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Cabot Clothbound Cheddar

Cabot Clothbound Cheddar (note the batch date at right)

Every two months or so, Tripp, our domestic cheese buyer in Cambridge, and I, domestic cheese buyer for our South End location, drive up to Greensboro, Vermont and visit with our friends at the Cellars at Jasper Hill. The purpose of these trips is primarily to select new wheels of Cabot Clothbound Cheddar.

Artisan cheeses, like Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, tend to differ slightly from one batch to another – even wheels made one day apart and aged under the same conditions, can be surprisingly different. These variations can be attributed to the season, to changes in the weather and to what the cows might have munched on the day they were milked. I like to think of it as a sort of time capsule, a way of capturing a moment of the farm’s existence in time. (more…)

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I recently visited Barrington Coffee at their roastery in Lee, MA, in the heart of the Berkshires. Roastmaster Brian Heck, along with fellow coffee alchemist Paul, guided me through Barrington’s process of coaxing the delicate aromas and fine flavors out of their unroasted, green coffee beans. It takes an artisan’s practiced touch, a connoisseur’s critical taste, and a farmer’s dedication to his crop to create the consistently outstanding coffees Barrington is known for.

Green coffee beans starting to roast

Brian began by guiding me through the roasting process, from bag to finished bean. Barrington Coffee has three roasters, the largest handling up to 60 lbs. and the smallest able to roast as little as 1/4 lb. at a time. When I visited, Brian and Paul were manning all three roasters, producing select origin as well as blended coffees. (more…)

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Spring Brook Farm Cheeses - Reading and Tarentaise

Spring Brook Farm Cheeses – Reading (L) and Tarentaise (R – progressing in age from the youngest, to the Reserve)

At the end of March, Jeremy Stephenson, head cheesemaker at Spring Brook Farm in Vermont, visited our Cambridge shop. He led a staff tasting on the Friday evening, sampled out to customers on Saturday and, along with several other amazing domestic cheese and beer producers, taught a class that afternoon. It was a busy weekend! (more…)

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Stan Biasini and Brad at Mt. Mansfield Creamery

L-R: Stan Biasini and Brad

I recently had the great fortune to visit with Stan Biasini and his family at Mt. Mansfield Creamery in Morristown, Vermont. I arrived bright and early, just as Stan was pooling the milk from the morning milking into a heating vat to begin making his cheese: Inspiration. Here at the shop, we only began carrying Inspiration this year – it is a washed-rind cow milk cheese based on a Corsican recipe and has quickly become a staff favorite. (more…)

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Julie’s freshly linked Italian sauasges.

I first joined Formaggio Kitchen as an assistant to Julie, our charcutière. As she taught me to make the shop’s range of sausages, pâté, and other cured meats, she talked a lot about sourcing—what she buys from farms in Connecticut, the turnaround time needed for an order of rabbit from Vermont, the best uses for bellies from Massachusetts-raised Berkshire hogs, and the like. For Julie, small, local farms are a natural and non-negotiable part of her work. (more…)

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Slices of Mangalitsa and Red Wattle HamsWe keep an impressive pile of cured pork legs in the shop. The Italian prosciutto and Spanish jamón are justifiably well-known. Also nestled in there, however, are two domestic treats that I advise you not to miss: Mangalitsa and Red Wattle hams. The latter is particularly American, hailing from a centuries-old tradition of pork curing in Surry County, Virginia.

We source our Mangalitsa and Red Wattle ham from Edwards of Virginia who, in turn, sources pastured, humanely-raised Mangalitsa and Red Wattle pigs from small farms in North Carolina and Iowa, respectively. These heritage breeds are prized for their well-marbled, toothsome, flavorful meat, not to mention a wickedly decadent abundance of fat. Mangalitsas resemble a cross between a sheep and a pig – they’re sometimes called “wooly pigs,” for good reason – and they’re related to the wild boar. Like their boar brethren, Mangalitsa meat is lightly gamey, with a sweet, nutty, intense flavor. (more…)

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The Lost Abbey - Inferno Ale - LabelFounded in 2006, Port Brewing is a young company. However, in the few years since opening business, they have established an impressive reputation.

Founder, Tomme Arthur, is from San Diego and is particularly known for his Belgian-style beers. Arthur got hooked on beer in college – and not just in the usual kind of way. His roommate and his roommate’s father had traveled in Europe (including Belgium) and, in turn, they introduced him to a whole world of different beer styles and traditions. Subsequently, he became so enamored with the beverage and the world of brewing that in 1996, at the age of 23, he took a job at a start-up San Diego brewery. That brewery quickly folded due to poor management but, by his own account, Arthur was exposed to some pretty tasty beer-making in the process. It was only several years later that he opened up a brewery of his own and, eventually, he took over a brewing facility from Stone Brewing Company in San Marcos, CA. This is the company’s current base of operations and where Arthur began making both American ales and the Belgian-inspired Lost Abbey beers. (more…)

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