods and pastries, Julie’s charcuterie, Eduardo’s homemade dinner each weeknight, a plethora of from-scratch deli salads and just-made sandwiches, and our seasonal Saturday BBQs begin and end right here at FK, and they feature New England ingredients like meats from PT Farm (North Haverill, NH) and Misty Knoll Farms (New Haven, VT) (both just a little over the 100-mile circuit) and local milk and cream from Thatcher Farm (Milton).

 

Eating local never tasted so good!

For more locally made treats, look for other staff favorites, including: Lakota Bakery cookies (Arlington), EH Chocolatier bonbons (Somerville), Effie’s Homemade crackers (Hyde Park), Kayak Cookies‘ Salty Oats Cookies (Hyannis), Somerville Chocolate bars (Somerville), Fastachi roasted and mixed nuts (Watertown), Iggy’s breads and croissants (Cambridge, MA), and breads from Clear Flour Bakery (Brookline) and Pain D’Avignon (Hyannis).

 

Leah Wang is still a farmer in Maine (in her heart and mind), but loves being a cheesemonger at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

The post Declare Your Love for Local appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/declare-your-love-for-local/feed/ 0
Extending an Olive Branch…to Oliveshttp://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/extending-an-olive-branch-to-olives/ http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/extending-an-olive-branch-to-olives/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:28:21 +0000 http://blog.formaggiokitchen.com/?p=10021 So many posts on our blog about olive oil – where’s the love for the olive itself? They’re not just a green-and-red ball resting on the side of your mind’s image of a martini. Olives – that is, the 10 percent of the world’s production that we eat as whole fruits – are absolutely delicious, Continue Reading »

The post Extending an Olive Branch…to Olives appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
Formaggio Kitchen House Olive Mista

Our house olive mista (with a few piparras peppers mixed in)

So many posts on our blog about olive oil – where’s the love for the olive itself?

They’re not just a green-and-red ball resting on the side of your mind’s image of a martini. Olives – that is, the 10 percent of the world’s production that we eat as whole fruits – are absolutely delicious, and can bring your tapas or dinner to a whole new level.

Olives are fruits that come from the hardy Olea europaea tree, one that can live and bear fruit for a thousand years! Native to the eastern Mediterranean, olives were likely first used (and of course, are still used) for their oil; as much as 30% of an olive’s pulpy outer layer is oil. As mentioned above, only ten percent of olives grown end up as edibles – the rest goes into our pantry staple, olive oil, according to my go-to food historian, Harold McGee. As I write this during Boston’s third snowstorm in two weeks, the word ‘harvest’ does not seem like a relevant concept – but across the pond, this year’s harvest of olives (which happens in late fall and winter) is being pressed into the freshest, unfiltered oil. Yum.

Anyway. Have you ever tasted a fresh olive, right from the tree? Probably not. Olives taste extremely unpalatable this way, containing an abundance of the bitter substance oleuropein. Like other fruits, olives are first green, and eventually change to a dark purplish color, losing some of their bitterness as they ripen. The olives we eat can be anywhere on the spectrum from green to purple to black, and all of them, no matter the ripeness, go through some sort of soaking process to leach out the bitter compounds and make them tasty. Historically, several changes of water was a slow but successful method; however, commercially today, olives can take a bath in a simple brine, get packed in salt and then olive oil, or get dunked in an alkaline lye solution before brining. A wrinkly olive indicates that it was salt-cured, and therefore definitely delicious. (Thanks to Serious Eats for this crash course in olive curing.)

Italian Olive Tree

Olives growing on a tree in the Chianti region of Italy

To pit, or not to pit?

Occasionally we stock pitted olives (olives without their large pits or central seeds), but for the most part we carry unpitted olives. Pitted olives can be more convenient, but there is some controversy over the preparation of olives for the pitting process itself. Most gourmands consider the unpitted olive to offer a purer, more nuanced olive flavor. If you don’t have a special olive pitter, you can use a large chef’s knife to press down on an olive and push out the pit, or just remove them as you eat them.

At the Cambridge shop we always have several varieties of olives on hand for your next appetizer spread or recipe, ranging in flavor and texture. We also make a fresh batch of our house ‘olive mista’ containing several of these varieties and more, plus piparras (Basque pickled peppers) and other aromatics for a convenient and aesthetic snack. Here’s a rundown of the types of olives you’ll find at the cheese counter:

 Alfonso. These purple giants have a medium-firm texture and a lot of meat. Cured in red wine and red wine vinegar, Alfonsos will have a touch of sourness. We usually have these on hand for our house olive mista.

