Sunday, December 4, 2016

Cheese Tuesday at L'Espalier - Mary Had a Little Lamb: The Wide World of Sheep's Milk Cheese

This past Tuesday it was time for another fabulous dinner at L'Espalier. The theme this month was sheep's milk cheese, and I had been practicing the song of the evening, "Make it Cheesy", for a few days.

We began with a game terrine of squab, pheasant, and foie gras, served with quince and poached fig. I generally prefer the texture of pâté rather than terrine, but this was really good. The rosé, 2015 Pala "Chiaro di Stelle" from Sardinia, was amazing, too, and handpicked for the course by the Cork Dork of the evening, Nick. His wine choices left our entire table impressed all evening!

Up next was Georges Bank cod with bonito butter, hakurei turnips, and shimeji, paired with 2015 Bella's "Caldera" from Falaghina, Campania.

We were then onto the sweet and sour roasted duck with apple and parsnip, some of my favorite fall flavors. It was paired perfectly with the very fruity 2012 D. Ventura "Viña Caniero" from Riberia Sacra, Galicia.

Mary had a little lamb was the theme of the Grand Fromage, and all of these amazing sheep's milk cheeses were paired with a tasty port, 15-year Valdespino "Isabela", an Oloroso from Pedro Ximenez in Jerez.

Louis' cheese plate really shined this month! We began with Odre from Can Pujol in Catalan, Spain, which was my favorite, and then went on to San Andreas from Bellwether Farms in Sonoma, California. After that, we stayed with the more firm style seen here in Paglierino from Casa Madaio in Campania, Italy, and Erraizabal Idiazabal from the Basque region of Spain.

Pico Melero from Duero, Spain, was next, followed by Torta de Barros from Extremadura, Spain. Cheese Guy Louis Risoli finished the plate with two big blues: Ewe's Blue by Old Chatham Sheepherding Company in Chatham, New York, and Roquefort by Papillon Black Label in Rouerge, France.

Shortly thereafter it was time for me to grab my guitar and my cheese band. We rocked out as the room sang along to "Make It Cheesy". Then we finished the evening by accepting our payment- two delicious desserts to share! We tried the spiced torte with cranberry cream cheese mousse and rosemary roasted apple ice cream and the Black Hole: four dimensions of chocolate with black sesame asteroids and a cranberry-orange sun.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Cheese Tuesday at L'Espalier - Climb Every Mountain: Alpine Cheese

Almost two weeks ago L'Espalier had a celebration of Alpine cheese, and I was fortunate enough to be in attendance! 
The night began with Warm Farm beets with Vermont fresh chèvre, hibiscus gelée, hazelnut, and crisps, served with 2012 Luc Massy "La Crosse". La Crosse is made from Chasselas grapes in Lavaux, Vaud, Switzerland. 
East Coast halibut was up next, with sweet corn, chanterelles, and lime. This was very similar to a previous month's offerings, and was paired with 2012 Robert Mondavi "Oakville", a Fumé Blanc from Napa, California. This was not your typical Robert Mondavi wine, and it paired perfectly with the preparation of the halibut.

For our third course, we had Giannone Farms chicken with boudin Blanc, new potato two ways and roasted pepper compote. This was paired with 2009 Francos-Espanolas "Bordon", a Reserva Rioja from Spain.

Finally, we were on to the Grand Fromage, a celebration of Alpine cheeses, paired with 2013 Vins de Vienne by Saint Joseph in Rhône, France.

Beaufort Chalet d'Alpage from Savoie, France, was up first, followed by one of my favorites, Challerhocker from Togenburg, Switzerland. Then it was on to Monte Veronese Malga, DOP, from Veneto, Italy. 

Then we were back to France for Comte St. Antoine from the Jura region. We finished up back in Switzerland for cave aged Gruyere and Etivaz, from Vaud.

After indulging in the delicious cheeses, I tuned up my guitar and we all sang "I'm a moo cow grazing in a meadow" to the tune of "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" from The Sound of Music. As a reward for my performance, the fabulous Louis Risoli treated me to the dessert Black Hole: four dimensions of chocolate with black sesame asteroids and a cranberry-orange sun.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Fall Favorites - King Richard's Faire

One of my favorite things to do every fall is to get down to Carver and check out King Richard's Faire. It's definitely something I look forward to all year during the off season, and after reading this post, you'll understand why. 
King Richard's Faire is exciting! From the jugglers to the joust, there's always something going on. My favorite shows are probably the big cats and the Mud Show, but everything is good.
Even the food is pretty good. In the past, I've gone with a chowder bowl for lunch. This year, I discovered how good a deal dragon's wings and fryes were, so that was pretty much my go-to meal. At least once, though, you have to try a turkey leg!
King Richard's Faire is a feast for the eyes as well, with different spots to check out, games to play, and awesome wares to inspect. This year, I finally purchased a whole outfit, and I'm pretty excited to wear it back year after year!
As you can see, it's a wicked fun fall time. There's one weekend left this year, and then we'll all have next year to look forward to!

