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Archive for the ‘Producer Profile’ Category

Chocolat Durand 2015 Packaging

Chocolat Durand’s Coffret Bretagne and Formaggio Kitchen’s Choice 16-piece and 32-piece assortments. Packaging varies between shipments, but Valentine’s Day usually sees red ribbon!

A familiar name to many French chocolate lovers, Durand has been renowned for their delicate truffles since the 1980s, when this little patisserie began infusing their chocolates with herbs and spices for the 1987 Christmas season. A few years later, Formaggio Kitchen owners (and husband and wife) Ihsan and Valerie discovered these chocolates on a trip to Provence, and we’ve been smitten ever since.

Roughly four times a year (for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Mother’s Day) we receive a shipment of 16- and 32-piece boxes of Durand truffles. Phenomenally thin and delicate, these truffles are often snapped up fast by those who know to look for them (including a few staff members!). They make great gifts for the chocolate lovers in your life, and we think they taste sweetest shared.

Alas, as with all love stories, this one has had it’s ups and down. In fact, there have always been two Durands — Joël Durand and his wife Brigitte Roussel. Together they pioneered the infusions that make these truffles what they are, but unlike our love of Durand chocolates, the love between the Durands did not last. After their divorce they agreed to share the family name, with a twist: Joël maintained the tradition of labeling his creations with letters of the alphabet, while Brigitte got the numbers.

Today we source les chocolats numérotés from Maître Chocolatier Brigitte Roussel, based in her native Brittany. Our boxes feature a unique selection of Ihsan and Valerie’s hand-selected favorites from Brigitte’s many varieties of 64% cacao chocolate confections. We’re excited to also offer Brigitte’s unique Brittany Box (Coffrets Bretagne), which features 16 flavors classic to the culinary history of Brittany: fleur de sel, buckwheat honey and saffron, Brittany algae, wild anise of the seaside, coffee and lambic, East Indian spices, hazelnut and crushed Brittany crêpe, and salted butter caramel.

Each box includes a flavor guide, to help you identify the contents of each numbered tile. Our favorite way to savor these boxes is with friends, family or a special someone, taking turns with either the box or the guide, blind-tasting a chocolate and guessing the flavors infused!

 

Formaggio Kitchen Chocolats Durand 16-piece Assortment:

Palet d’Or (dark chocolate truffle topped with edible gold leaf); orange; Earl Grey; pistachio; lavender; absinthe; caramel; vanilla; almond praline; pepper; raspberry; rosemary; basil lemon; Guyana (milk chocolate, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon zest); Yucatan (dark chocolate, piment d’Espelette, Corsican honey); and a single origin dark chocolate

Brigitte Roussel’s 32 Flavors:
Palet d’Or (dark chocolate truffle topped with edible gold leaf); orange; black coffee; milk coffee; Earl Grey; cinnamon; jasmine; pistachio; fresh mint; lavender; Guyana (milk chocolate, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon zest); licorice; absinthe; caramel; Lebanon (dark chocolate, cardamom, coffee); vanilla; hazelnut praline; dill; Yucatan (dark chocolate, piment d’Espelette, Corsican honey); thyme; Irish Coffee; clove and lemon; pepper; raspberry; elderflower blossom; basil and lemon; Vietnam (dark chocolate, fresh ginger and citronella); Madagascar (single origin Madagascar dark chocolate with cacao nibs); verbena; and Tonka nut.

 

Rob Campbell is a culinary adventurer, world traveler, science geek, and also the blog manager at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

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Domaine de Vaccelli Cuvée Roger 2009 with Meadowood Farm Lamb Chops and Red Fire Farm Brussels Sprouts.

Domaine de Vaccelli Cuvée Roger 2009
with Meadowood Farm Lamb Chops and Red Fire Farm Brussels Sprouts.

France’s Île de Beauté (Island of Beauty) lies one hundred miles south of France’s Côte-d’Azur and just over fifty miles west of Tuscany. This wildly majestic island enjoys some of the hottest, driest conditions in all of France (it holds the record for the most annual sunshine), and is where the Greeks first cultivated vines back in the 6th Century BCE. Despite this long history of production, it was not until the 1960s, when a horde of skilled wine-makers fled Algeria (the so-called French pieds noirs) for Corsica, that it became known for wines of quality of distinction.