Cassee de Baux. An origin-controlled olive from Provence in the south of France, these muted green beauties are cured with fennel seeds, stalks, and flowers for a prominent flavor.

Castelvetrano. Easily the cheesemongers’ favorite olive. This eye-catching bright green Italian olive is crunchy and not too tart. A great starter olive!

Kalamata. The famous deep-purple Greek olive packs an outstanding, wine-y flavor in a small package. We get these superior kalamatas from My Olive Tree, a small company that also makes award-winning olive oil in southern Greece.

Ligurian. Also known as Taggiasca olives, these are delicate purplish-brown snacks are cultivated in the northwest of Italy. Known for a fruity but mild flavor, they can add complexity to your next bread, pasta sauce, or vegetable dish. A staple of our olive mista, but ask your cheesemonger if you’d like to take some on their own.

Lucques.  These are lovely lime-green olives with a slight crescent shape. Like castelvetranos, they have a bright and crunchy flavor, but with a touch more butteriness.

Nicoise. These olives must come from Nice, France as specified by their AOC, or origin-controlled, designation. Small, brownish-black olives have a delicate texture and flavor, perfect for appetizers. Find these both in our cheese case and in our house olive mista.

Picholines. Rich and buttery, oblong pale green olives originating in the south of France. Try these as a snack for their smoother texture and nutty flavor.

Oil-cured Provencal. In Provence in the south of France, olives and olive oil are a serious subject. These classic wrinkly olives give way to juicy, flavorful flesh that pairs well with chicken and fish.

Red Bella di Cerignola. At the supermarket olive bar, cerignola olives are the BIG ones. These giant red beauties are superbly meaty with a firm texture. Not too salty or winey, you’ll find these in our olive mista.

Lou Pistou. This mix gives you French green and purple olives, cornichons, and pearl onions all in one. Even if you don’t see it in the case, ask if we have any on hand.


Before you reach for a bag of potato chips, try a juicy, fruity, briney olive to satisfy your snacking craving! If you have never featured them on a cheese or charcuterie plate, you may realize how their flavors and textures pleasantly cut through the decadent savory and fatty hors d’oeuvres. Or simply chop them up and add them to anything you’re cooking for a new layer of flavor. (Same goes for capers!) We will always love and cherish our olive oils, but the original source of those bright, rich flavors come from olives, our new favorite snack.

Leah Wang is still a farmer in Maine (in her heart and mind), but loves being a cheesemonger at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

The post Extending an Olive Branch…to Olives appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/extending-an-olive-branch-to-olives/feed/ 1
Chocolat Durand: Classic French Truffles by the Numbershttp://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/chocolat-durand-classic-french-truffles-by-the-numbers/ http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/chocolat-durand-classic-french-truffles-by-the-numbers/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 14:10:32 +0000 http://blog.formaggiokitchen.com/?p=9978 Only a few times a year do we get these exceptional, thin and richly flavored truffles from Brigitte Roussel in France's Brittany region.

The post Chocolat Durand: Classic French Truffles by the Numbers appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
Chocolat Durand 2015 Packaging

Chocolat Durand’s Coffret Bretagne and Formaggio Kitchen’s Choice 16-piece and 32-piece assortments. Packaging varies between shipments, but Valentine’s Day usually sees red ribbon!

A familiar name to many French chocolate lovers, Durand has been renowned for their delicate truffles since the 1980s, when this little patisserie began infusing their chocolates with herbs and spices for the 1987 Christmas season. A few years later, Formaggio Kitchen owners (and husband and wife) Ihsan and Valerie discovered these chocolates on a trip to Provence, and we’ve been smitten ever since.

Roughly four times a year (for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Mother’s Day) we receive a shipment of 16- and 32-piece boxes of Durand truffles. Phenomenally thin and delicate, these truffles are often snapped up fast by those who know to look for them (including a few staff members!). They make great gifts for the chocolate lovers in your life, and we think they taste sweetest shared.

Alas, as with all love stories, this one has had it’s ups and down. In fact, there have always been two Durands — Joël Durand and his wife Brigitte Roussel. Together they pioneered the infusions that make these truffles what they are, but unlike our love of Durand chocolates, the love between the Durands did not last. After their divorce they agreed to share the family name, with a twist: Joël maintained the tradition of labeling his creations with letters of the alphabet, while Brigitte got the numbers.

