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Formaggio Kitchen E-mails

We love to keep in touch with our customers. We tweet, we post on Facebook, we write articles on our blog and we send regular emails on a variety of subjects. Each year, we become more familiar with the best ways to give our readers what they want via each medium. With this in mind, we recently revamped our e-mail service, and are now able to tailor our e-mails to your interests more than ever before.

Now, when you sign-up to receive our e-mails, you can choose which of our stores you frequent most – be it Cambridge, the South End of Boston, New York’s Essex Market or online via our website. You can tell us if you’d like to hear about new or seasonal products or maybe our favorite gifts! Perhaps you’d like to hear about our travels as we discover new and delicious products? If you love to cook or bake, we can send you recipes from our kitchen and bakery. You can also choose to receive our weekly dinner e-mails, wine updates and class announcements. Or, you can simply choose the foods you love to hear about: love BBQ? Chocolate? Honey? Let us know and we’ll keep in touch with the most relevant information.

Please join us in celebrating a world of food and subscribe to our emails. If you are already a subscriber, we invite you to update your preferences.

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Red Leicester and Annatto Seeds

Red Leicester and Annatto Seeds

Mimolette. Red Leicester. Shropshire Blue. What do these three cheeses have in common? They are all orange and they are all colored with annatto. Annatto is a somewhat mysterious ingredient added to a number of cheeses and, recently, I took a minute to research where it comes from and a bit of its history. (more…)

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Rush Creek Reserve

When we started this blog, one of our main goals was to answer some of the questions we most regularly get on the cheese counter. As our blog’s archive has grown, we realize that some of these posts are becoming a little bit difficult to find so, here, under one header, we bring together the answers to some of those commonly asked questions!

  1. How do I put together a cheese plate?
  2. Do you eat the rind on this cheese?
  3. What exactly are double and triple-crème cheeses?
  4. What is a washed-rind cheese?
  5. How should I store my cheese?
  6. BONUS: a little bit of cheese history.

We hope that these posts continue to help folks understand and love cheese as much as we do. As always, please do not hesitate to let us know if you have any questions!

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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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Three Roqueforts: Vieux Berger (top left), Gabriel Coulet (bottom left) and Carles (right)

Three Roqueforts: Vieux Berger (top left), Gabriel Coulet (bottom left) and Carles (right)

We carry a number of AOC cheeses here at Formaggio KitchenÉpoisses, Langres, Comté and Fourme d’Ambert, to name a few.  As a result (and not surprisingly), one of the questions that we often field on the cheese counter is what the term AOC actually tells us about a given cheese.

AOC stands for Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (translating to: Controlled Name of Origin) and is a designation of process and provenance that is used in France. There are equivalents of the AOC program in other countries – in Italy it is called DOC (Denominazione d’Origine Controllata) or DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta)*, in Spain it is called DO (Denominacion de Origen) and, in the EU as a whole, the designation is PDO** (Protected Designation of Origin). (more…)

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On the cheese platter: a raw milk, blue cheese - Stichelton

On the cheese platter: a raw milk, blue cheese – Stichelton

A common question we get on the cheese counter is about how to put together a cheese plate, be it for a cocktail party or as a dinner course. There aren’t any rules per se – after all, it really comes down to what you will enjoy eating!  That said, when customers ask, we generally offer the following recommendations:

- It’s usually nice to include at least one cheese from each of the three major milk categories: cow, sheep and goat.

- Similarly, we like to include a variety of textures. For example, one might choose something smooth and spreadable (think Camembert, Brie or a chèvre), something semi-soft (for example, Vendéen Bichonne or Ardrahan) and something on the firmer side (ComtéCalcagno or a Boerenkaas).

(more…)

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Dorset cheese from Consider BardwellThis is one of the most common questions that I and, I suspect, my fellow cheesemongers field on a daily basis.  It is a good question to ask because how you store your cheese can profoundly affect both its flavor and longevity. (more…)

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Lo Brusc Acacia honey

When putting together cheese plates for our classes, we pair a condiment with each cheese flight.

Floriano Turco honey: Melata di Bosco

Not only is it fun for folks to try new things together but the ‘whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ phenomenon certainly comes into play when pairing cheeses with condiments. Classic go-tos for cheeses are honey, jam and membrillo (quince paste).  We also have a range of mostardas from Italy that provide a wonderfully spicy/fruity compliment to some of our stronger cheeses.  The rule of thumb (as with wine pairings) is generally to match strength to strength. (more…)

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Sulfur is a natural by-product of the wine making process and, as a result, there will always be around three to six parts per million (ppm) of naturally occurring sulfur in a wine.  Today, wine makers often elect to add sulfur for a variety of reasons throughout the wine making process whether it be in the vineyard, in the wine room or in the cellar.Sustainable wines from Formaggio Kitchen

Why do wine makers add more sulfur? In the vineyard, sulfur can be used to combat pests and diseases.  After harvest, it can be used to ensure a predictable fermentation or prolong the time before vinification by killing any yeasts or microbial life on the skins of the grapes.  In the wine cellar, sulfur is commonly used to clean barrels and fermentation vats in preparation for harvest.  It can be used in the cellar at the time of bottling (especially for export wines) to maintain a wine’s color and protect it from re-fermentation which produces a spritzy sensation on the palate.

How much sulfur are we talking about? In the European Union, the maximum sulfite level for certified biodynamic red wine is 60 ppm while the certified organic designation for red wine is limited to 90 ppm.  White wines in both categories allow slightly higher levels.  For conventional wines, the EU allows 160 ppm for red, 210 ppm for whites and rosés and 400 ppm for sweet wines.  In the U.S., the limit is 350 ppm.

So, why does the level of sulfur matter? The common perception is that sulfites in wine (especially red wine) contribute to headaches.  In fact, sulfites have been shown to affect a limited population of people (less than 1% of the population) with allergies to sulfites or asthmatic conditions.  In addition, red wine tends to have the lowest level of sulfites amongst the wine styles.  So, while many people do get headaches after drinking wine it appears unlikely that sulfites are the reason – or at least it’s unlikely they are the only reason.  Even if sulfites are innocent in this regard, we find other good reasons to seek out wines that are lower in sulfites. (more…)

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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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