Our top Thanksgiving cheese picks for 2014: Shelburne 2 Year Cheddar, Verano, Bayley Hazen Blue, and Sage Farm’s fresh goat cheese
One of our favorite ways to celebrate Thanksgiving is with a round up of some of New England’s best cheeses. While we love the fruits of Europe’s great cheese-making traditions, Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to reflect on and celebrate American cheese makers, and our country’s own tradition of beautiful cheeses of all milk types and textures. This year, our Cambridge store’s domestic cheese buyer Tripp, along with the rest of the cheese team, have brought together four of our favorite Vermont cheeses for a perfect addition to the holiday table!
Shelburne Farms 2 Year Cheddar
Founded in 1886 as a model agricultural estate, Shelburne Farms sits on the edge of Lake Champlain in Shelburne Vermont, just fifteen minutes south of Burlington. In addition to their successful dairy, vegetable, and sustainable forestry programs, Shelburne Farms also runs an nonprofit dedicated to conservation education, and in 2001 it was named a National Historic Landmark. Their Vermont farmhouse cheddar is made solely with raw milk from their herd of grass-fed Brown Swiss cows, and comes in a variety of ages. Our favorite is this two-year old cheddar, which has a delightful crumbly texture and turns creamy on the palate.
One of the the original New England artisan cheesemakers, David Major raises sheep with his wife and family in Westminster Vermont. They model their sheep’s milk cheeses after aged mountain cheeses of the Pyrénées, and Verano in particular has caught the attention of cheese lovers on both sides of the Atlantic. Verano, which means “summer” in Spanish, is made with their herd’s summer milk. The sheep’s summer diet of wild herbs and grasses gives their milk, and resulting cheese, extra herbaceous notes in it’s earthy sweetness. This cheese is wonderful with classic pairings, like the cherry jam from staff-favorite Boutique Arraya. It also pairs wonderfully with more seasonal tart treats like Wood’s Cider Jelly!
Bayley Hazen Blue
Recently crowned the “best unpasteurized cheese in the world” at the 2014 World Cheese Awards in England, Bayley Hazen Blue regularly features as another Formaggio Kitchen staff favorite. The creamy, crumbly texture of Bayley Hazen Blue is an immediate stand-out among blue-veined cheeses, with flavors of sweet grass and peppery spice. The Ayrshire cow’s milk provides a nutty, pleasantly farmy foundation for this complex cheese. Jasper Hill Farm in far north Greensboro Vermont makes phenomenal cheeses using milk from their small herd of Ayrshire cows. They also run an expansive, top-notch aging facility used by many of the state’s other producers including the much-loved Cabot Clothbound Cheddar.
Molly and Katie Pindell have been making cheese in Stowe Vermont since 2008. Together with their small herd of registered Alpine goats, they produce some of our favorite fresh goat cheeses made in Vermont. Styled after the French classic Valencay, Sterling is dusted with ash and aged for just two weeks, and it’s smooth texture yields a rich, tart flavor. Madonna is denser, but still creamy, with a brighter, lemony flavor that pairs beautifully with New England honey.
All four cheeses are available together online as part of our Thanksgiving Cheese Bundle, paired with Vermont’s own Castleton Crackers and Wood’s Cider Jelly.
For more Thanksgiving cheese ideas, check out our 2012 Thanksgiving Cheese Board, and our 2011 picks for celebrating America-the-melting-pot with international cheeses!
Posted in Cheese, Thanksgiving, United States | Tagged Alpine goats, American cheese, Ayrshire, Bayley Hazen Blue, Brown Swiss, Cellars at Jasper Hill, cheddar, Cheese, food, fresh goat cheese, Jasper Hill Farm, Sage Farm, sheep cheese, Shelburne Farms, Thanksgiving, Verano, Vermont Shepherd | Leave a Comment »
The Vallana Winery
The rolling Alpine foothills of the Alto-Piemonte (or Upper Piemonte) are not as well known or as frequently visited by wine-lovers as the Barolo and Barbaresco wine regions just to the south, but fascinating and delicious Nebbiolo-based wines are made here, too!
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Posted in Italy, Wine | Tagged 1960's vintage, Alto-Piemonte, Campi Raudii, food, Gattinara, Giuseppina Vallana, Italy, Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Piemonte, red wine, Vallana Wines, Wine | Leave a Comment »
Some of our favorite cideries right now: (left to right) Bantam, Far From The Tree, and Shacksbury
While I’ll never turn down a good glass of beer or wine, as the leaves start to fall I find myself reaching for cider more and more often. Thankfully, the days of just Woodchuck are over, as more and more craft cideries enter the field.
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Posted in United States | Tagged apple cider, apples, Bantam Cider, Basque cider, dry cider, Far From the Tree Cider, food, hard cider, Hereford, Massachusetts, Rind Cider, Rojo, saison, Shacksbury Cider, sparkling, The Lost Apple Project, Vermont | Leave a Comment »
After visiting Fromageries Marcel Petite in the fall of 2013, Team Formaggio traveled on to Switzerland. Ihsan and Valerie, owners of the Formaggio Kitchen family of shops, fellow cheesemongers Tripp and David (Tripp from Cambridge and David from Formaggio Kitchen South End), and myself journeyed to Raclette country in search of the best representations of this classic cheese - and we found it in Raclette de Verbier. Here are a few photos from our short but delicious stay! (please click on one of the photos to open the slideshow)
Clouds – The scenery in Switzerland was like nothing I had ever seen before. Here, clouds over Lake Geneva.
