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Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

Pigs drinking whey at Jasper Hill FarmOn a recent trip to Jasper Hill Farm, I had the distinct pleasure not only of tasting many delicious cheeses made and aged here in New England, but also of getting acquainted with some inhabitants of the farm who happen to be just as fond of dairy products — or by-products as the case may be — as I am.

The farm has acquired its group of piglets for the season, and man, do they love whey!

Farms producing milk and making cheese from it inherently find themselves with loads of whey, the liquid that separates out from the milk when cheese curds are formed. There are some great uses for this tangy liquid — in some cases, you can use it to make traditional ricotta and other cheeses. Or you can use it in the kitchen in place of water in breads, sauces and stews. Or you can just drink it straight, as it’s filled with protein, vitamins and minerals. You can really only consume so much whey though, and inevitably you can’t keep up with production. So the question becomes: what to do with the rest? (more…)

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Although there are an abundance of things to snack on here at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge, Effie’s Oatcakes have become a fast favorite of mine. These delicate oatcakes are part cookie and part savory cracker. They are made using a carefully guarded family recipe with origins in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

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Mast Brothers chocolate barsThough we may think of Europe as the epicenter of fine chocolate, America is arguably home to the world’s most exciting community of up-and-coming chocolate makers.

What you see in America that you don’t necessarily see elsewhere is a growing crop of “bean-to-bar” chocolate producers – artisans who are working directly with raw cocoa beans, often sourced directly from farmers. In their small labs in places as unlikely as Utah and Missouri, these producers are seeing the cocoa through from its raw form to its natural end — beautiful bars of chocolate that showcase as much of the flavor and character of the original bean as possible.

It sounds like a relatively straightforward process, but it’s actually unusual. A lot of chocolatiers buy pre-made chocolate from larger companies, melt it down and make their own bars or confections. This is not to say their products are necessarily bad or inferior, but just as we support small-craft cheese and wine at Formaggio Kitchen, we also like to support small-craft chocolate as much as possible. (more…)

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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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