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Flying into Paris

Flying into Paris

One of the great perks of working at Formaggio Kitchen is the opportunity to travel around the world in search of delicious foods. Ihsan and Valerie Gurdal, owners of the Formaggio Kitchen family of shops, feel strongly that being on the ground to meet with farmers, affineurs and food producers is the best way to find the most delicious goodies to stock our shelves and fill our cheese cases. That philosophy has yielded and continues to yield marvelously tasty results! Continue Reading »

A selection of our olive oilsI’ve been thinking a lot about olive oil recently. I buy the olive oil for our shop and each time I consider a new oil, I taste it with several other buyers to determine its quality and its potential fit into our selection. In addition to my buying responsibilities, I’ve been reading several recent articles about the scandalous world of big olive oil, evidently full of graft and corruption. Tom Mueller’s 2011 book Extra Virginity shines a light on the history, problems and some of the worst (or at least most suspect) and best producers of olive oil. Considering all of this turmoil surrounding olive oil, I encourage you to experience the revelation of tasting truly exceptional olive oil. Continue Reading »

Gilles Berlioz's "La Piquette" with Pantaleo and kumquats

Each winter, I chuckle when I hear myself describing 30 degree weather as “balmy,” while simultaneously shaking my head at the arctic outcrops of snow outside. With all the white snow setting everything in frigid, monochromatic contrast, I find myself craving shades of yellow and orange, and the warm spectrum of flavors that go along with them. A delicate, understated Savoie white from Gilles Berlioz, made of 100% Jacquère, is the perfect complement to one of my favorite aged Sardinian goat milk cheeses, Pantaleo. Coupled with some thin slices of exuberantly tart kumquats, I get all of the sunshine and fresh aromas I need to make it through the deep-freeze of winter. Continue Reading »

Fancy Food Show with Jamie Montgomery and Jason Hinds

L-R: Kyra, Julia, Jamie Montgomery, Jason Hinds and me

At this year’s Winter Fancy Food show in San Francisco, I and two of my colleagues at Formaggio Kitchen – Kyra and Julia – were treated to a special opportunity: to taste Montgomery’s cheddar guided by an expert from Neal’s Yard Dairy and the cheese maker himself, Jamie Montgomery. The folks from Neal’s Yard, with whom we have a particularly close relationship, visit our shop on a relatively frequent basis but this particular event was a rare opportunity as Jamie only makes it States-side once a decade. In general, he prefers staying down on his Somerset farm with his herd of 200 Friesian cows and aging wheels of clothbound cheddar, to standing in front of an eagerly-attentive audience. But with a characteristic English intonation the 3rd generation cheesemaker did not disappoint. Far from it. Continue Reading »

Brian Outside the Cheese Pod

Brian Outside the Cheese Pod (photo: Liss Flint, Flint Prints)

The Mystic Cheese Company was dreamed up by Brian Civitello, and was joined in making it a reality by an alumnus of the Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge cheese counter and current cheese shop owner – Jason Sobocinski. Brian has made cheese professionally for the past 12 years, both in Italy as well as the United States, working for companies on the West (Rogue Creamery) and East (Calabro Cheese) coasts. The concept for Mystic Cheese Co., established in 2013, grew out of his experiences as a consultant for small family farms throughout the country. The goal: to assist American artisan cheese makers develop businesses by providing the infrastructure to begin a successful cheesemaking operation. Continue Reading »

Laherte Fréres, Chartogne-Taillet and Jean Vesselle Half Bottle Champagne

A half-bottle of Champagne is the perfect size for starting off an evening of romantic dining for two. The bubbles refresh and perk up your palate, but you still have room to share a full bottle of wine with dinner. Likewise, a half bottle of bubbly can give you just the right amount of buzzy cheer if you’re serving it with a bit of cheese in lieu of a large meal. Here are three of our favorite Champagne halves paired with three Valentine’s Day moods. Continue Reading »

Porters

L-R: Maine Beer Co.’s King Titus, Pretty Things’ Once Upon a Time 1855, Harviestoun’s Old Engine Oil, Salopian Brewery’s Entire Butt, and D. Carnegie & Co.’s Porter.

Poor porter.

If there was a contest for most misunderstood beer style, the woebegone porter would probably win. IPA’s are perennial favorites, stouts are synonymous with winter, but porters are the forgotten little brother, constantly fighting for attention and respect.

A quick scan of beer literature (don’t worry, I did it for you) reveals a mess of confusion about exactly what the difference is between porters and stouts. A little more reading and you start to get to the bottom of it: there is no clearly delineated difference – in fact, it’s often in the eye of the beholder. Continue Reading »

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