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Archive for the ‘France’ Category

Fromageries Marcel Petite's Fort Saint Antoine

Fromageries Marcel Petite’s Fort Saint Antoine

What makes Comté so incredibly special? And, why is it a cheese I find myself drawn to time and again, lured in as if it had cast a spell on me? Of course, it’s one of France’s classic cow milk cheeses – a firm mountain cheese that was among the first to receive protected status. There are the requirements of the appellation that set it apart – Comté cheese must be made with milk from cows of the Montbéliarde (95%) and Simmental (5%) breeds. It must also be made within the regions of Doubs, Jura and Ain in France – and, the cow feed has to be from pastures within a 30km radius of the fruitière making it (a fruitière is a facility where milk from the community is pooled – generally this system exists in areas where large cheeses, like Comté, are made – Parmigiano Reggiano would be a similar example in Italy). (more…)

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Poilâne Pain au Levain

If you love good bread, chances are you will be familiar with the name Poilâne. We started working with Lionel Poilâne in the mid-90s, flying his bread in each week to supply a small, but growing group of customers who had developed a taste for his dense and flavorful bread while traveling abroad. Since the  “Ici Pain Poilâne” sign went up in our shop, the demand for this famed French bread has steadily increased. (more…)

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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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