Cow – Raclette de Verbier is made from the milk of the fighting cow. She looks mean, doesn’t she?
My Girls – The fighting cows spar by bumping heads. They do this in order to choose their queen. She who wins is the most prized cow. Though the fights really do happen, the ladies never get hurt. They pull apart before any real damage is done.
My Girls #2 – These ladies are babies who were left at a lower altitude until they are ready to be milked next year. These little ones needed no head bumping – they chose me as queen!
The Line – The girls lined up to follow me as we left. They wear beautiful antique cow bells and the herdsmen are able to identify each cow based on her unique sound.
Raclette Culture – The milk from the grown cows, who were higher up in the mountains when we were visiting, is used to make Raclette. In Verbier, the culture of Raclette is immensely strong. Residents are very proud to be from an area that creates such a beautiful cheese.
Raclette Cave – At one restaurant, the chef has his own cave to age the cheeses he has selected to serve. Each chef has his or her own preferred wheels and special relationships that are cultivated to provide the best Raclette to their patrons.
Roger and his Cheese – This is Roger, the cheesemaker who, with his apprenticing son, makes the cheese we now sell. Roger’s cheesemaking is extremely precise and methodical. His caves are filled with wheels of Raclette of various ages. Though not to the scale of Marcel Petite’s Fort Saint Antoine, Roger’s pride in his caves and the beauty of his cheese is equally as striking.
Roger – Roger keeps a spotless cheese room and checks his milk daily for imperfections. He keeps a list of farmers whose milk tests impure in plain sight. When they arrive to drop off their milk, the farmers check there first to make sure they don’t appear on the list.
Tomme de Verbier – Roger makes a few small wheels of the beautiful tomme we are so lucky to receive.
Tomme de Verbier Being Served – While we discussed business and forged a new relationship, we tasted the tomme and drank a beautiful Fendant! Seeing Ihsan discuss cheese and what we do with a small-town cheesemaker was quite remarkable.
Cheesemonger David – Trying his hand at scraping Raclette.
The Verbier Group – Through friends of his, Monger Tripp was responsible for introducing us to Roger. Because of this, and because of Ihsan and Valerie’s humble approach to business, our visit was fruitful and we now sell a very special Swiss Raclette, exclusive to our shops in the US – the best Raclette I have ever tasted.
Meredith Rottersmann is the General Manager and Classroom Coordinator at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.
Posted in Cheese, Switzerland, Travelogues | Tagged Cheese, cows, fighting cows, food, Raclette, Raclette de Verbier, Switzerland, Tomme de Verbier | Leave a Comment »
Domaine de Vaccelli Cuvée Roger 2009
with Meadowood Farm Lamb Chops and Red Fire Farm Brussels Sprouts.
France’s Île de Beauté (Island of Beauty) lies one hundred miles south of France’s Côte-d’Azur and just over fifty miles west of Tuscany. This wildly majestic island enjoys some of the hottest, driest conditions in all of France (it holds the record for the most annual sunshine), and is where the Greeks first cultivated vines back in the 6th Century BCE. Despite this long history of production, it was not until the 1960s, when a horde of skilled wine-makers fled Algeria (the so-called French pieds noirs) for Corsica, that it became known for wines of quality of distinction.
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Posted in France, Producer Profile, Wine | Tagged Ajaccio, Alain Courrèges, Corsica, Domaine de Vaccelli, fall, food, Lamb Chops, Maquis, Meadowood Farms, red wine, Sciaccarellu, Wine | Leave a Comment »
Patric’s Dark Milk Bar – an example of craft chocolate’s dark side!
This post is part three of three of my interview with Carla D. Martin, “Professor of Chocolate” and Lecturer in the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Part one discussed the meaning of “craft chocolate” in North America, and part two questioned the idea of terroir and craft chocolate’s cost. Today’s post looks at North American craft chocolate’s dark side — so much of it is dark chocolate! What’s a milk chocolate lover to do?
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Posted in Chocolate | Tagged American chocolate, artisan chocolate, bean-to-bar chocolate, craft chocolate, dark chocolate, Dark Milk Bar, food, milk chocolate, Patric Chocolate | Leave a Comment »
Milking the goats at Big Picture Farm
Big Picture Farm has caught the attention of many a candy-eater, gift-giver, artisanal-food junkie and Tumblr user, and the farm’s award-winning goat’s milk caramels are fully deserving of hype and high praise. We proudly stock their precious packages in the bakery window, and hold onto their idyllic postcards behind the bakery to cheer us up. Behind their stunning pictures and doodles of goats, dogs, and garden harvests, however, is a working farm and growing business driven by passionate people.
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Posted in Candy & Confections, Producer Profile, United States | Tagged Big Picture Farm, food, goat milk caramel, goats' milk, sweets, Vermont | Leave a Comment »