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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

This is one of the most common questions that I get when I work on the cheese counter. My answer: yes, usually I do. Pretty much all cheese rinds are easily digestible. The primary exceptions are cloth-bound and wax rinds. After that, it’s pretty much personal preference.

Tomme Crayeuse

A rule of thumb – cheeses tend to get stronger the closer you get to the rind and the rind itself will be the strongest tasting part of the cheese. If you are tasting a cheese for the first time and aren’t sure whether you will like it, start with a nibble from the center-most part of the ‘paste.’ Then, if you like what you are tasting, gradually work your way outwards. If you like all of the paste, give the rind a go!

Having eaten cheese for a while now, I know there are some rinds I definitely don’t like, rinds that most folks don’t eat: Parmigiano Reggiano is one example (grilled parm rinds are an exception!) and Comté is another, even though it has a natural rind. My stomach could digest them – I just don’t like the way they taste or feel in my mouth. That said, there are some cheeses I love that are particularly scrumptious, in my opinion, because they have delicious rinds. Among these, I would include Tomme Crayeuse, Jasper Hill’s Bayley Hazen Blue and Ardrahan.

Ardrahan

They are all very different styles of cheese – Tomme Crayeuse is semi-soft cheese and has a very earthy, mushroom-y flavor profile, underscored by its natural rind.

Bayley Hazen is a medium-strength blue cheese that tastes really nutty – the rind is like a distilled version of this fantastic nuttiness. Ardrahan is an Irish, washed-rind cheese. Its rind is brine-washed and this saltiness shows through – sometimes enough to

Bayley Hazen Blue

make me think of the ocean while sometimes it manifests itself in more of a peanut-y flavor. Either way, it is really snackable (oh, and great with beer!).

My advice – give the rind a try! If you don’t like it, you’ll know for next time. On the other hand, you may just discover another reason to love a cheese!

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Darjeeling Teas

A cup of hot tea has always been something of a rallying cry in my family – over the summer, iced tea prevails, generally garnished with fresh slices of orange.  In winter time, however, hot tea reigns supreme, usually accompanied by a piece of shortbread, a ginger cookie or a slice of fruit cake.

This past summer, I deviated from my usual stove-top iced tea routine and invested in a dedicated iced tea maker.  Determined to find my optimal brew, I purchased small quantities of different loose teas we have here at Formaggio Kitchen.  It was difficult to choose a favorite but, in the end, Everglad from Dammann Frères‘s became my go-to tea – a green tea with notes of grapefruit, imparted by dried bits of grapefruit rind.  It is amazingly refreshing when iced and, given the tendency to drink more during the hot months, it was nice that it wasn’t as caffeinated as black tea. (more…)

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Local Crab Apples

We recently held our first ever Apple Fest at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge and, ever since, I have had apples on my mind!  For me, apples provoke a range of memories and positive associations but, only recently, did I take the time to delve a little further into the history and science of this fruit.

When I was a child, we used to visit my grandparents’ place in Connecticut and, in their orchard, we were able to pick McIntosh apples straight from the trees.  Eating an apple outside and, remembering the legend of Johnny Appleseed, I would try to plant the odd apple seed.  When I did so, I always envisioned a bountiful apple tree heavy with fruit and looking precisely like the apple I was munching on.  Little did I know that my seed, had it ever come to fruition, would have produced something very different.  Apple seeds are heterozygotes meaning that, like human children, they often bear only a slight resemblance to their parents.  This is why there are so many apple varieties!

The part of me that loves to spend time in the kitchen relishes this time of year – a time that has traditionally brought with it a slew of delicious, apple-derived dishes: apple pie, caramel apples and apple cider to name a few.  The prominence of the apple in the American food psyche is nothing new.  If anything, it is less prominent now than it was a century ago.  In the 19th century, Americans were growing in the region of 14,000 distinct varieties of apples, a period in our history that has been called the “golden age” of pomology.  Apples were reviewed with the same enthusiasm with which people now review movies! (more…)

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