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Green, Black and White Peppercorns

Green, Tellicherry Black, and Muntok White Peppercorns

Experimenting with herbs and spices in everyday cooking can be very intimidating. When I first became a spice buyer, I myself was overwhelmed by the seemingly endless number of herb and spice varieties that are out there, and it wasn’t until I was preparing to teach my first spice class at Formaggio Kitchen that I truly delved into one of the spice world’s most basic yet versatile berries: the peppercorn.

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ruinart

Ruinart Champagnes on display at Formaggio Cambridge.

We’ve long been enamored with grower Champagnes – those wonderful bubblies that are made and bottled by the very same people who cultivate and harvest the grapes. So trendy have these Champagnes become that it can easily be forgotten that the oldest winemaking tradition in this part of the world involves a relatively small group of specialty establishments who have a different approach to making the world’s premier sparkling wine. Known as the Grandes Marques, these houses rely mainly (but not solely) on grapes and wine purchased from select growers. What they contribute is artful sourcing and blending. These establishments bear some of the most recognizable names in Champagne: among them, Taitinger, Bollinger, Pol Roger, Moët & Chandon, and – the original – Ruinart.

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Tiramisu

Tiramisu made with Donna Elvira Savoiardi

If you haven’t seen the piles of panettone around the shop, you may not know that we recently received a large shipment of holiday treats from Italy. Along with all the breads, cakes, and other sweets came traditional savoiardi. These crisp Italian ladyfingers from Dolceria Donna Elvira in Modica, Sicily are the perfect building block for tiramisu! After a quick jaunt around the shop I had all the ingredients needed for one of my favorite Italian desserts; except, of course the rum.

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Three Vintages from Gigondas

Our three-pack of fantastic vintages from Domaine la Bouïssière Gigondas, France

Brothers Gilles and Thierry Faravel make wine in some of the most weirdly beautiful geography in all of France: in Gigondas, one of the crû villages of the southern Rhone Valley and in the very shadow of the rocky outcropping known as the Dentelles of Montmirail.

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Asti Spumante and Panettone

Asti Spumante and Panettone – A perfect pair!

Why does food and wine matching seem so difficult, so fraught with opportunity to miss the mark? It’s simple really: we insist on reinventing the wheel, overlooking time-tested pairings that are always spot-on in favor of hit-or-miss improvisations.

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holiday_wine_picks_2014

Our wine buyers’ top picks for the holidays! La Cigarrera Amontillado VOR, 2012 Domaine Comte Abbatucci “Cuvee Faustine” Rouge, 2005 CUNE “Contino” Rioja Reserva, and 1979 Kopke Colheita Port

The holiday season is upon us, and once again this year we’ve asked our wine buyers at both shops to recommend the wines they’re most excited about gifting this year. These are not every day wines, but rather special bottles that you will want to gift or sip with loved ones. If any of these wines strike your fancy let us know so we can set a bottle (or more) aside for you, as some of them are rare and available in very limited quantities.

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2014 Holiday Gift Guide!

Every year we look forward to the holidays and the excuse to share our favorite foods and kitchen accessories with friends and family. If you’re shopping for a food lover, tyrophile (cheese lover), budding chef, or seasoned culinarian this year, check out our list of top gift ideas that will please any palate! And if you’re giving in the greater Boston area, check out our “Locals Only” gift guide for special treats at our Cambridge shop!

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