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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

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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Heirloom Apples from Scott Farm (Dummerston, VT)

Top to bottom: Franc Rambour, Duchess of Oldenburg, Lamb Abbey Pearmain and Gravenstein.

Crisp autumnal air. The sweet smell of leaves. Dashes of yellows and oranges and reds and browns. A quintessential New England fall. And nothing says fall to me like apples and apple picking.

As a child, roaming the orchards, climbing up the ladder to pick the fruit, and biting into a juicy red McIntosh was what thrilled me. Now that I’m a bit older, I still love to pick apples but, as a produce buyer here at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge, what really gets my motor going is the sheer variety of apples available today.

There are, of course, the old standbys like Granny Smith and Galas. The New England staples like Cortlands and Macouns. And, with the help of seed savers and the grace of a handful of dedicated growers, like Zeke Goodband of Scott Farm in Dummerston, Vermont, there are heirloom apples. The names themselves are reason to cheer: Ananas Reinette, Hudson’s Golden Gem, Duchess of Oldenburg. (more…)

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Gorgonzola Dolce (front) and Gorgonzola Piccante (rear)

Gorgonzola Dolce (front) and Gorgonzola Piccante (rear)

Lombardy is a region in the northernmost part of Italy, sitting on the country’s Alpine border with Switzerland. The terrain is varied, ranging from plains in the southern part, to the Alpine heights of the Valtellina in the north. Lakes stretch out along the countryside and rivers criss-cross the verdant landscape. Lombardy is a part of Italy that is home to many well-known cheeses: Taleggio, Mascarpone, Provolone, Grana Padano and Gorgonzola. If you were to follow the Po River, heading west out of Lombardy, you would arrive in the Piedmont, another rich cheese-making region. The town of Bra, home to possibly the most widely respected cheese festival in the world, is situated in this part of Italy. Like their neighbors in Lombardy, cheesemakers of the Piedmont make Taleggio and Gorgonzola. Among the many cheeses in their canon, are other familiar names like Raschera, Robiola di Roccaverano and Castelmagno. (more…)

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Salts at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge

In my first installment on the subject of salt, I touched on why this mineral is an important component of our diet and why it has played such a critical role in human history. Now, with access to salt in abundance, we have the luxury of focusing not just on sourcing it but on distinguishing between and even augmenting different varieties.

Here at the shop, we have many kinds of salt, sourced from all over the world. It can be daunting to try to choose between the lot of them so, when Formaggio Kitchen‘s owner, Ihsan, recently opened a number of them for a class, I jumped at the opportunity to do a little tasting across varieties and types, hitting many of the ones I had never tried before. Here are the results of my research and some of my tasting notes for others who might be interested in exploring the wide variety of salts that are now available to us: (more…)

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Salts at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge

Most folks know that salt is somehow critical to human survival. However, it wasn’t until reading Mark Kurlansky’s book, Salt, that I became aware of just how integral this substance is to the healthy functioning of our bodies and, consequently, the major role it has played in human affairs throughout much of recorded history. As far as our bodies are concerned, the average adult human contains just over a half pound of salt or, as Kurlansky calculates, roughly 3 or 4 salt shakers. However, in the natural course of things, we lose this salt and must take action to replenish it. (more…)

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Brie with Walnuts and Raisins on the VineThe terms “double-crème” and “triple-crème” are bandied about a lot in cheese shops. While most folks have a general idea of what they mean in terms of texture (creamy, spreadable!) and flavor (buttery, lactic!) for a cheese, these terms actually have very specific meanings. (more…)

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PumpkinFor New England bakers, the time of year has come when pumpkin makes its appearance on the menu. These goodies are invariably accompanied by crisp, autumn days, clear blue skies and beautiful fall foliage.

I recently learned that canned pumpkin in the supermarket is not a reduced form of jack o’ lanterns. What you get in those cans is a type of squash, just not the one we cut up and decorate for Halloween.

In the US, about 80 percent of the canned pumpkin market is held by Libby’s and they use something called the Dickinson pumpkin, which is paler and a bit more oblong than jack o’ lantern pumpkins. (more…)

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