The Local Craft Spirits Festival

Yesterday, I checked out the Sustainable Business Network's Local Craft Spirits Festival. It was a slightly chilly day, and my friend and I managed to arrive to the outdoors festival just after five pm. 
We high-tailed it to the Cocktail Throwdown area, to catch as much of the competition as possible. The most interesting of the drinks, and my favorite, was the one pictured above; I believe it was called the Bee Sting. It incorporated honey and was delicious without being overly sweet. 
It was a nice, brisk day, so we didn't want to stay too long. We made sure to hit up a few different vendors, however, like Damnation Alley (good bourbon!) and Stowe Cider. I loved the High & Dry Cider they brought to the festival. We even managed to try Bootblack Brand's Cranberry, Jalapeño, and Lime mix, which was tart and tasty. 
All in all, it was a cool event. I'm definitely going to look out for some of the different brands at the store, like Privateer Rum and Bully Boy Distillery. I'd like to try the Sam Adams 20 Pounds of Pumpkin again, too!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Bootblack Brand Complex Cocktail and Soda Syrups

I spoke recently with Paul Kubiski, owner of Bootblack Brand. He works out of the Hope & Main Food Incubator in Warren, Rhode Island, to create his complex cocktail and soda syrups. 
Bootblack Brand was created in 2015 with the idea of mixing small batches of cocktail syrups that had big flavors. Paul said that while lamenting the cost of cocktails compared to the quality of the ingredients, he had the idea to create a properly complex syrup that could be used at home to create tastier drinks. From this came Bootblack Brand, named for the ages-old ideal of creating hand-made products earnestly and with enthusiasm. 
Bootblack Brand is available in Rhode Island currently, and comes in two flavors: Ginger Cardamom Lime and Cranberry Jalapeño Lime. They recommend mixing one part Bootblack Brand, two parts spirits, and three parts seltzer or soda to create a balanced cocktail. I'd like to try both, but am definitely more interested in the Cranberry Jalapeño Lime!
Fortunately for me, I'll get to try both styles of Bootblack Brand Cocktail Syrups at next week's Local Craft Spirits Festival. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Fall Cocktail Recipes

The Local Craft Spirits Festival is coming up soon! The festival is scheduled for October 15, 2016, in Cambridge, and includes three hours of unlimited tastings, live music, and local food available for purchase. Tickets are available at In honor of such a cool event, I thought I would post a few cool fall cocktail recipes I found on some of the participating vendors' websites! 
I'm enjoying this delicious pumpkin cider as I write; Downeast's Pumpkin Blend comes with the interesting directions across the top to shake hard, then count to ten and open slowly. This is to mix in any pumpkin that may have settled in the drink, which is very tasty. Stowe Cider, based out of Vermont, will be at the festival. I'm not sure which ciders they will bring as samples, but I hope they bring Tips Up, the Rum Ginger Hard Cider, and the High and Dry.   At the website of Boston Harbor Distillery, they recommend a few 'Fall Classic' cocktails, including the Downeastah, by Beth Herron. This includes an oz. of Putnam New England Rye, 1/2 oz. lemon juice, 1/2 oz. simple syrup, and two dashes of Fee Brothers Barrel Aged Whiskey Bitters. Then the cocktail is topped off with Downeast Original Cider, and they recommend an apple peel rose as a garnish. 
Molly's Irish Cream liqueur now has a pumpkin spice variety seasonally available, so for any cocktails that contain Irish cream, if you'd like to make them more seasonally-appropriate, you can!
Another option for adding a little pumpkin spice to your cocktails is Fulton's Harvest, a pumpkin pie flavored liqueur. If you're anything like me, though, you prefer cranberry to pumpkin, when it comes to fall flavors. I'm more likely to try a Craneberry Coder, a drink on the GrandTen Distillery page. It's made of 1.5 oz Craneberry liqueur, 1 oz vodka, and .5 oz lime juice, and then topped off with soda water. 
If you prefer rum, there are definitely fall options for you! Captain Morgan's just released their new pumpkin flavored rum, and, more locally, Privateer Rum has plenty of cocktail suggestions on their website. I'd like to try the Light & Stormy, a mix of 2 oz Privateer Silver Reserve, 4 oz good ginger beer, and 3 or 4 basil leaves. Given that many of the producers that I mentioned here will be there, I'm definitely looking forward to the local craft spirits festival on October 15!