Today we source les chocolats numérotés from Maître Chocolatier Brigitte Roussel, based in her native Brittany. Our boxes feature a unique selection of Ihsan and Valerie’s hand-selected favorites from Brigitte’s many varieties of 64% cacao chocolate confections. We’re excited to also offer Brigitte’s unique Brittany Box (Coffrets Bretagne), which features 16 flavors classic to the culinary history of Brittany: fleur de sel, buckwheat honey and saffron, Brittany algae, wild anise of the seaside, coffee and lambic, East Indian spices, hazelnut and crushed Brittany crêpe, and salted butter caramel.

Each box includes a flavor guide, to help you identify the contents of each numbered tile. Our favorite way to savor these boxes is with friends, family or a special someone, taking turns with either the box or the guide, blind-tasting a chocolate and guessing the flavors infused!

Formaggio Kitchen Chocolats Durand 16-piece Assortment:

Palet d’Or (dark chocolate truffle topped with edible gold leaf); orange; Earl Grey; pistachio; lavender; absinthe; caramel; vanilla; almond praline; pepper; raspberry; rosemary; basil lemon; Guyana (milk chocolate, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon zest); Yucatan (dark chocolate, piment d’Espelette, Corsican honey); and a single origin dark chocolate

Brigitte Roussel’s 32 Flavors:
Palet d’Or (dark chocolate truffle topped with edible gold leaf); orange; black coffee; milk coffee; Earl Grey; cinnamon; jasmine; pistachio; fresh mint; lavender; Guyana (milk chocolate, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon zest); licorice; absinthe; caramel; Lebanon (dark chocolate, cardamom, coffee); vanilla; hazelnut praline; dill; Yucatan (dark chocolate, piment d’Espelette, Corsican honey); thyme; Irish Coffee; clove and lemon; pepper; raspberry; elderflower blossom; basil and lemon; Vietnam (dark chocolate, fresh ginger and citronella); Madagascar (single origin Madagascar dark chocolate with cacao nibs); verbena; and Tonka nut.

Rob Campbell is a culinary adventurer, world traveler, science geek, and also the blog manager at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

The post Chocolat Durand: Classic French Truffles by the Numbers appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/chocolat-durand-classic-french-truffles-by-the-numbers/feed/ 1
The Love Story of Saint-Amour Cote de Bessethttp://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/the-love-story-of-saint-amour-cote-de-besset/ http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/the-love-story-of-saint-amour-cote-de-besset/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 14:12:00 +0000 http://blog.formaggiokitchen.com/?p=9970 With the approach of the holiday dedicated to love and lovers, this wine from the northernmost Beaujolais Cru, Saint-Amour, gets all the attention it deserves!

The post The Love Story of Saint-Amour Cote de Besset appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
Saint-Amour Cote de Besset

Château des Rontets Saint-Amour Côte de Besset, from Fabio Montrasi and Claire Gazeau.

As the holiday dedicated to love and lovers approaches, Saint-Amour, the northernmost Beaujolais Cru, attracts some attention that it perhaps does not receive at other times of year, for obvious reasons; however, Château des Rontets Saint-Amour Côte de Besset is a bit of a love story in its own right.

In 1995, Fabio Montrasi and Claire Gazeau left architectural careers and city lives to take over the Château des Rontets, which had been in the Gazeau-Varambon family since the 1850s. Most of the parcels of their vineyards fall within the appellation of Pouilly-Fuisse; only two tiny parcels – totalling one half hectare – fall within the village of Saint-Amour.

With the vineyard rising high on an Eastern facing hill, Fabio and Claire follow the traditional practice of gobelet, or weaving the vines into basket shapes. This allows the branches to grow to a fuller extent, while still permitting air, sunshine, and water to move freely among the grapes and leaves, which ultimately gives the grapes more time to ripen on the vines.

Once harvested, Fabio and Claire follow a strict practice of carbonic maceration. Whole clusters of grapes – stems and all – are carefully placed into tanks containing carbon dioxide and left alone for two to four weeks, as fermentation occurs almost exclusively within each individual grape. Fabio and Claire finally press the wine from the grapes when it has reached a state of mortification – when the color of the skin has passed into the pulp of the grape. Pressing at this point intends to make a wine rich in color and soft in tannins. Once pressed, the wine completes alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in large barrels and is bottled at the beginning of summer without any intervention of fining or filtration.

Every sip of the wine is a taste of the love that goes into its creation. Slightly herbaceous and sagey on the nose; silky peaches-and-cream on the palate – hinting at a sweetness that is belied by a finish of perfect acidity.

Marianne Staniunas is a cheesemonger and a member of the Wine Department at Formaggio Kitchen South End, Boston.

The post The Love Story of Saint-Amour Cote de Besset appeared first on Formaggio Kitchen.

]]>
http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/blog/the-love-story-of-saint-amour-cote-de-besset/feed/ 0