Last week, Ihsan shared with us a few memories from one of his early cheese sourcing trips – a 1993 trip to the Castelmagno region of Italy. In that post, he described one of his revelatory food experiences: Gnocchi al Castelmagno. Since that trip, he has been working on recreating the dish at home. Here is the current permutation of that recipe, one he says gets pretty close to that amazing, first taste! (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘food’
One of the most memorable trips my wife, Valerie, and I have taken in pursuit of new cheeses was in 1993. We traveled to Castelmagno, home to the famous Italian cheese of the same name. Located on the very northwest fringes of Italy, Castelmagno is a small commune or municipality, consisting of several hamlets. We were invited to visit the region by our friend and mentor, Matteo Ascheri. The hamlet we visited had only one albergo (inn) and a total population of 56. Eleven of those inhabitants made Castelmagno.
Matteo, a Piedmontese food and wine authority, is a winemaker and knew everyone in town. On our first day, he organized a lunch for us with several local food producers, including a fellow who crafted hard candies and exotic elixirs. We all ended up having the most amazing lunch in the local albergo’s lunch room. For our first course, we were served lake trout cured in vinegar with mountain bread. The bread was made with flour from our friends at Mulino Marino and ice cold water from a nearby brook. In that one course, we enjoyed flavors and textures we had never experienced before – and it wasn’t even the highlight of the meal.
The trout and bread was followed by the dish of my dreams: Gnocchi al Castelmagno. (more…)
Here are some posts and articles related to food and drink worth a read from various sources on the web:
- The Truth on Olive Oil Health - a post from Tom Mueller about Dr. Mary Flynn and her work to “…start separating the wheat from the chaff in olive oil health, by building a canon of solid scientific information, and debugging a number of widespread olive oil misconceptions.”
- How to Eat a Porcupine - not only one of the best post titles but a beautifully written travelogue about the emotional progression of eating bushmeat in a foreign land. (more…)
Posted in Breads, Crackers & Snacks, Food History, France, Producer Profile, tagged Apollonia Poilâne, bread, food, Ibu Poilâne, Lionel Poilâne, pain au levain, Pain Poilâne, Pierre Poilâne, Poilâne bread on March 29, 2013 | 5 Comments »
If you love good bread, chances are you will be familiar with the name Poilâne. We started working with Lionel Poilâne in the mid-90s, flying his bread in each week to supply a small, but growing group of customers who had developed a taste for his dense and flavorful bread while traveling abroad. Since the ”Ici Pain Poilâne” sign went up in our shop, the demand for this famed French bread has steadily increased.
Poilâne was founded in 1932 by Pierre Poilâne, Lionel’s father. Originally from Normandy, he opened his bakery in the 6th Arrondissement in Paris. In 1978, at the age of 28, Lionel assumed control of the company from his father. He went on to supervise the growth of the company and played a key role in defending France’s bread heritage and traditional methods of baking. In 2002, Lionel and his wife, Ibu, were tragically killed in a helicopter accident. Their daughter, Apollonia, took over the business and ran this Parisian institution from just down the street – in her Harvard dorm room. Today, Apollonia continues to helm Poilâne’s operations, stringently maintaining standards, keeping the product line focused and adhering to the artisan traditions established by her grandfather, Pierre.
Poilâne’s pain au levain, inscribed with a beautiful cursive “P,” is the bakery’s best known loaf – sometimes referred to simply as Pain Poilâne. Each loaf is made with only four ingredients – sourdough, flour, water and Guérande sea salt – and weighs about 4-lbs. They are baked in Poilâne’s “manufactory,” located in Bièvres, a suburb just outside of Paris where the wood-burning ovens operate 24-hours a day. The resulting bread is crusty, beautifully fragrant, dense yet porous and keeps very well (for a week if refrigerated).
These days, we receive our weekly shipment of Poilâne bread every Thursday and, in addition to the pain au levain, we bring in Poilâne’s currant and walnut loaves. Pain Poilane is delicious simply with a smear of salted French butter (a favorite snack of Ihsan, Formaggio Kitchen’s owner), or as Apollonia Poilâne likes to eat it, with soft-boiled eggs!
We are able to special order larger quantities of Poilâne breads for customers. Special orders require one week advance notice — and, for planning purposes, please note that our shipment from Poilâne arrives every Thursday. Please call our shop in Cambridge at 617-354-4750 and ask for the bread counter for details and pricing. If you are not local to our Cambridge shop, please place orders for Poilâne bread online.
At this time of year, customers often pop into the shop looking for cocoa – whether for baking a dense chocolate torte or for a warming cup of hot cocoa after hours of shoveling. There are a few different type of cocoa available and we thought it would be helpful to shed a bit of light on the differences.
What is cocoa?
