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Archive for the ‘France’ Category

Millésime BioThis year marks the twentieth anniversary of Millésime Bio which has arguably become France’s most compelling organic wine exposition. As in previous years, it once again convened in Languedoc’s Montpellier and I had the opportunity to experience the show for the fourth consecutive year. For me, it’s a pause from the retail side of wine buying – a chance to revisit the producer/supplier side of the job. As usual, it involved the intersection of cultural, linguistic, visual, and visceral stimuli that allowed me to hone and redefine my palate as a taster.  I discovered a few producers whose wines that I had never tasted, and gained further insight into some of the producers that we currently support. Below are some of the highlights that I hope will trickle into our selection soon! (more…)

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Ihsan and Valerie visiting Brigitte of Lo Brusc

On an early visit to Lo Brusc (L-R): Brigitte, Sarah (Formaggio employee), Valerie and Ihsan

In the early 90s, Ihsan and Valerie were invited by one of our customers to stay at a lovely château in Provence while on a food sourcing trip. Located near the town of Abt, about halfway between Toulouse and the Atlantic Ocean, the surroundings were picturesque and, as Ihsan recalls, “breathtaking.” The villa served as a wonderful base from which to explore the region and led to some of Ihsan and Valerie’s earliest finds – ones that have stood the test of time – like Durand chocolates and miellerie: Lo Brusc. (more…)

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This week we’re highlighting one of our favorite French liqueurs, the inky black currant flavored Crème de Cassis de Dijon. These sweet little bottles of crème de cassis are made in Burgundy by Briottet, a company run by the Briottet family in the town of Dijon since 1836.

Briottet Crème de CassisBriottet makes their crème de cassis with only “Noir de Bourgogne” black currants. The word “crème” signifies that the liqueur is made from macerated, real fruit rather than flavorings and, the addition of the name Dijon means that the currants (“cassis”) used were grown only in the commune of Dijon. These currants are picked quickly at their peak ripeness and are immediately immersed in alcohol where they macerate for 3 months. Sugar is then added to balance out the tart flavor of the currants – it also makes the liqueur syrupy. Upon completion, crème de cassis has about the same alcohol content as port. (more…)

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Julie with cleaned Piment d'Espelette peppers

With cleaned Piment d’Espelette peppers

About this time last year, while traveling through the Pyrenees mountains, Valerie, Ihsan and I stopped for a few days to pay a visit to the small farm that produces one of our favorite products: Piment d’Espelette AOC. Piment d’Espelette (translation: peppers from Espelette) are bright red peppers grown in the town of Espelette and 9 surrounding communes. These peppers have a delicate, sweet-fruity flavor and a medium spiciness, a little milder than your average jalapeño. They’re most often sold dried, whole or pulverized into a flaky powder. (more…)

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Sainte-Maure Belgique

Sainte-Maure Belgique

There are a few things one learns pretty quickly as a cheesemonger. Among them are that brebis generally come from the Pyrenées and small-format goat cheeses are closely associated with the Loire Valley. Of course, there are exceptions but, as general rules, these guidelines have served me pretty well. (more…)

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Persillé de Tignes

It’s sad to say, but farmstead cheeses are disappearing in France. As the cheese buyer for Formaggio Kitchen, I do what I can to make sure this does not happen. This is why I feel compelled to highlight the last remaining producer of Persillé de Tignes and to share my love of this cheese. (more…)

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Farm sign at the Burgat's Alpage homeThe evening light was fading as we ascended the mountain up to the Burgats’ alpage home outside of Manigod. With every turn that the car made, the views got even more splendid. Darkening clouds provided a sense of atmosphere and the cool air was deliciously fresh. Pulling up to the Burgats’ farmhouse, the sun was just about to disappear and the warm, yellow glow from inside their home was a welcome sight. (more…)

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