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Archive for the ‘Pairings’ Category

Quinta do Infantado Tawny PortPorto, or “port” as it is known in English, is made in the Douro Valley of northern Portugal. There are many grapes port-makers are allowed to use, but the most common are Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo), Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Touriga Francesca and Touriga Nacional.

Port was a byproduct of the ongoing wars between France and England. Without wines from France, the English were forced to look elsewhere to satisfy demand. Portugal provided a good alternative, but the long boat trip from Portugal often resulted in spoiled wine. To combat spoilage, winemakers began adding high-alcohol aguardente to their wines to stop fermentation, leaving a more sturdy, higher alcohol wine with some residual sugar. These new fortified wines could make the trip no problem! (more…)

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El Maestro Sierra Amontillado SherrySherry (“Xerez” in Spanish) is made in the region of the same name on the southern tip of Spain near Gibraltar. There, Palomino grapes are grown on chalky soils called albariza. The grapes are fermented into dry wines, then fortified and placed into large, 500L oak barrels. Some of these barrels develop a thick layer of yeast called flor (literally “flower”).

Flor is naturally occurring, unpredictable, and can’t be induced or controlled once it occurs! When it does form, the wine ages underneath without oxidizing, resulting in what is known as a fino Sherry. If the flor forms, but then dies off or doesn’t develop, the wine, if deemed rich and robust enough, is fortified a bit more and then allowed to slowly oxidize and become an amontillado. If a flor does not form at all, the wine will be fortified further and will be aged in wooden barrels to become a richer and darker oloroso Sherry. In the case of amontillado and oloroso styles of Sherry, exposure to oxygen turns the wine a coppery color, and encourages the development of toasty, nutty aromas. Yum. (more…)

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Thanksgiving Cheese Spread

We love Thanksgiving. It may mean a variety of things to a variety of people but there are many common threads – turkey, family, friends, cranberries, football, a full stomach and, in many cases, an afternoon nap or walk. This year, we checked in with our domestic cheese buyer, Tripp, who has put together a wonderful Thanksgiving cheese board, incorporating a cross-section of milk types and textures. He draws on some old favorites but also includes a couple of newer cheeses that we think are destined to become classics in their own right! (more…)

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This week we’re highlighting one of our favorite French liqueurs, the inky black currant flavored Crème de Cassis de Dijon. These sweet little bottles of crème de cassis are made in Burgundy by Briottet, a company run by the Briottet family in the town of Dijon since 1836.

Briottet Crème de CassisBriottet makes their crème de cassis with only “Noir de Bourgogne” black currants. The word “crème” signifies that the liqueur is made from macerated, real fruit rather than flavorings and, the addition of the name Dijon means that the currants (“cassis”) used were grown only in the commune of Dijon. These currants are picked quickly at their peak ripeness and are immediately immersed in alcohol where they macerate for 3 months. Sugar is then added to balance out the tart flavor of the currants – it also makes the liqueur syrupy. Upon completion, crème de cassis has about the same alcohol content as port. (more…)

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Ardrahan, an Irish washed-rind cheese

Ardrahan

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate than with an Irish cheese plate? Our team at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge have put together a selection of some of our favorites and Eric, our Cambridge beer buyer, has given us a list of fantastic beers to pair with them. Best wishes for a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day. Éirinn go Brách! (more…)

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Bink Bruin (Belgian Dark Ale) from Brouwerij Kerkom in Kerkom-Sint Truiden, BelgiumThe first Saturday I had off after BBQ season finished, I finally got around to trying Brouwerij Kerkom’s beer Bink Bruin. It is phenomenal. I had it with dinner, a grilled salad sort of thing: grilled steak tips (medium rare) on my own garden arugula with grilled tomato and apple slices, Stilton chunks and a blue cheese mustard vinaigrette. And the beer was a perfect match. (more…)

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Mahrs Bräu - Ungespundet - Lager Hefetrüb Bottle Cap

Mahr’s Bräu is a German brewery in the suburbs of Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage City. Bamberg is almost directly east of Frankfurt and is one of the region’s historical beer-brewing centers. Today, the Franconian Brewery Museum which is located there offers visitors a view into that long history. Situated in a former monastic brewery, with a history dating back to 1122, it seems fitting this museum was established in a town with a population of just over 70,000 people and nine breweries. (more…)

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