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Archive for the ‘Italy’ 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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Lisbona Tomatis Cookies

We have been importing Lisbona Tomatis cookies from Italy for 15+ years. Many of our customers know them well – a sweet-savory-secret in our bakery section. However, we worry that tucked on the shelves as they are, new customers may be missing out on this delicious taste of Piedmont. As a result, we wanted to share a little about how we came to import these cookies and what makes them special. (more…)

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Vecchia Dispensa Balsamic Vinegars

Vinegars from La Vecchia Dispensa

As I mentioned in my prior post, Balsamico Tradizionale offers the best chance to taste some of the purest expression of true balsamic vinegar. One of the reasons for this is the thoughtful regulations governing the production of Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena and Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia, which dictate a range of protections – from the grapes varieties that must be used, to the style of bottle.

Once you move beyond the world of Balsamico Tradizionale into the less controlled world of non-tradizionale balsamics, things get more complicated. Historically, the category of balsamic, balsamico or balsamic vinegar consisted of products with levels of quality all over the map. Some careful producers, employing traditional methods, produced balsamics with beautiful balance and depth of flavor. At the same time, large, industrial producers sold balsamics using inexpensive ingredients and time-saving technologies to maximize profits, capitalizing on the balsamic name. (more…)

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Battery of Barrels used to age balsamicThere are many forms of balsamic vinegar on supermarket shelves these days. The most industrial forms can be made anywhere with a variety of ingredients that may or may not contain concentrated grape must, wine vinegar, sugar and caramel coloring. For this reason, it is often difficult to grasp the differences between a $10 bottle of balsamic vinegar and a $40 bottle of balsamic or even a $150 bottle. (more…)

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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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