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Archive for the ‘Candy & Confections’ Category

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.

Louisa Conrad and Lucas Farrell own Big Picture Farm on more than 150 acres of southern Vermont hillside, in the tiny town of Townshend. There, along with two dozen goats and a small staff, they oversee every step of making their caramels, from field to gift box. (They also make small batches of a tomme-style cheese, a winner at this year’s American Cheese Society Awards!) Their goats spend as much of the year as possible rotating through the lush pastures and woods, gobbling up the seasonal buffet. Louisa and Lucas first fell in love with goats after working at Blue Ledge Farm, another farmstead creamery in Vermont, then came to Townshend to work at the former Peaked Mountain Farm, milking sheep and making a variety of cheeses, all while starting their own small goat herd. Over the next five years, the creation of their caramel recipes, their adorable packaging, and the expansion of their wholesale and mail order business has put Big Picture Farm on the fancy food map.

I spent the past spring and summer at Big Picture Farm, mostly focused on caring for their Saanen, Alpine and Nubian goats, and making and aging cheese. It was hard work that asked a lot of my body and mind each day, but the rewards were endless.

Future goat milk caramel and cheese makers

Future caramel and cheese makers!

A typical day at Big Picture Farm begins with milking and chores at 5:30am (don’t skip out on the coffee), and the goats are always waiting to be fetched for their morning massage and snack. About three hours later, the goats are back out on pasture, napping or browsing, and their fresh, creamy, floral milk is in the tank, ready to be transformed. When most people are starting their workdays, I would be heading in for a second cup of coffee and a farmer’s breakfast, happy to have been up with (or before) the sun and to be in such a beautiful place.

The rest of the day fills up with various work projects, between mucking out the barn, changing the goats’ pasture, caring for dogs, cats, and chickens, and the garden, as well as helping out with packaging and shipping. On cheese making days, one person milks while two others spend all morning around the comforting smells of warming milk in the vat and ripening cheeses in the cave. In what seems like the blink of an eye, it’s 3:30pm and time to prepare for the evening milking. If the confectioner has been at work, the milking parlor has a great mixture of earthy and sugary aromas. Walking out of the big red barn in front of the setting sun, I can pick up ingredients from our garden on my way in for dinner; then, it’s to bed, to do it all over again the next day.

Since moving back to Massachusetts and joining the team at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, I now see the hard work that goes not just into those caramels, but all of our products.

Big Picture Farm Caramels

Big Picture Farm Caramels
(photo courtesy of Big Picture Farm)

We rotate through all four of Big Picture Farm’s glorious goat milk caramel varieties, and currently have three flavors at the Cambridge shop: the original Sea Salt and Bourbon Vanilla, winner of a gold SOFI award in 2012, the Chai, winner of a Good Food Award in 2013, and the Maple Cream. Visit bigpicturefarm.com to find more information about the farm, farmers, and the most adorable and tastiest gift ever. We <3 our small producers!

 

Leah Wang is still a farmer in Vermont and Maine (in her heart and mind), but loves being a cheesemonger at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

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Lakritsfabriken Super Salty Licorice

In the spring of 2013, Ihsan and I decided to visit Sweden, Denmark and Norway on a quest for new and delicious foodstuffs. We assumed that we would find lots of pickled herring, canned fish, lingonberry jams, rye crackers and licorice. Overall, we did well, bringing back several new items to the shop. (more…)

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A Representative Selection of Our Top 10 for 2013

At the end of each year, staff members at all three of our shops – in Cambridge, the South End of Boston and in New York – fill out a staff survey. We reflect on what we have tasted over the course of the past year – moments where we were surprised (both pleasantly and unpleasantly), new and exciting food experiences, as well as the flavors we found ourselves returning to time and again. We pick our favorites and share memorable moments. Some tried-and-true items appear in our survey results year after year – other items are new and exciting finds from the current year – goodies in this instance that distinguished 2013 from all others. Here are our top ten picks culled from this year’s survey results! (more…)

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Sorelle Nurzia Torrone

Sorelle Nurzia Torrone

Every year, it is with great anticipation that we order torrone, gianduja and panettone from Sorelle Nurzia, a small confectioner in Italy. These delicious goodies arrive in the shop brightly packaged, beautiful-looking and wonderfully festive – kicking off the holiday season here at the shop! (more…)

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Vermont Cheesemakers Festival - 2013

It was the perfect day yesterday at Shelburne Farms for the 5th annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival. Forty plus cheesemakers from around the state of Vermont, as well as a few from New Hampshire and Massachusetts, gathered for an afternoon of tasting and talking – and, happily, we did a lot of both! (more…)

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Moro Blood Oranges

Last Wednesday morning, as we received our weekly delivery of California produce, the wind was picking up and the clouds were grey and churning – a sure sign of snow on the way. As we hurriedly brought in the fresh greens, jewel-like lemons and first-of-the-season strawberries, the juxtaposition between the impending New England storm and spring produce from California was increasingly apparent. Unpacking a box of Moro blood oranges from Rancho del Sol, I was immediately hit with a rich, balsamic fragrance that was only matched in richness by the oranges’ bright ruby appearance. Having yet to preserve any of this season’s citrus fruit, I immediately decided to snap up a pound to juice and candy. (more…)

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Cornelis de Heem - Still Life with a Basket of Fruit

At the end of each year, staff members at all three of our shops – in Cambridge, the South End and in New York – fill out a staff survey. We reflect on our year in food, pick our favorites and share memorable moments. Some items are tried-and-true favorites, regularly appearing on the survey. Others are new and exciting products that helped to define and distinguish our year in food. Here are our top ten picks culled from this year’s survey results! (more…)

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