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!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Cheese Tuesday at L'Espalier - American Cheese Society 2016 Competition Winners

Last night, I treated myself to a cheese dinner based around the winners of the 2016 American Cheese Society Competition. We began with an end of summer salad with buffalo mozzarella, paired with 2015 Patricia Green Sauvignon Blanc from the Willamette Valley. I also ordered a pot of the Anniversary Blend, my favorite tea. 
Our second course was East Coast halibut with native sweet corn, chanterelles, and lime, paired with 2013 Analemma Gewurztraminer from Columbia Gorge.  This was probably my favorite course of the evening.  
Long Island duck breast with salt roasted sweet potato, brioche dressing, Abalone mushrooms, and black garlic was up next, served with 2014 Domaine Cagueloup Cuvée Minette from Cotes de Provence. I couldn't get enough of the sweet potatoes, they were so good. 
Le Colture Fagher Prosecco from Valdobbiadene paired well with the mix of award-winning cheeses on our plates. 
The first cheese was Little Mountain by Roelli Cheese Company in Lafayette Country, Wisconsin. This cheese won Best in Show. 

The next four cheeses won Best Soft Ripened Cheese in a record setting four way tie! Up first was Moses Sleeper from Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, Vermont, followed by Harbison, also from Jasper Hill. Mountain Ash was up next, from Sweet Rowan Farm in West Glover, Vermont, followed by Ashley, from Mouco Cheese in Fort Collins, Colorado.

 We finished the evening with my two favorite cheeses, St. Malachi Reserve from The Farm at Doe Run in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and Buff Blue, from Bleating Heart Creamery in Point Reyes, California. It was so cool to hear about the behind the scenes action at the American Cheese Society, and to see actual grading sheets used by the judges!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

France vs Italy at Formaggio Kitchen

France and Italy are widely considered the top tier of culinary cultures. So why not pit them against each other in a culinary competition? We all win that way! We began with the arugula and frisée salad with Bucheron crostini and red wine vinaigrette from France, and followed it with an Italian Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, Saba, and agrumato. 

The first round paired Valençay wine and cheese. Valençay cheese is a goat's milk cheese from the Loire Valley of France, and here it was served with Lo Brusc Tilleul honey. On the Italian side, we had Robiola Roccaverano from Piedmont served with a Sicilian mandarin orange marmalade. It was paired with Tiberio Trebbiano d'Abruzzo wine from Abruzzo, Italy.

Round two for France moved us from goat's milk to sheep, with Ekiola Ardi Gasna from Pays Basque, France. The cheese was served with Arraya Confiture de Cerises and Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouche Brut from Normandy, which was my favorite beverage of the entire evening. Italy served up Sola a Tre Latte, a cheese made from cow, goat, and sheep's milk cheeses in Piedmont, Italy. It was paired with mostarda Mediterranea and Castaldi Lucia Bianco '12 wine, also from Piedmont. 

The third round introduced meats into the equation, and also wound up being the first spot in the entire contest where France tripped up, for me at least. Up until this point, France was my clear favorite every time, but as much as I loved the Comte Le Fort, a cow's milk cheese from Jura, France, served with Jambon du Bayonne and Moutarde de Piment Espelette and paired with Bourdy Cotes du Jura Rouge 2011, I loved the Italian offering more. Pecorino di Pienza Gran Riserva, a sheep's milk cheese from Tuscany, Italy, served with Prosciutto Pio Tosini 18 month and fresh figs and paired with Unlitro IGT, also from Tuscany, was just so amazing.

When it came to the dessert round, I couldn't decide which I favored, as I enjoyed both equally! The French dessert had a heavier taste, while the Italian dessert was light, but both were delicious. Up first was France, with fresh fig clafoutis and Fourme d'Ambert with Bonal Gentiane Quina digestiv, followed by Italy's Ricotta cake with lemon-thyme-honey glaze, pine nuts, and whipped ricotta, paired with Elio Perrone Moscato d'Asti. Overall, France won for me!