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Milking the goats at Big Picture Farm

Milking the goats at Big Picture Farm

Big Picture Farm has caught the attention of many a candy-eater, gift-giver, artisanal-food junkie and Tumblr user, and the farm’s award-winning goat’s milk caramels are fully deserving of hype and high praise. We proudly stock their precious packages in the bakery window, and hold onto their idyllic postcards behind the bakery to cheer us up. Behind their stunning pictures and doodles of goats, dogs, and garden harvests, however, is a working farm and growing business driven by passionate people.

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Higher Ground Rooftop Farm

Higher Ground Rooftop Farm

We climb narrow metal steps from the top floor of the Boston Design Center, set out through a heavy, metal door, and over a final raised ledge at the bottom of the door that can only be intended to discourage entrance onto the roof. Even before my eyes adjust to the brilliant sunlight, with my first breath, I can feel the farm in my lungs. It is not exactly just the smell of things growing; more the feeling of being given pure, new oxygen, in even exchange for the CO2 I am offering. When, still squinting, I first see the careful rows of vibrant life, I have that feeling of gazing at a mirage – it seems a bit of that visible, liquidy heat shimmers up into the air just beyond the edge of the rooftop, slightly obscuring the Boston skyline, at eye-level, off in the distance.

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Daphnis and Chloe Herbs: Bay Leaf, Oregano Taygetus, Thyme Blossoms, Greek Mountain Tea

Daphnis and Chloe Herbs:
Bay Leaf, Oregano Taygetus, Thyme Blossoms, Greek Mountain Tea

When I first became the spice buyer at Formaggio Kitchen I was so excited to delve deeper into the incredible, international world of spices. However, the more I traveled, learned and sampled, the more I realized that the spice industry is primarily made up of large producers more concerned with the bottom line than the quality of their product. It became a personal mission of mine to find small scale producers that match the quality-driven philosophy we hold so dear at Formaggio Kitchen. While it was difficult at first, I soon found equally passionate folks dedicated to producing spices of the highest quality. Slowly but surely our selection has transformed, with each little package of herb or spice now representing a regional culinary history and, more often than not, the unique and inspiring story of a passionate producer.

One such story is that of Daphnis and Chloe. Aptly named after a second century Greek love story, this small company introduces customers to Greece’s culinary history through their rare and unique varieties of indigenous herbs and spices. The Greek Archipelago provides natural isolation, allowing for different, ancient varieties of herbs and spices to develop unique characteristics particular to one island alone. Evangelia, the founder of Daphnis and Chloe, first captured my attention with some of the most remarkable oregano that I have ever tried. She found them by combing through the many different isles, working with foragers and organic cultivators to source the most extraordinary varieties.

Evangelia tells the store of Daphnis and Chloe best herself:

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Mottura Vineyard

Porcupine’s eye view of the Mottura Vineyard

This past April the Formaggio Wine Team took a pleasant trip to visit Sergio Mottura’s estate on our way to VinItaly 2014. We flew into Rome’s Fiumicino airport early in the morning and drove north-east towards Umbria. We eventually split off from the crazy A1 autostrada onto small, one-lane roads. Just along the northern border of Lazio we reached the medieval hamlet of Civitella d’Agliano, and the home, hotel and cantina of the Mottura family.

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Big Orange Tomatoes - Red Fire Farm

Big Orange Tomatoes – Red Fire Farm

Spring has finally snuck back into town and I am getting excited about the local, organic produce that will soon be gracing our shelves! On one especially stunning Monday morning, I had the chance to chat with Max Jiusto, the Harvest Manager at Red Fire Farm‘s Montague, MA location (they also have land in Granby, MA).

So what about this winter? Max explained that the extension of winter that we have all been bemoaning set Red Fire back about two weeks in their planting schedule. Even when the top layer of soil started to thaw, the lower layers remained frozen, so water couldn’t drain down into the ground and would just pool in the fields, making planting impossible. They started the plants in the greenhouse at the normal time, however, so even though they will be going into the ground about two weeks late, Max is hopeful that with a little cooperation from the weather, the plants will be able to catch up in their growth and end up maturing right on schedule. (more…)

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