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Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

Carquinyolis Sant Quintí de Mediona

Carquinyolis Sant Quintí de Mediona

It’s easy to love Barcelona. Whenever Ihsan and I visit, we spend 90% of our time wandering from one tapas place to another. A little glass of cava and some sardines here, a fluffy golden tortilla Española there, clams as tiny as a fingernail smothered in garlic and wine, grilled octopus, fried rabbit ribs, platters of jamón. (more…)

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Xocolates Aynouse l'Artesà - Olive Oil and Candied Orange Peel Bars

Xocolates Aynouse l’Artesà – Olive Oil and Candied Orange Peel Bars

In February 2013, while Ihsan and I were visiting our friend Pere Planagumà (head chef at the restaurant Les Cols in Olot, Catalonia), we stopped in the ancient historic city of Girona for a food show and discovered chocolate maker Francisco Javier “Xavi” Rodriquez Perez. Actually, Xavi recognized us — he used to be the chocolatier for another Catalan chocolate company. It was a nice reunion seeing Xavi and to learn that he decided to open his own company Xocolates Aynouse l’Artesà in the town of Agramunt. (more…)

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Extremadura, Spain

I recently had the opportunity to attend a small festival of food producers in the Extremadura region of Spain with fellow food buyers representing small shops as well as large distributors from around the world. I had never been to Spain before and was thrilled to be able to visit a country with such a rich and diverse culinary history – and to be able to discover new and delicious products for our stores. (more…)

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El Maestro Sierra Amontillado SherrySherry (“Xerez” in Spanish) is made in the region of the same name on the southern tip of Spain near Gibraltar. There, Palomino grapes are grown on chalky soils called albariza. The grapes are fermented into dry wines, then fortified and placed into large, 500L oak barrels. Some of these barrels develop a thick layer of yeast called flor (literally “flower”).

Flor is naturally occurring, unpredictable, and can’t be induced or controlled once it occurs! When it does form, the wine ages underneath without oxidizing, resulting in what is known as a fino Sherry. If the flor forms, but then dies off or doesn’t develop, the wine, if deemed rich and robust enough, is fortified a bit more and then allowed to slowly oxidize and become an amontillado. If a flor does not form at all, the wine will be fortified further and will be aged in wooden barrels to become a richer and darker oloroso Sherry. In the case of amontillado and oloroso styles of Sherry, exposure to oxygen turns the wine a coppery color, and encourages the development of toasty, nutty aromas. Yum. (more…)

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This wine captures the essence of Summer and SeaWhen Valerie, Ihsan and I visited the Ameztoi Winery in October of last year, rosé season was months away. Now a cool but sunny April has arrived and with it has come our first shipment of Ameztoi Rubentis Rosado*.

Ameztoi is one among a cluster of wineries perched high in the hills of the Getaria province of Spain, overlooking the Atlantic ocean. On a clear day, you can see the city of San Sebastián from Ameztoi’s vineyards.

Ignacio Ameztoi is a 7th generation winemaker. He and his enormous German Shepherd gave us a personal tour of the family winery – a pretty building completely surrounded by grapevines with a stunning view of the Atlantic. Ameztoi’s vines are quite old, many 150 years or older. (more…)

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Manchego cheese from Quesos Villadiego: Añejo and Semi Curado.

Manchego cheese from Quesos Villadiego: Añejo (left) and Semi Curado (right)

A week ago, we received our first shipment of Manchego cheese from the Villadiego estate in Spain.

Villadiego is an artisan, farmhouse producer of Manchego cheese and this is the first time their cheeses have been shipped to the US. We are really excited about these Manchegos – they are exclusive to the shop and they taste amazing! (more…)

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Cheese of the Week: Ombra

Ombra - an aged sheep milk cheese from Spain

Ombra - aged sheep milk cheese from Spain

You likely know Manchego and perhaps even Garrotxa, two of the most popular Spanish cheeses sold in the U.S.  but you may not know Hailey’s cheese pick this week: Ombra.  As a new member of the Formaggio Kitchen team, Hailey was immediately taken with Ombra’s firm texture, beautiful ash-colored rind and mildly sharp flavor of dried grass, herbs and fresh sheep milk.

Ombra Sheep Milk Cheese from SpainOmbra is produced by Josep Cuixart in the Spanish region of Catalunya or Catalonia.  It is aged for about 6 to 8 months and we frequently allow it to ripen a bit longer in our caves.  We like it when it has developed a fully nutty sweetness and has an interior paste interspersed with crunchy protein crystals.  The name Ombra means shadow and we suppose it is in reference to the lightly molded rind that gives the exterior of the cheese a grayish hue.

Wheels of Ombra CheeseAs usual the cheese of the week can be found up at the check out area of our store and is also available on our website.

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Mahón is a semi-firm cows milk cheese from the Spanish island of Menorca. The flavor profile and consistency depends on not only the producer’s specific recipe but also their preferred age profile.  As Mahón ages, it loses moisture and the flavors become concentrated.  A young Mahón from a larger producer tends to have a uniform semi-firm texture inside a bright orange rind.  It has milder flavors with hints of the salt and hay that develop more intensity as it ages.  The Mahón we carry (and the one we prefer) is from a smaller producer and has a flakier, though still creamy texture and a more distinct farminess that balances perfectly with the flavors of salt (imagine pasture near sea spray buffeted coastline!), butter and fruit flavors.  The cheese of the week can be found at the register.

Mahon Cheese from MenorcaMahon Cheese from Menorca

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