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Posts Tagged ‘France’

Ekiola Sheep in the Pyrenees Mountains

Ekiola Sheep in the Pyrénées Mountains

A trip through the French Basque country is one of distinct sights, scents, and flavors. Rolling hills of green pastures are punctuated by craggy mountain peaks and deep valleys, and sheep are everywhere! When Ihsan, Valerie and I traveled through the area in the fall, we tasted a huge array of sheep milk cheeses and an assortment of intense but beautiful wines. Here, we’re featuring a few of our favorite tastes: Ardi Gasnas from Fromagerie Pardou and Ekiola, and a killer red wine from Domaine Ilarria of Irouléguy. Ardi Gasna (or gazna) is Basque for “sheep cheese,” and these smooth, rich sheep cheeses are a specialty in the Pyrénées mountains.

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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. (more…)

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Tripp and Andrew at Fromageries Marcel Petite

At Fromageries Marcel Petite

Landing in Geneva, our first day began auspiciously with 65°F blue skies and a new convertible (our reserved sedan was unavailable) to drive us west into the Jura. Tripp (domestic cheese buyer for our Cambridge shop), and Sarah (Tripp’s counterpart at the South End), and I marveled at the snow-capped mountains in the eastern distance and how the yellow brilliance of patched rapeseed fields rested calmly in their spaces. The three of us were in France to visit with cheesemakers and food producers, checking in with old friends and making new ones. Climbing up into the hills, we arrived at our first destination, Fromageries Marcel Petite at Fort St. Antoine. (more…)

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Alexandre Chartogne

Alexandre Chartogne

At Formaggio Kitchen South End, we stock only small grower Champagnes made by winemakers who grow their own grapes. Chartogne-Taillet is one of our favorites! This small winery is located in the Champagne region of France in the town of Merfy and is that town’s only récoltant-manipulant, meaning that they are the only winery in town that grows their own grapes. To spot a grower Champagne when shopping, look for the letters RM for récoltant-manipulant on the label. (You will see the letters NM for négociant-manipulant on the labels of Champagnes that are made by larger producers who buy most of their grapes.) (more…)

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Sainte-Maure Belgique

Sainte-Maure Belgique

There are a few things one learns pretty quickly as a cheesemonger. Among them are that brebis generally come from the Pyrenées and small-format goat cheeses are closely associated with the Loire Valley. Of course, there are exceptions but, as general rules, these guidelines have served me pretty well. (more…)

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Dolin Vermouths

Summer is the perfect time to acquaint yourself with the newest addition to our little family of wines from the Savoie: Dolin Vermouths.

Dolin has been making vermouth in Chambéry, France since 1821. Vermouth de Chambéry is actually the only AOC for vermouth in France, and Dolin is the last remaining independent Vermouth de Chambéry producer. Dolin starts with a light base white wine (no more than 10% alcohol) and then fortifies with sugar and infuses it with dozens of the local Alpine plants that grow in the hills above Chambéry. (more…)

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Persillé de Tignes

It’s sad to say, but farmstead cheeses are disappearing in France. As the cheese buyer for Formaggio Kitchen, I do what I can to make sure this does not happen. This is why I feel compelled to highlight the last remaining producer of Persillé de Tignes and to share my love of this cheese. (more…)

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