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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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Vinho Verde: Dom Diogo Padeiro from Quinta da Raza

Dom Diogo Padeiro from Quinta da Raza

Even though it’s designated as a “Vinho Verde”, the Dom Diogo Padeiro from Quinta da Raza is not green or even white – it’s pink!

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Dizzy feasts on buttercups

Dizzy feasts on buttercups

A cow named Dizzy munches on buttercups, a goat named Isabelle ruminates under the shade of an old oak tree; in Vermont, the rolling green pastures are shadowed only by the cheeses that its distinct flora promotes.

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The Sintra Coastline

The Sintra coastline

Like everything born of Sintra, the Arenae Colares Malvasia is of and from the sea.

I had the good fortune to spend several weeks last summer exploring Lisbon and its surrounding environs, including an unforgettable day in Sintra, guided by two friends of mine who grew up there.

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Three Olive Oils: Xertoli Coupage, My Olive Tree, La Bandiera Toscano

Three Olive Oils: Xertoli Coupage, My Olive Tree, La Bandiera Toscano

Last month Tim tackled the biggest question on many olive oil consumers’ minds – guaranteeing authenticity in the face of fraud. While some may be tempted to solve this problem by swearing off certain countries of production, Tim argued that the key to finding great olive oil is finding a source you can trust. As we have experienced in our search for the best products for our shops, there are excellent, fair, and yes, fraudulent olive oils in all olive growing regions. It is only by knowing the producer and building trust with them that we can guaranteeing an excellent oil every time.

With that in mind, and as somewhat of an olive oil novice myself, I took it upon myself to taste through a few of our favorite olive oils, settling on three producers from three different countries representing some of the best oils Europe has to offer.

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Fennel and Potato Salad

Fennel and Potato Salad

August is here, and with it comes the peak of our produce season. With more and more amazing local fruits, vegetables and herbs to complement our bi-weekly deliveries direct from California, the options are pretty much endless.

This delicious and light potato salad uses the brininess of preserved lemon and balances it with the brightness of fennel and fresh herbs. Potatoes are generally associated with winter and colder months but they are actually dug from the ground now. The summer brings us new potatoes with thin skin and a more pronounced potato flavor. Fennel balances this dish with a light crunch.

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Mottura Vineyard

Porcupine’s eye view of the Mottura Vineyard

This past April the Formaggio Wine Team took a pleasant trip to visit Sergio Mottura’s estate on our way to VinItaly 2014. We flew into Rome’s Fiumicino airport early in the morning and drove north-east towards Umbria. We eventually split off from the crazy A1 autostrada onto small, one-lane roads. Just along the northern border of Lazio we reached the medieval hamlet of Civitella d’Agliano, and the home, hotel and cantina of the Mottura family.

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