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Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

Giovanna Tiezzi of Pacina (left) + Gemma

With Giovanna Tiezzi of Pacina

As Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge’s wine buyer, the long-awaited arrival of spring means traveling to Verona for Italy’s most significant wine expo, VinItaly. The enormity and intensity of the show are both invigorating and challenging as it offers an expansive view of Italy’s wine scene, not only with thousands of indigenous grape varietals, but also with a genuine diversity of both terroirs and winemaking styles. Feeling overwhelmed is unavoidable. (more…)

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Millesime BioDuring a short stint from January 23rd to 25th, I had the opportunity to once again attend Millésime Bio, an annual organic wine exposition in Montpellier, France. It not only proved to be an exciting and challenging experience with my struggling French but offered me a closer view into the diverse world of wine. A wide range of regions, traditions, styles and levels of quality were represented at the show. My goal this year was to further develop an appreciation for these differences and find language to capture them for my colleagues and our customers. For example, organic, biodynamic, and even no-sulfur added wines can be made quite conventionally through machine harvesting and high yields, with poor terroir, additives and invasive cellar techniques. For me, it is an ongoing effort to understand and be able to explain the differences between industrial, conventional, artisanal, natural, and heirloom even within the categories of organic, biodynamic and no-sulfur added wine. It takes tasting, re-tasting, traveling, and speaking directly with producers to be able to speak to these qualitative differences and really comprehend who is doing the work to make great wines. With this mission in mind, I reconnected with many of my favorite growers – and discovered new ones too. Here are some of the highlights! (more…)

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Burro 1889 from Le Fattorie FiandinoItalian cuisine is often associated with Mediterranean ingredients like olive oil. However, if you travel along the country’s northern borders, you will find many locals producing and regularly cooking with butter. Generally speaking, butter gets its flavor from the quality of milk used to make it, and its texture from the techniques used to manipulate that milk into the final product. (more…)

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Marco Giacosa Tagliolini con Tartufo

Tagliolini con Tartufo

Shortly before Christmas, a display went up in front of our wine section: stacks and stacks of beautiful boxes of egg pasta. Brand new to the shop, the pasta was made by a gentleman named Marco Giacosa in Alba, a town in the northwest of Italy. (more…)

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Storefront of Pietro Romanengo in Genova

In the list of wonderful, accidental finds we have made for the shop, few rival the discovery of Italian confectioners, Pietro Romanengo fu Stefano. On a trip to northern Italy, Ihsan and Valerie were strolling the labyrinthine streets of old Genova when they stumbled across a fantastical, gem-like little shop.

Romanengo Candied Tangerine

Candied Tangerine

Since 1780, the Romanengo family has been dispensing handmade candies from this beautiful shop with its marble walls, glass shelves and rich wooden cases. Crystal receptacles are filled with confetti-colored candied fennel seeds, threads of sugar-coated cinnamon, sweet fruit fondants, chewy rosewater marshmallows and tiny pastiglie. On his first visit, Ihsan bought some treats to take home and each parcel was painstaking wrapped in dark blue tissue-like paper and tied with a Genovese sailors knot. Since that trip, we have been importing directly from Romanengo and several staff members have made the pilgrimage to Genova themselves! (more…)

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Pasticceria Perbellini PanettoneEvery year, we eagerly anticipate the arrival of panettone from Pasticceria Perbellini. And, every year, we order as much as we can, filling the shop to the brim! Piled high on our shelves, chock-a-block with torrone and candied fruits, staff members are thrilled to see these delicious Italian breads again. Panettone is fantastic with a steaming cup of hot coffee or a freshly pulled shot of espresso. Gemma, expert wine buyer in our Cambridge shop, recommends panettone with a glass of Vin Santo or the classic pairing of Moscato d’Asti.

What is Panettone?

Panettone is a traditional Milanese holiday bread. Traditional (and we think the best) panettone are yeasted breads that are allowed to ferment for a lengthy period of time. (more…)

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Prosciutto Pio TosiniSome months ago, Giovanni Bianchi of the prosciutto curing house, Pio Tosini, visited our shop in Cambridge for a staff tasting. Giovanni’s family has been curing prosciutto in the Parma region of Italy since 1905 and today, Giovanni, along with one of his cousins and an uncle, continue the family business.

Formaggio Kitchen Staff Pio Tosini Prosciutto Tasting

Giovanni Leads a Pio Tosini Prosciutto Tasting with Staff

The tasting had one of the strongest turnouts ever from among staff members – it was the first time we had had someone from one of our prosciutto curing houses visit the shop and everyone was curious and excited. The evening was fascinating and involved some delicious prosciutto tasting, a good amount of talking and lots of questions! At the end of the evening, Giovanni was kind enough to encourage staff members who might be visiting Italy to get in touch and he would be happy to show us around the Pio Tosini facility. Recently, I was fortunate enough to be traveling in the area and took him up on his generous offer. (more…)

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Old and Young Parmigiano Reggiano

On a recent trip to Italy, I had the opportunity to visit a co-op that makes Parmigiano Reggiano. It was a first for me – I have witnessed the cheesemaking process before and have even tried my hand at making chèvre but I had never before observed the making of a hard, aged cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano. (more…)

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Mario Zanusso

The man behind the wine: Mario Zanusso

Just in time for Thanksgiving, we will have two I Clivi wines made from Friuli’s star varietal, Ribolla Gialla. One bottle is a still white wine and the other is a spumante sparkling wine – both zippy and refreshing. This is the first arrival of these wines in the Massachusetts market and both will be available exclusively at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge and Formaggio Kitchen South End.

If you’re looking for a dry, refreshing, organic and affordable white to drink every day, pick up a couple of bottles of the 2010 Ribolla Gialla! The still Ribolla has a fresh, citrusy mouth feel with plenty of minerality and is low in alcohol, which is important in order to highlight the fine aromas that shine in this wine. (more…)

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Bra, Italy - Respect the City of CheeseEvery two years, the biggest festival in the cheese world happens in Bra, Italy. The event is known simply as “Cheese.” Cheesemakers, cheesemongers, journalists, food lovers and folks lucky enough to live close by, descend on the small town of Bra to sample, sell and eat literally tons of cheese. This year at the biennial festival it was no different. With one exception. The thermometer hit a whopping 90°F. (more…)

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