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Honeys for Rosh Hashanah

Three different honeys to celebrate Rosh Hashanah

I always look forward to celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is a lovely time of year when the weather is just cooling off, fall produce is coming into season and my craving for my grandmother’s brisket is at its highest!

A traditional aspect of Rosh Hashana is enjoying fresh apple slices with honey. The sweetness of this treat represents our hopes for a sweet new year. Since becoming the honey buyer almost 7 years ago, I have taken this tradition a step further by bringing home a selection of my favorite single varietal honeys each year. This year I decided to focus on a selection composed of very distinct honeys with geographic, visual and textural diversity. If the hopes for my new year are proportional to how lovely these honeys are, then my year is looking bright!

 

Big Island Bees – Lehua Blossom

I am absolutely in love with honey from Hawaii. I find that the flavors are so unique and often have a distinctly tropical characteristic. A standout in the bunch is Lehua blossom honey, both for its silky texture and rich, delicate flavor. Lehua is a bright red blossom from an evergreen tree native to the islands of Hawaii. The honey derived from its nectar is thick and spreadable with a frosting-like texture. The flavor is delicate and sweet with strong undertones of lychee.

 

Smiley Honey – Chunk Tupelo Honeycomb

The Smiley Honey Apiary hails from Wewahitchka, Florida and Don Smiley always prided himself on producing some of the purest white tupelo honey in the world. He even went so far as to have it scientifically tested and found that his batch contains over 95% pure tupelo honey (a rarity in the honey world when your producer, the bees, have free range to fly wherever they please!). Don has since retired but his practices are being honored and it is still the most incredible tupelo honey I have ever had. This version includes a chunk of the honeycomb which provides a beautiful visual for tasting. The texture is silky and viscous and the flavor is bright, sweet and high-toned with notes of orange.

Smiley Apiaries Tupelo Honeycomb

Smiley Apiaries Tupelo Honeycomb

 

Floriano – Melata di Bosco

We were introduced to Turco Floriano many, many years ago when visiting cheese producers in Piedmont. Turco has hives all throughout the Italian Alps and collects beautiful single-varietal honey that varies from light and delicate to dark and funky. One of my favorite honey varietals of all is melata – a rare, primarily Italian varietal. A rough translation of “melata” in English is “sap honey.” Rather than collecting nectar from a flower, the bees are actually collecting tiny bits of sap residue left over from aphids eating the evergreen trees. The resulting honey is dark, rich and similar in flavor to molasses.

 

Julia Hallman wears many hats at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge – among them are cheesemonger, classroom instructor and honey buyer.
Pascal Pibaleau Rosé

Pascal Pibaleau Rosé

Close to the town of Tours in the heart of the Loire Valley, Domaine Pibaleau sits nestled between two of the region’s historic Châteaux: Azay-le-Rideau and Langeais. The 12 hectare Domaine Pibaleau has been family owned and operated since 1886. Here Chenin Blanc, Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Grolleau are grown on organically farmed sandy-clay soil near the banks of the river L’Indre. Domaine Pibaleau has organic certification, and they work according to biodynamic principles.

Pascal Pibaleau’s rosé is made from 100% old vine Grolleau. This uncommon varietal is named for the French word for crow, a name that describes its characteristic black color. Even in the brief time that the wine is exposed to the grape skin when making a rosé, Grolleau’s dark skins impart a striking, deep ruby hue. With juicy red fruit and racy acidity, this wine pairs perfectly with the soft-ripened goat cheeses traditionally produced in the Loire region. Try it with a young, tangy Valençay to bring out a cherry fruitiness in the wine, or choose a stronger, aged Couronne de Touraine for a more complex, fascinating pairing. We also love this rosé with a simple Galet du Cher or Selles sur Cher and a drizzle of strong chestnut or buckwheat honey. Herbaceous notes and a zesty, mineral backbone also make this wine a great companion for charcuterie and grilled chicken or pork.

Although it is quite dry, the Grolleau is a mouth-filling delight of texture. It’s supremely thirst quenching and excellent for these muggy, stormy September nights. Serve this lovely rosé well-chilled and if it’s not too rainy sip it on your back porch or in a lawn chair!

 

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

Roman Wood-Fired Oven

The Stamp Family Roman-style wood-fired oven

In my everlasting quest to make the perfect pizza, it’s always been about the dough.  I’ve made hundreds of pies, each time striving for the balance of good structure, depth of flavor, and workability.  The outcomes have ranged from revelatory to disastrous, but I’m assured—save a few singed eyebrows and flour-coated jeans—that no one has been harmed by the experimentation.  From cracker-thin, high-gluten crusts with a gratifying crunch to pillowy, pliable pies that rise and fall with the heat, the permutations of just a few simple ingredients are seemingly endless.