Cocoa is the result of processing raw cacao seeds into what is called cocoa mass or cocoa liquor. Cocoa mass is made up of roughly equal parts cocoa solids and cocoa butter. When you buy a chocolate bar it often has a percentage figure on it. If, for example, the label indicates 75%, that means the bar is made up of 75% cocoa mass and unless other ingredients are mixed in, 25% sugar. If you’ve ever had a taste of 100% cocoa mass, you know how important the sugar is to counterbalance the natural acidity and tannic quality of the pure cocoa. In some cases, a bit of extra cocoa butter may be added to give the chocolate a smoother textural dimension – a greater melt-in-your-mouth quality. (more…)
Posted in Candy & Confections, Desserts, Produce, Producer Profile, Recipes, tagged Bill Zaiser, blood orange, candied blood orange peel, candied fruit peel, citrus, food, Linda Zaiser, Moro blood oranges, preserving, Rancho del Sol, recipe on March 12, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Last Wednesday morning, as we received our weekly delivery of California produce, the wind was picking up and the clouds were grey and churning – a sure sign of snow on the way. As we hurriedly brought in the fresh greens, jewel-like lemons and first-of-the-season strawberries, the juxtaposition between the impending New England storm and spring produce from California was increasingly apparent. Unpacking a box of Moro blood oranges from Rancho del Sol, I was immediately hit with a rich, balsamic fragrance that was only matched in richness by the oranges’ bright ruby appearance. Having yet to preserve any of this season’s citrus fruit, I immediately decided to snap up a pound to juice and candy. (more…)
Posted in Cheese, Cheesemaking, Food Science, tagged cardoon thistle, Cheese, chymosin, coagulation, curds, fermentation-produced chymosin, food, microbial rennet, pepsin, rennet, vegetable rennet, vegetarian rennet, whey on February 4, 2013 | 1 Comment »
If, as Clifton Fadiman once said, “cheese is milk’s leap toward immortality”, then rennet could be considered the springboard of cheesemaking. Stripped down to its most basic processes, the first steps of cheesemaking involve taking warm milk, adding a starter culture (to convert the lactose in the milk to lactic acid) and adding rennet. The lactic acid begins coagulating the milk in a slow process that yields a delicate curd and some cheeses are still made using this method as the sole form of coagulation. Most cheeses, however, also employ rennet to separate the curds from the whey, speeding up the process and leading to a firmer, more elastic curd. (more…)
Some of our customers may have noticed a new fresh goat milk cheese in our cases. Carolyn Hillman, our go-to fresh chèvre producer for many years, is taking a hiatus from production for the next year or so. While heartbroken about this absence, I am thrilled to be able to support another grande dame of Massachusetts cheesemaking – Susan Sellew of Rawson Brook Farm. Susan is entering her 30th year of production! (more…)
Posted in About Us, Cheese, Christmas, Gift Giving, Gifts & Wares, Grains, Rice, Flours & Beans, Hanukkah, Herbs, Spices, Salts & Peppers, Holiday, Jams & Preserves, Meats & Charcuterie, Olive Oil & Specialty Oils, Pasta, Staff Profiles, Wine, tagged Arraya, Bleu des Basques, Comté, food, food gifts, gift ideas, Ihsan Gurdal, rillettes, robiola, Sainte-Maure Belgique, Saveur du Maquis, Vacherin Mont d'Or, Valerie Gurdal on December 12, 2012 | 4 Comments »
Ihsan and Valerie own and run the Formaggio Kitchen family of stores. As is true of any folks passionate about their jobs, work intertwines throughout all aspects of their lives. Their travels – frequent and far-flung – are largely dictated by the food producers they want to meet or to revisit, by rumors of new and exciting foodstuffs and/or food conferences such as “Cheese,” the biennial Slow Food festival held in Bra, Italy. Their larder and wine cellar are stocked with favorite items they have imported or new items they are testing out. Even when on holiday, they are in direct communication with all three stores, coordinating deliveries from Europe and generally checking to make sure everything is on track. (more…)
Posted in About Us, Christmas, Gift Giving, Gifts & Wares, Hanukkah, Recipes, Salads & Sides, Staff Profiles, tagged Comté Grand Cru, Dario Pozzolo, EH Chocolatier, food, Gruyère Vieux, Jean-Marie Cornille, La Vecchia Dispensa, macarons, Marcel Petite, Melata di Bosco del Roero, Mothais Feuille, olive oil, Raphaël, recipe, Robiola di Capra in Fico, San Giacomo on December 9, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
Many of you may be familiar with Tyler as part of the two-man team behind our BBQ grill this past summer. Some of you may also know him as an instructor in our classroom where he teaches classes such as “Cheese 101″ or “Brave the Caves.” Not many though, will be familiar with his behind-the-scenes role as Cave Manager. On a weekly basis, Tyler maintains the cheeses in our caves – flipping them, rubbing them down to get rid of excess mold or cheese mites and patching cracks as needed (among many other tasks). This is no mean feat when you are handling 80-100lb. wheels of Comté, Gouda, Gruyère, cheddar and Parmigiano Reggiano! (more…)