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Archive for the ‘Herbs, Spices, Salts & Peppers’ Category

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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A Representative Selection from our Holiday Gift Guide

Do you have a food lover, budding chef, charcuterie aficionado or chocolate fiend in your life? Short on gift ideas? Not to worry – we’ve got you covered! Our staffers thought long and hard to come up with their top picks for what they would give to food-loving friends, family members and loved ones – here are the results: (more…)

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Ihsan and Valerie Gurdal

Ihsan and Valerie own and run the Formaggio Kitchen family of stores. As is true of any folks passionate about their jobs, work intertwines throughout all aspects of their lives. Their travels – frequent and far-flung – are largely dictated by the food producers they want to meet or to revisit, by rumors of new and exciting foodstuffs and/or food conferences such as “Cheese,” the biennial Slow Food festival held in Bra, Italy. Their larder and wine cellar are stocked with favorite items they have imported or new items they are testing out. Even when on holiday, they are in direct communication with all three stores, coordinating deliveries from Europe and generally checking to make sure everything is on track. (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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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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Julie with cleaned Piment d'Espelette peppers

With cleaned Piment d’Espelette peppers

About this time last year, while traveling through the Pyrenees mountains, Valerie, Ihsan and I stopped for a few days to pay a visit to the small farm that produces one of our favorite products: Piment d’Espelette AOC. Piment d’Espelette (translation: peppers from Espelette) are bright red peppers grown in the town of Espelette and 9 surrounding communes. These peppers have a delicate, sweet-fruity flavor and a medium spiciness, a little milder than your average jalapeño. They’re most often sold dried, whole or pulverized into a flaky powder. (more…)

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Salts at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge

In my first installment on the subject of salt, I touched on why this mineral is an important component of our diet and why it has played such a critical role in human history. Now, with access to salt in abundance, we have the luxury of focusing not just on sourcing it but on distinguishing between and even augmenting different varieties.

Here at the shop, we have many kinds of salt, sourced from all over the world. It can be daunting to try to choose between the lot of them so, when Formaggio Kitchen‘s owner, Ihsan, recently opened a number of them for a class, I jumped at the opportunity to do a little tasting across varieties and types, hitting many of the ones I had never tried before. Here are the results of my research and some of my tasting notes for others who might be interested in exploring the wide variety of salts that are now available to us: (more…)

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