One thing is certain: the perfect pizza contains some combination of flour, water, yeast, and salt.  The fermentation of carbohydrates in flour is the primary means of flavor development in good dough.  Over time, enzymes help break down the flour’s starches, making simple sugars accessible to the yeast, which then converts the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.  While the CO2 provides leavening and structure, the alcohol—though most of it bakes off in the oven—provides flavor and aroma.  The more gradual the process of fermentation, the more slowly and completely the flour will release its natural sugars, which leads to a more flavorful and golden, caramelized crust.

High-quality flour is of the utmost importance.  Just as a cheesemaker seeks out milk with the greatest flavor potential, a pizza chef should select a flour or blend of flours, offering the promise of excellent flavor, structure, and workability.  Minimally processed flours that have not been bleached or bromated (a chemical treatment for preservation) will yield a more flavorful dough and will contain more natural yeasts and microbes. High-protein flour, also known as high-gluten flour, will help produce stiffer doughs while soft, low-protein flours will add suppleness and stretch-ability.

Personally, I like to make pizza that falls somewhere between the categories of Napoletana and Americana-style.  For me that means a thin crust pizza that is chewy, with an open structure and a blistered exterior.  I use a combination of Mulino Marino Tipo 00 Flour—a low-protein, cylinder milled flour that is fine and soft—and Buratto Flour—a higher gluten stone-ground flour, which contains some residual fiber and germ from the wheat.  A 50/50 split, as recommended by Fausto Marino, helps keeps the dough airy, soft and pliable while providing the structure and depth of a coarser, higher protein flour.  Although it may be against the DOC (Denominazione D’Origine Controllata) regulations for true Pizza Napoletana, I add a substantial amount of olive oil to my dough to add richness and to make the dough less sticky and more workable.  I am a great proponent of delayed-fermentation, the process by which cold temperatures will slow the process of CO2 production and lead to more complexity of flavor.  In a procedure similar to that of Pain å l’Ancienne—a  rustic, chewy peasant’s bread with a focaccia-like structure—I use ice-cold ingredients and immediately put the formed dough into refrigeration for a fermentation of 24 hours or up to four days.

Three Types of Pizza

Three buffalo mozzarella topped pizzas — Magherita (with tomato and basil), Veggie (with zucchini, beer braised chard, and caper berries), and Meat and Potatoes (with Surryano ham, potatoes, caramelized onions, and pickled jalapeño pepper)

I’ve adapted the following recipe from Peter Reinhart, a longtime instructor at Johnson and Wales University and author of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  The exact proportions of flour, water, and oil can and should be adjusted based on ambient temperature, humidity, mood, etc.:

Yields 6 12” Pizzas

2 ½ cups 00 Flour
2 ½ cups Buratto Flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
1/3 cup olive oil (optional)
Up to 2 cups ice water (about 40ºF) as needed
Cornmeal for dusting

1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl or a stand mixer. Slowly incorporate the cold water and oil with a metal spoon (if mixing by hand) or a dough hook.  Mix the dough at medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes until you’ve created a smooth dough that will clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom.  Add more flour or water as needed to achieve a springy dough that is sticky to the touch.

2. Transfer the dough to a generously floured surface and divide (using a moistened dough scraper or a knife) into six pieces, or more if you would like to make personal-sized pizzas. With floured hands, gently roll each piece into a ball between your hands, tucking your fingers under the ball to create surface tension, and place on a sheet pan with parchment and flour, with ample room to grow. Sprinkle the dough with flour and loosely cover with plastic.  These doughs can rest overnight or up to three days, and can be frozen at anytime for future use.

3. On the day you would like to bake the pizza, remove the balls of dough 2 hours prior to firing. When you take the doughs from the refrigerator, delicately padding them out into discs around 5 inches in diameter and sprinkling them with flour and a few drops of oil.  Cover loosely with plastic.

4. Preheat your oven (conventional or otherwise) to the highest temperature your appliance allows (generally 500ºF-550ºF, or 700ºF-800ºF in a wood/coal-burning oven). Preheat your baking stone at this time.

5. When dough has sufficiently relaxed (if too resilient and unworkable, let sit longer), gently stretch the dough to desired thinness using heavily floured hands. A rolling pin will collapse the structure and destroy many of the CO2 bubbles in the dough, so take care to stretch with your hands, but never to the point where the dough is transparent.  Transfer the stretched, untopped dough to a pizza peel or the back of a sheet pan generously dusted with semolina/cornmeal.  Top conservatively and always season with salt, pepper, and olive oil.

