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Salty Oats cookiesMy father has always said that if you make something well, people will go out of their way to get it. I suspect many folks would do just that for Terri Horn’s Salty Oats cookies. (more…)

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A newly-flowering coffee plant

A newly-flowering coffee plant

My journey into coffee began in high school, with a styrofoam cup and copious amounts of milk and sugar.

I would snag some each morning during my first-period study hall, usually from one of those brown-rimmed glass pots. The addiction became full-blown in college, and when I entered the world of work, like many, I continued to depend on my morning cup as a necessary comfort. (more…)

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We love cheese at Formaggio Kitchen, but we also love our beer.

You’ll catch a lot of us on the staff stopping by local beer tastings, seeking out new and hard-to-find bottles, and regularly checking out (and sampling) the rotating taps at our favorite Boston-area bars. A few of us also brew our own beer – recent undertakings have included a clone of Stone Ruination IPA, and a beer brewed with fresh cranberries that somehow ended up measuring a whopping 2% ABV (we lovingly call this one “Granny Cran”).

Whenever we can, we also visit breweries to see beer-making in action. It’s fascinating to see beer brewed on a large scale (though many of the craft breweries we like are still considered small players in a giant market), and it’s enlightening to talk to brewers about what goes in to making certain beers and why they taste the way they do. We’ve previously field-tripped it to Sixpoint, Ommegang and Brooklyn Brewery (see related post), all located in New York. Last month, I stopped by Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware, and last week, a group of us headed to Portland, Maine, to visit Allagash Brewing Company. (more…)

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Rancho Gordo Yellow Indian Woman Heirloom Beans

Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans

I have gained a new appreciation for the humble bean since we started carrying Rancho Gordo beans in our shops. Rancho Gordo beans have so much of their own flavor you hardly want to add anything else when you eat them.  Steve Sando began the Rancho Gordo company, based in Napa, with the goal of promoting native new world specialty foods, with a focus on beans. Steve reminds us native foods from the Americas are worthy of celebration. We’ve learned from Steve that the very Italian borlotti bean originated in Mexico and the ever-so-French flageolet actually has its roots in Colombia.

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Maple syrup samples

Early spring in Vermont is cold and muddy. It’s a time when the fields and forests are a muted brown and nothing is growing yet, but it is the time of year for one very important Vermont agricultural product: maple syrup. Maple syrup has a special place in my kitchen, as my family has deep roots in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The trees in the maple grove on my mother’s farm are ancient and massive. My great-grandmother made heavenly maple glazed doughnuts and maple custard pies, all from a yearly supply of syrup made within the space of just a few spring weeks. (more…)

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Brooklyn Brewery BeerI was never much of a beer drinker until I moved to England…  There, I gradually came to appreciate the taste of beer when I accompanied colleagues to the pub for a post-work pint or when I would meet friends for an evening out.  Still, I never bought beer and kept it in my fridge – it was just one of those things that I would occasionally have when I was out.  Brooklyn Brewery changed that. (more…)

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Jeni's Ice Cream

Jeni’s Ice Cream from Columbus, Ohio

In addition to my chocolate problem, I have a concerted weakness for ice cream.  I lamented the closure of Herrell’s in Harvard Square, a staple of my college days.  However, I now have reason to rejoice in the arrival of Jeni’s ice cream in our store.

Before it actually hit our shelves, Jeni’s sent several pints of their frozen magic which we opened up in the kitchen and which staff (liberally!) sampled.  As Liddabit’s chocolate bar, The Snacker, made me revisit and rethink my aversion to peanuts in my sweets, Jeni’s ice cream surprised me with the addictiveness of its non-chocolatey flavors.  Chocolate (or something with chocolate chunks in it) tends to be my go-to ice cream flavor.  With Jeni’s, however, it’s not quite so simple.  If there were a fairytale written about ice cream, or if Edmund had been seduced by ice cream instead of Turkish Delight in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or if Willy Wonka had made ice cream, I could easily imagine them using the flavors that Jeni’s has so imaginatively and deliciously concocted! (more…)

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Liddabit Sweets’ chocolate bar: The Snacker

So, I confess.  I am a bit of a chocoholic.  But really, it’s not my fault.  It can clearly be attributed to a genetic trait inherited from my father’s side of the family.

The most recent thing to feed my habit?  Liddabit chocolate bars.  Liddabit Sweets is based in Brooklyn, New York and was founded by two sweet loving ladies who met while studying the pastry arts at the French Culinary Institute.  Everything is handmade with top-notch ingredients such as unsweetened, organic peanut butter and sea salt.  As much as possible, their ingredients are organic and sourced locally.  For the P&B Mallow Candy Bar (butter cookie, crunchy peanut butter and marshmallow), both the cookie and the marshmallows are made by the Liddabit team. (more…)

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For cheesemongers, spring not only means longer days and warm weather, but also the start of a new season of cheesemaking. Some of the first spring-milk cheeses we see are from goat farms, which have been welcoming flocks of baby goats over the past couple of months.

Kids at Consider Bardwell

After giving their milk to their new, absurdly cute babies for a couple of weeks, the does will be able to give their milk to cheesemakers such as Michael Lee of Twig Farm in Vermont. From his herd of about 40 goats, Lee began making this year’s cheeses a few weeks ago — after proper ripening, we’ll probably see these new wheels (perennial favorites at Formaggio Kitchen) sometime in June.

Last week, a couple of us mongers went up to visit another local goat farm, Consider Bardwell in Pawlet, Vermont, where on an amazing spring afternoon we saw the herd of ladies-in-waiting — about 40 does who were due to give birth in the next day or so. The photo above shows two kids who were born the morning we arrived.

The cheesemakers at Consider Bardwell will also start using the new milk to make cheeses such as Manchester, an aged goat cheese that we like for its fresh, floral flavors and firmer texture. It’s the perfect match for a crisp white wine from the Loire Valley, or even a dry rosé.

Manchester cheese from Consider Bardwell

Here’s to spring!

For more on our trip to Consider Bardwell Farm, check out our travelogue.

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One of my favorite deliveries happens on Fridays, when Michael from Carlisle Farmstead Cheese drops off a few rounds of goat cheese made by his wife Tricia, along with a few cases of Carlisle Honey, collected by beekeeper Ed Erny.

Michael and Tricia keep about 10 goats on their property and make several lovely cheeses — all named after their goats — in their state-of-the-art cheese room. Most, like Meg’s Big Sunshine, are fresh and tangy with a white, bloomy rind. My personal favorite, Greta’s Fairhaven, is made of raw goat’s milk and aged a bit longer for a denser texture and an earthier flavor.

Across town, Ed keeps about five beehives in his back yard. In the springtime, he collects a delicately sweet blossom honey. By summer, that has given way to a darker, richer wildflower honey.

Michael works in Cambridge and conveniently drops off both the cheeses and the honey at FK on his way to work.  They are outstanding artisanal products on their own, but perhaps elevated a little higher when they are served together, properly showcasing their common local roots.

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