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Archive for the ‘Cheese’ Category

Extremadura, Spain

I recently had the opportunity to attend a small festival of food producers in the Extremadura region of Spain with fellow food buyers representing small shops as well as large distributors from around the world. I had never been to Spain before and was thrilled to be able to visit a country with such a rich and diverse culinary history – and to be able to discover new and delicious products for our stores. (more…)

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Tripp and Andrew at Fromageries Marcel Petite

At Fromageries Marcel Petite

Landing in Geneva, our first day began auspiciously with 65°F blue skies and a new convertible (our reserved sedan was unavailable) to drive us west into the Jura. Tripp (domestic cheese buyer for our Cambridge shop), and Sarah (Tripp’s counterpart at the South End), and I marveled at the snow-capped mountains in the eastern distance and how the yellow brilliance of patched rapeseed fields rested calmly in their spaces. The three of us were in France to visit with cheesemakers and food producers, checking in with old friends and making new ones. Climbing up into the hills, we arrived at our first destination, Fromageries Marcel Petite at Fort St. Antoine. (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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Fromageries Marcel Petite's Fort Saint Antoine

Fromageries Marcel Petite’s Fort Saint Antoine

What makes Comté so incredibly special? And, why is it a cheese I find myself drawn to time and again, lured in as if it had cast a spell on me? Of course, it’s one of France’s classic cow milk cheeses – a firm mountain cheese that was among the first to receive protected status. There are the requirements of the appellation that set it apart – Comté cheese must be made with milk from cows of the Montbéliarde (95%) and Simmental (5%) breeds. It must also be made within the regions of Doubs, Jura and Ain in France – and, the cow feed has to be from pastures within a 30km radius of the fruitière making it (a fruitière is a facility where milk from the community is pooled – generally this system exists in areas where large cheeses, like Comté, are made - Parmigiano Reggiano would be a similar example in Italy). (more…)

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Ruggles Hill Creamery - Cheese Molds

Cheese Molds

Since I began working at Formaggio Kitchen South End, I have been drawn to a selection of small goat milk cheeses made by Tricia Smith at Ruggles Hill Creamery in Hardwick, MA. Shifting from the world of art and museums to cheese, I was at first more attuned to the visual details of the cheeses I encountered than I was able to analyze the incredible flavors and aromas they offered. Tricia’s cheeses, such as the delicate Ada’s Honor and the silvery gray Brother’s Walk struck me as distinctly beautiful for their carefully developed rinds and snowy white interiors. (more…)

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Consider Bardwell Sign

Consider Bardwell cheeses constitute a stronghold in the domestic section of our cheese counter. We have been carrying cheeses from this outstanding dairy for some years now – day in, day out, they maintain a standard of excellence and consistency that, if you are familiar with cheesemaking, know is a real challenge and, when executed, is a true achievement. (more…)

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Castelmagno

Last week, Ihsan shared with us a few memories from one of his early cheese sourcing trips – a 1993 trip to the Castelmagno region of Italy. In that post, he described one of his revelatory food experiences: Gnocchi al Castelmagno. Since that trip, he has been working on recreating the dish at home. Here is the current permutation of that recipe, one he says gets pretty close to that amazing, first taste! (more…)

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Santuario di San Magno in Castelmagno

Santuario di San Magno in Castelmagno

One of the most memorable trips my wife, Valerie, and I have taken in pursuit of new cheeses was in 1993. We traveled to Castelmagno, home to the famous Italian cheese of the same name. Located on the very northwest fringes of Italy, Castelmagno is a small commune or municipality, consisting of several hamlets. We were invited to visit the region by our friend and mentor, Matteo Ascheri. The hamlet we visited had only one albergo (inn) and a total population of 56. Eleven of those inhabitants made Castelmagno. (more…)

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Azeitao

Azeitão – coagulated with the cardoon thistle

If, as Clifton Fadiman once said, “cheese is milk’s leap toward immortality”, then rennet could be considered the springboard of cheesemaking. Stripped down to its most basic processes, the first steps of cheesemaking involve taking warm milk, adding a starter culture (to convert the lactose in the milk to lactic acid) and adding rennet. The lactic acid begins coagulating the milk in a slow process that yields a delicate curd and some cheeses are still made using this method as the sole form of coagulation. Most cheeses, however, also employ rennet to separate the curds from the whey, speeding up the process and leading to a firmer, more elastic curd. (more…)

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Making Goat Cheese at Rawson Brook Farm

Some of our customers may have noticed a new fresh goat milk cheese in our cases. Carolyn Hillman, our go-to fresh chèvre producer for many years, is taking a hiatus from production for the next year or so. While heartbroken about this absence, I am thrilled to be able to support another grande dame of Massachusetts cheesemaking – Susan Sellew of Rawson Brook Farm. Susan is entering her 30th year of production! (more…)

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