6. Cook your pizza to desired doneness on a brick shelf, pizza stone, or simply on the back of a sheet pan staying reticent of the extremely high temperatures. Rotate your pizza halfway, and look for a finished pizza to be charred on the edges with deep caramel color.  Let cool (or not) and enjoy.

 

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

Daphnis and Chloe Herbs: Bay Leaf, Oregano Taygetus, Thyme Blossoms, Greek Mountain Tea

Daphnis and Chloe Herbs:
Bay Leaf, Oregano Taygetus, Thyme Blossoms, Greek Mountain Tea

When I first became the spice buyer at Formaggio Kitchen I was so excited to delve deeper into the incredible, international world of spices. However, the more I traveled, learned and sampled, the more I realized that the spice industry is primarily made up of large producers more concerned with the bottom line than the quality of their product. It became a personal mission of mine to find small scale producers that match the quality-driven philosophy we hold so dear at Formaggio Kitchen. While it was difficult at first, I soon found equally passionate folks dedicated to producing spices of the highest quality. Slowly but surely our selection has transformed, with each little package of herb or spice now representing a regional culinary history and, more often than not, the unique and inspiring story of a passionate producer.

One such story is that of Daphnis and Chloe. Aptly named after a second century Greek love story, this small company introduces customers to Greece’s culinary history through their rare and unique varieties of indigenous herbs and spices. The Greek Archipelago provides natural isolation, allowing for different, ancient varieties of herbs and spices to develop unique characteristics particular to one island alone. Evangelia, the founder of Daphnis and Chloe, first captured my attention with some of the most remarkable oregano that I have ever tried. She found them by combing through the many different isles, working with foragers and organic cultivators to source the most extraordinary varieties.

Evangelia tells the store of Daphnis and Chloe best herself:

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Vinho Verde: Dom Diogo Padeiro from Quinta da Raza

Dom Diogo Padeiro from Quinta da Raza

Even though it’s designated as a “Vinho Verde”, the Dom Diogo Padeiro from Quinta da Raza is not green or even white – it’s pink!

The Minho province is home to the crisp, dry white Vinho Verde we love to sip in the summertime, but folks there also make pink and red wines from local grapes. Most Vinho Verde rosé is mass-produced, simple and refreshing but not all that interesting. Quinta da Raza is a small winery run by Jose Diogo Teixeria and his wife Mafalda. The winery has been in Jose’s family since the 1800s. The climate and soil in this area are unique in the Vinho Verde, as the soils are rich with granite and schist, and there is less rainfall and more sun than in other Vinho Verde sub-zones. Jose farms organically, growing his grapes for quality, and his wines are more complex than most Vinho Verdes. They are also also more expensive than most, but at $11.95 a bottle for the rosé and $9.95 for the white that’s not really saying much. There are two grapes commonly used in in Vinho Verde rosé but Jose uses just one: Padeiro. Padeiro is an early-ripening grape with a wonderful aroma of ripe, red cherries.

Like his white Vinho Verde, this rosé has a perky little effervescence. From the dark color you can tell that there’s a good amount of body to this wine. It’s not sweet, but it has a ripe fruitiness reminiscent of cherries, plums and berries. Despite a rich body the abundant acidity and fizz make for a clean, refreshing finish.

Sip this tasty rose on the last warm days of summer, preferably outdoors in the sunshine! It’s fine as an aperitif on its own, but makes a great food wine as well. The combination of fruit and acidity here makes the Jose’s rosé a great companion to classic American cook-out foods like grilled burgers and dogs, creamy potato salad and coleslaw.

Julie Cappellano is the General Manager and Wine Buyer at Formaggio Kitchen South End, Boston.

Dizzy feasts on buttercups

Dizzy feasts on buttercups

A cow named Dizzy munches on buttercups, a goat named Isabelle ruminates under the shade of an old oak tree; in Vermont, the rolling green pastures are shadowed only by the cheeses that its distinct flora promotes.

With all the marvelous European cheeses we carry, tasting through terroirs of France, Italy, Switzerland or Portugal can sometimes make it hard to remember that, here in New England, a slice of the Old World exists right on our doorstep. While Europeans are upholding some of the most important cheese traditions, Vermont’s cheese makers and affineurs (cheese agers) are bursting with creativity, blending European and American traditions with some truly extraordinary results.

Earlier this summer I awoke in a strange bed; the rattling in my head reminding me that I might have had one too many pints of beer the night before. I was at Consider Bardwell Farm, the first of several stops on a trip visiting the people and animals behind some of our favorite Vermont cheeses. My coworkers and I had been welcomed at the farm the previous evening with a feast spread by our gracious hosts and farmer friends. Now I scrambled to get dressed and greet the sun, which was just breaking through the clouds over the pasture.

