Southwest of the Languedoc lies Roussillon, a region that has too often been reduced to mere suffix. Roussillon stretches from the river Aude in the north to the border of Catalonia in the South. In the West, the snow-capped Pyrenées rise above 2500m in places, with the jagged peaks of Pic du Canigou at 2,786m (9.140ft) above sea level. A sharp descent eastward brings you to back to the stifling heat of the Mediterranean coastline, where Vin Doux Naturels reign supreme. Roussillon is primarily known for these wines, which are made from partially-fermented grape juice that is fortified with alcohol before it fully becomes wine. Made from the most common regional varietal, Grenache (whether is be Noir, Gris, or Blanc) , these aperitif “wines” benefit from early ripening fruit in some of the hottest, driest vineyards in all of France. Overall Roussillon produces 90% of all French Vin Doux Naturel, the most famous of which is Banyuls, made in the southeasternmost corner of the region. In Banyuls-sur-Mer, Grenache grapes are grown on steeply-terraced schist slopes, allowed to shrivel on the vine, fermented, fortified, and aged in barrel for years at a time at which point they can achieve a depth comparable to vintage port.
Posted in France, Wine | Tagged Agly Valley, Carignan, Clot de l'Origine, food, France, French wine, Grenache, Languedoc, Marc Barriot, Roussillon, schist, Soif de Plaisir, Syrah, whole cluster fermentation, Wine | Leave a Comment »
The most important meal of the day isn’t always exciting, especially when you’re trying to keep it healthy. In the U.S. we associate health-food with bland, boring attempts at reduced sugar, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Müsli (also written muesli) was invented at the turn of the century by the Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner as a health food and diet dish — whole grains blended with lots of fruit and eaten with yogurt, milk, or fruit juice. I don’t remember if I was first introduced to müsli in Switzerland or not, but I do remember that I loved it (and not as a diet dish).
Not many people get to study food for a living, but even fewer study chocolate. Carla D. Martin, a Lecturer in the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University and “Professor of Chocolate,” studies social issues in the cacao and chocolate industry, from production and processing to personal consumption. She has also co-taught our class on chocolate here at Formaggio Kitchen, and stops by regularly for her favorite bars.
The world of chocolate, and North American craft chocolate in particular, has exploded in the last few decades. Building off of the rising popularity of fair trade and single origin products in the 1970s and 1980s, the French companies Bonnat, Valrhona, and Cluizel were the first to introduce single origin chocolate, bringing the concept of terroir formally to the world of chocolate consumption. Today, the number of artisanal, single-origin chocolatiers has skyrocketed, with our selection of around ten different producers making up just a small sampling of U.S. craft chocolates. When I first started trying the chocolates in our selection, I found defining craft chocolate, let alone picking a bar, pretty overwhelming. As part of my personal education efforts I sat down with Carla to talk about her views on the exciting world of North American craft chocolate, and what it all really means for chocolate lovers!
Posted in Chocolate, United States | Tagged American chocolate, artisan chocolate, bean-to-bar chocolate, craft chocolate, Dick Taylor Chocolate, food, Patric Chocolate, Rogue Chocolatier | 4 Comments »
We climb narrow metal steps from the top floor of the Boston Design Center, set out through a heavy, metal door, and over a final raised ledge at the bottom of the door that can only be intended to discourage entrance onto the roof. Even before my eyes adjust to the brilliant sunlight, with my first breath, I can feel the farm in my lungs. It is not exactly just the smell of things growing; more the feeling of being given pure, new oxygen, in even exchange for the CO2 I am offering. When, still squinting, I first see the careful rows of vibrant life, I have that feeling of gazing at a mirage – it seems a bit of that visible, liquidy heat shimmers up into the air just beyond the edge of the rooftop, slightly obscuring the Boston skyline, at eye-level, off in the distance.
I always look forward to celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is a lovely time of year when the weather is just cooling off, fall produce is coming into season and my craving for my grandmother’s brisket is at its highest!
A traditional aspect of Rosh Hashana is enjoying fresh apple slices with honey. The sweetness of this treat represents our hopes for a sweet new year. Since becoming the honey buyer almost 7 years ago, I have taken this tradition a step further by bringing home a selection of my favorite single varietal honeys each year. This year I decided to focus on a selection composed of very distinct honeys with geographic, visual and textural diversity. If the hopes for my new year are proportional to how lovely these honeys are, then my year is looking bright!
Posted in Honey, Rosh Hashanah | Tagged Big Island Bees, Floriano, food, Hawaiian honey, honeycomb, Italian honey, Miele di Melata, Ohi'a Lehua Blossom, raw honey, Rosh Hashanah, Smiley Apiaries, tupelo honey | 1 Comment »
Close to the town of Tours in the heart of the Loire Valley, Domaine Pibaleau sits nestled between two of the region’s historic Châteaux: Azay-le-Rideau and Langeais. The 12 hectare Domaine Pibaleau has been family owned and operated since 1886. Here Chenin Blanc, Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Grolleau are grown on organically farmed sandy-clay soil near the banks of the river L’Indre. Domaine Pibaleau has organic certification, and they work according to biodynamic principles.