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Archive for the ‘Travelogues’ Category


Winnimere - Jasper HillLast year, I visited the Cellars at Jasper Hill and had the opportunity to participate in the Winnimere cheesemaking process. It was a very educational experience as there are some interesting new developments going on at Jasper Hill. I thought I would share a little about the cheesemaking process, as well as give a sneak peek into a couple of new cheeses:

Flocculation

Flocculation is a test conducted with a rounded knife. The knife is put into the renneted milk. When the milk starts to curdle and grab onto the knife, an experienced cheesemaker is able to determine the exact time to cut the curd. (more…)

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Prosciutto Pio TosiniSome months ago, Giovanni Bianchi of the prosciutto curing house, Pio Tosini, visited our shop in Cambridge for a staff tasting. Giovanni’s family has been curing prosciutto in the Parma region of Italy since 1905 and today, Giovanni, along with one of his cousins and an uncle, continue the family business.

Formaggio Kitchen Staff Pio Tosini Prosciutto Tasting

Giovanni Leads a Pio Tosini Prosciutto Tasting with Staff

The tasting had one of the strongest turnouts ever from among staff members – it was the first time we had had someone from one of our prosciutto curing houses visit the shop and everyone was curious and excited. The evening was fascinating and involved some delicious prosciutto tasting, a good amount of talking and lots of questions! At the end of the evening, Giovanni was kind enough to encourage staff members who might be visiting Italy to get in touch and he would be happy to show us around the Pio Tosini facility. Recently, I was fortunate enough to be traveling in the area and took him up on his generous offer. (more…)

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Old and Young Parmigiano Reggiano

On a recent trip to Italy, I had the opportunity to visit a co-op that makes Parmigiano Reggiano. It was a first for me – I have witnessed the cheesemaking process before and have even tried my hand at making chèvre but I had never before observed the making of a hard, aged cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano. (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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Mast Brothers SignSince opening in Brooklyn a few years ago, Mast Brothers Chocolate has been making a big name for itself. Founding brothers, Rick and Michael Mast, create flavorful bean-to-bar chocolate with imagination and enthusiasm at every step. They import some of the finest single origin cacao from around the world. Recently, they realized a long-held dream of importing some of their beans by sailboat, direct from the Dominican Republic to New York. (more…)

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Bra, Italy - Respect the City of CheeseEvery two years, the biggest festival in the cheese world happens in Bra, Italy. The event is known simply as “Cheese.” Cheesemakers, cheesemongers, journalists, food lovers and folks lucky enough to live close by, descend on the small town of Bra to sample, sell and eat literally tons of cheese. This year at the biennial festival it was no different. With one exception. The thermometer hit a whopping 90°F. (more…)

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A Visit to Jasper Hill Farm

TOP ROW (L-R): Cabot airing, Bayley Hazen salting, Bayley Hazen pH graph + rocks under the cheese racks help with moisture control. BOTTOM ROW (L-R): Moses Sleeper in 20% brine, Landaff cheese and Bayley Hazen in its forms.

Some weeks ago, I made an immensely informative and inspiring trip to Jasper Hill Farm and The Cellars at Jasper Hill in Greensboro, Vermont.

The Jasper Hill enterprise was started by two brothers, Andy and Mateo Kehler. The determination that they have towards revolutionizing and solidifying the cheese-making industry in their state and in this country is unmatched in its political, scientific, and pastoral fervor. As a result, I want to share a bit of what got me so excited! (more…)

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Bees at their hiveSome weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend an introductory beekeeping class led by local beekeeper, Jean-Claude Bourrut. After a quick hop, skip and a jump (i.e. a T journey, a bus ride and a short walk), I found my way to his hives which are nestled between the Boston Nature Center and the Clark Cooper Community Gardens in Mattapan. (more…)

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VinItaly 2011

VinItaly 2011

After an exhilarating five days of intensive tasting in and just outside of Verona at VinItaly, VinNatur, and Vino Vino Vino, my palate has been reinvigorated and my “wine speak” in Italian has once again been thoroughly challenged and expanded.

VinItaly is Verona’s infamous wine expo that brings together over 4,000 producers in a cluster of twelve bustling, cavernous convention halls. Conversely, VinNatur and Vino Vino Vino are smaller, organic tastings that are held in historic sites outside of the city and exhibit less than 150 producers. I tasted recent vintages of some of my already established favorites and made some new discoveries along the way. (more…)

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This wine captures the essence of Summer and SeaWhen Valerie, Ihsan and I visited the Ameztoi Winery in October of last year, rosé season was months away. Now a cool but sunny April has arrived and with it has come our first shipment of Ameztoi Rubentis Rosado*.

Ameztoi is one among a cluster of wineries perched high in the hills of the Getaria province of Spain, overlooking the Atlantic ocean. On a clear day, you can see the city of San Sebastián from Ameztoi’s vineyards.

Ignacio Ameztoi is a 7th generation winemaker. He and his enormous German Shepherd gave us a personal tour of the family winery – a pretty building completely surrounded by grapevines with a stunning view of the Atlantic. Ameztoi’s vines are quite old, many 150 years or older. (more…)

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