Happy Goat at Consider Bardwell

Happy goat at Consider Bardwell Farm

The dairy was already bustling with activity before I crossed the fields to the milking room. The goats nudged each other trying to be first in line. The heifers ran to the stalls where suction would relieve their mammaries. Everyone was awake and brimming with energy. The farmers washed the equipment and prepared the udders for milking. The goats smiled, and seemed to laugh as they noshed on coveted treats, and gave their milk.

The milk traveled through sterile tubing into large vats in the dairy. The rennet was added and the process began. Each cheese has its own recipe, its own distinct needs to present itself best to our palates. While in the dairy, time, pH, and tactile impression shape the cheese before its curds are cut. Although most of the flavor in our favorite cheeses materializes in the caves, the structure of the final product depends upon the precision of the cheese maker.

Getting a Feel for the Dorset

Getting a feel for the Dorset

After a tour of Consider Bardwell’s controlled aging rooms, we drove to nearby Twig Farm to meet Michael Lee and his goats. The area was more wooded, and the land appeared to be mainly untouched. Michael greeted us at the end of the driveway and promptly gave a tour of the grounds. He introduced us to many of the 64 goats he cared for. Michael had names for each, distinguished by the goat’s markings and the color of its collar.

As we toured his land, and moved the fences to expand the pasturing area, Michael astounded us with his knowledge of the flora and the goats’ affinity for particular plants. He explained the nuances that particulars in diet bring to the flavor and structure of his famed tommes. In his cave he enjoyed watching the milk evolve. He embraced the micro cultures, molds, and yeasts that spawn delicious cheese. Twig Farm is small, Michael does the farming, cheese making and cave management himself with only an occasional helper. His devotion to the craft is recognized in each of his products.

Twig Farm Fuzzy Wheel

Twig Farm Fuzzy Wheel

From Twig Farm we traveled to Blue Ledge Farm, renowned for their Lake’s Edge and fresh chèvre. It was late in the afternoon when we arrived, and we had already missed the cheese maker. A young dog ran up to greet us near the barn. Hannah was right behind him. She took us down into their cave. There curds for chèvre drained in baskets along steel tables dripping with whey. In the next room, Lake’s edge rested covered in ash.

Next on my itinerary was Jasper Hill Farm, and the Cellars at Jasper Hill. In the pastures, on the way to the Cellars, we met Dizzy. She was munching on grass and wildflowers in a field just down the road from the barn. Jasper Hill’s cows spend much of the day ruminating in the gorgeous pastures on along the hills.

We passed the barn and dairy and continued up the road to the caves. This massive underground facility was unimposing, just a door into the hillside. Matteo opened the door and welcomed us into the cellars. Vince, our guide, and former Formaggio Kitchen monger, acquainted us with the many arms of the facility. One was devoted to raw milk bloomy rind cheeses, one to alpine style washed rinds, the largest arm was reserved for Cabot Clothbound Cheddar. The affineurs care for cheeses from a variety of neighboring dairies. Regular turning, washing, and tasting wheel after wheel is required by the cave managers to provide the best product possible.

Affineur washing Alpha Tolman

Affineur washing Alpha Tolman

After a fascinating visit at the Cellars at Jasper Hill we made our way to Cobb Hill. Cobb Hill is co-housing community who’s residents manage a vegetable farm and dairy, and create delightful cheese as well as frozen yogurt. We were given snacks of Ascutney Mountain, Cobb Hill’s signature alpine cheese and maple frozen yogurt; it was perfect on a hot summer afternoon.

I had one final stop. I was running out of time but needed still to visit Spring Brook Farm: Farms for City Kids. Here they are dedicated to educating children and impressing upon them the need for sustainability. With 100% Jersey cow’s milk the farmers create award winning cheeses like the Spring Brook Tarentaise. I was introduced to the copper kettle envied by many, and after visiting their cheese caves I took some time to wander the beautiful landscape, and pat a calf or two.

It was an incredible journey through the Vermont countryside; reflective of life ruled by the sun, the seasons, and a sincere commitment of neighbors to the highest standards of quality, community, and sustainability.

Future producer of Tarentaise

Future producer of Tarentaise

Nicole Roach is a keen kitchen experimenter and a member of the produce, register, and operations teams at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

The Sintra Coastline

The Sintra coastline

Like everything born of Sintra, the Arenae Colares Malvasia is of and from the sea.

I had the good fortune to spend several weeks last summer exploring Lisbon and its surrounding environs, including an unforgettable day in Sintra, guided by two friends of mine who grew up there.

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