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Asti Spumante and Panettone

Asti Spumante and Panettone – A perfect pair!

Why does food and wine matching seem so difficult, so fraught with opportunity to miss the mark? It’s simple really: we insist on reinventing the wheel, overlooking time-tested pairings that are always spot-on in favor of hit-or-miss improvisations.

High on the list of time-tested culinary hook-ups is the sensational combination of the Italian sweet bread panettone with the subtly sugary, frothy sip known as Asti Spumante. Like many dining room dream teams the two grew up together, in this case in the north of Italy where panettone is the traditional Christmas and New Year treat and Asti Spumante its perennial accompaniment. Together they’re a holiday party waiting to happen–as easy and pleasing a dessert course as you’ve ever served.

Our Cambridge shop is piled high with Paticceria Perbellini‘s exceptional panettone right now, with several kinds choose from – but we’re offering only one Asti Spumante: the most delicious we know!

Torelli “Di Michela” Asti Spumante is available at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge, or for pick-up at Formaggio Kitchen South End with one day’s notice.

 

Stephen Meuse is a Wine Buyer at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

holiday_wine_picks_2014

Our wine buyers’ top picks for the holidays! La Cigarrera Amontillado VOR, 2012 Domaine Comte Abbatucci “Cuvee Faustine” Rouge, 2005 CUNE “Contino” Rioja Reserva, and 1979 Kopke Colheita Port

The holiday season is upon us, and once again this year we’ve asked our wine buyers at both shops to recommend the wines they’re most excited about gifting this year. These are not every day wines, but rather special bottles that you will want to gift or sip with loved ones. If any of these wines strike your fancy let us know so we can set a bottle (or more) aside for you, as some of them are rare and available in very limited quantities.

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2014 Holiday Gift Guide!

Every year we look forward to the holidays and the excuse to share our favorite foods and kitchen accessories with friends and family. If you’re shopping for a food lover, tyrophile (cheese lover), budding chef, or seasoned culinarian this year, check out our list of top gift ideas that will please any palate! And if you’re giving in the greater Boston area, check out our “Locals Only” gift guide for special treats at our Cambridge shop!

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Montburgeau Cremant du Jura and winter cheeses

Montbourgeau Cremant du Jura with (from left to right), Preférés de nos Montagnes, Harbison, Comté Fort Sainte Antoine and chestnuts, white truffles, and Bosc pears.

As the seasons change and the pastures are coated in frost, we look forward to some of our most decadently delicious cheeses of the year. Grass-fed milk is often prized for it’s buttery, vibrant yellow-orange color and mouth-watering flavor. These qualities are most present in cow’s milk alpine styles, like Comté or Gruyère, where beta carotenoids from grass (the same compound that give’s carrots their color) provide that deep yellow color and diacetyls, produced in fermentation, give us that characteristic “grass-fed” flavor. Summer’s milk is lean and grassy, making it a perfect raw material for harder, longer-aged cheeses with longevity and elasticity (try bending a piece of Comté). However, for the lavish, richly-textured, scoopable delights of the holiday season there is no substitute for winter’s milk. When the cow’s move off pasture and temperatures drop, their diet shifts to primarily hay and grain, and they produce less milk at each milking. As a result, the milk is much richer and sweeter and significantly higher in fat, protein, and lactose. This milk is ideally suited to making those soft-ripened cheeses that pair perfectly with a holiday meal, the globular palate-coating beauties that sink in to every nook and cranny of a crusty baguette.

These kind of winter-milk cheeses pair perfectly with the Montbourgeau Crémant du Jura, one of our favorite sparkling wines for tyrophiles (cheese-lovers).

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Olof Viktors products

Products from Swedish bakery Olof Viktors: knäckebröd, pepparkakor and jam

For most people, the word “smörgåsbord” might evoke images of Vikings, or maybe the antics of The Muppets’ Swedish Chef, but for me it immediately brings up memories of my childhood, and an annual, extra-special weekend with my grandparents in the lead up to Christmas.

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This drink is the healthiest thing, and the greatest sustenance of anything you could drink in the world, because he who drinks a cup of this liquid, no matter how far he walks, can go a whole day without eating anything else.”

The “Anonymous Conqueror,” 1556, referring to drinking cacao

Italian chocolate machine

A peek inside our Italian drinking chocolate machine

Sure, a packet of Swiss Miss with tiny marshmallows waiting to be rehydrated is a comforting, nostalgic beverage for many of us; however, there are some fantastic things happening in the world of craft chocolate, with higher quality beans, small batch processing and real attention to craftsmanship. Whether or not you’ve tried a craft chocolate bar, you may still be denying your taste buds the same fine chocolate in liquid form. Enter drinking chocolate, one of the most decadent things you’ll have this winter. It may not hold you for a whole day, as claimed by the man quoted above, but it will certainly take the chill off these long winter nights.

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Pu'er Teas

Pu’er teas: Silk Road Teas Imperial Leaf tea bags, Silk Road Teas Dark River (Lin Cang) Pu-erh, and Tranquil Tuesday’s Ancient Tree Raw Pu’er

The holidays bring us an endless array of feasts for the senses, but if you’re like me, all these seasonal specialties leave you feeling that your eyes were much bigger than your stomach (even after your stomach has stretched beyond its normal proportions). There are plenty of culinary options for soothing your stomach at the end of a luxurious meal – from dessert wines and herbal digestifs to an espresso or a mug of mint tea – but for me, this season is the perfect excuse to break out one of my most treasured beverages: 普洱茶 (pu’er tea).

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