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!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Cheeky Monkey Coming to the Boston Local Food Festival

Cheeky Monkey is a cute brand with an important message: we can reduce peanut allergies. Cheeky Monkey Peanut Butter Puffs were created by Tzippi Witz, and have been shown to be a good first peanut food to give to infants. 

Recent studies in the New England Journal of Medicine have shown that early exposure to peanuts reduces the incidences of peanut allergies later in life, so a snack like the Peanut Butter Puffs is not only meant to be tasty, but also to do good deeds. 

In addition to being shown to help reduce peanut allergies, Cheeky Monkey Peanut Butter Puffs are certified Organic by USDA, Canada, and the EU standards, as well as certified Gluten-Free, Kosher, and Vegan. They've also been certified by the Rainforest Alliance, Feingold, and RSPO.

For about $30, you can try the Puffs through Amazon, but they'll be here in Boston shortly, on September 18, for the Boston Local Food Festival. I'll definitely be there to check out the Peanut Butter Puffs! 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Farms at the Festival!

This year at the 2016 Boston Local Food Festival, three great local "farms" are participating as vendors. Fresh Box Farms from Millis, Green Line Growers from Brookline, and one that is not actually a farm, Freight Farms, based in Boston.

Freight Farms sells the Leafy Green Machine, basically a farm-in-a-box made from a 40' x 8' x 9.5' shipping container. It allows farmers to recreate any sort of environment needed to grow their crops, year round. There's even an app available for farmers to manage their farm from anywhere in the world! 

Green Line Growers actually uses Freight Farms' products to hydroponically grow their produce. They are able to grow lettuce, kale, arugula, chard, and a few other vegetables, which they sell to local restaurants.

Another local hydroponic farm is Fresh Box Farms. They produce over thirty different types of plants, but are currently focusing on heirloom lettuces, spinach, arugula, and herbs. 

Coming up in just a few weeks, the Boston Local Food Festival will be on the Greenway on September 18, 2016. It'll be a great chance to check out these local "farms". 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Shuckin' Truck at the Boston Local Food Festival

The 2016 Boston Local Food Festival is coming up soon! The festival is scheduled for September 18th from 11 am to 5 pm on the Greenway. 

New to the festival this year is the Shuckin' Truck, bringing fresh seafood and a raw bar to the event. The Shuckin' Truck is known for being a family business, supplying their fish from the Roebuck family fishing vessels and their oysters from another family business, Salt Pond Oysters. The oysters are sustainably grown and harvested year round in Point Judith, Rhode Island. 

 While the oysters are available year round, the rest of the menu changes based on what fish are seasonably available. Throughout the year, they offer dishes such as a sea scallop roll, mango lobster tacos, and the family's traditional lobster rolls. 

I'm pretty excited to try out the seafood at the Shuckin' Truck while I'm at the Festival this year!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cheese Tuesday at L'Espalier - Italian Vacation

Last night I had a wonderful dinner at L'Espalier with some good friends. The theme of the night was Italian Vacation, so all of the wines were from Italy and the courses were Italian dishes. 

Our first course was confit Cape Ann tuna with fresh bean salad, aioli, and crispy shallots. It was paired with 2015 Valenti "Poesia", a rosé from Etna. I thought the dish tasted like a tuna fish sandwich!

Fruits de mer with tagliatelle and heirloom tomato broth was up next, paired with 2013 I Pentri "Flora" from Falanghina Beneventano. It was a great pairing, bringing out the best of both the soup and the wine. 

Our third course was roasted Giannone Farms chicken with eggplant risotto and onion jus, paired with 2013 Pelissero, a Nebbiolo from Langhe. I thought at first that the wine might overpower the chicken, but the heaviness of the eggplant risotto was able to completely stand up to the Nebbiolo. 

The Grand Fromage cheese plate finished up the evening. I was feeling fairly stuffed at this point, but I can't say no to cheese on Cheese Tuesday, so of course I tried everything! Along with the cheese plate was our final wine for the evening, 2014 Maschio dei Cavalieri, a Prosecco Superiore from Valdobbiadene. 

We continued the Italian Vacation theme through the cheese plate, beginning with Pecorino di Pienza Fresco, a sheep's milk cheese from Fratelli Putzulu in Monefollonico, Tuscany. This was good, but I greatly preferred the Robiola 3 latti, a cheese made of a mix of cow, goat, and sheep's milk by Luigi Guffanti in Piedmont. Louis Risoli, the ever-brilliant Fromager, served fresh berries with the Robiola, and it was everything I could have wanted in a cheese plate. 

Bufaletto, a cheese made of a mix of cow and water buffalo milks, from Defendi in Lombardy was up next, followed by Camembert dell'Alta Langa. This was my second favorite cheese of the night, and it was another mix of three milks: cow, sheep, and goat; mixed to perfection by Luigi Guffanti in Piedmont. Then it was on to Caprotto, from Casa Madaia on the Amalfi Coast of Campania.

We finished the night with a few flavor-added cheeses. Moliterno al tartufo, a sheep's milk cheese made with truffle in Sardinia, was up first, and Erbornato Sancarlone Caffe, a cow's milk cheese with coffee from Luigi Guffanti in Piedmont, finished off the plate. Then we sang the "Italian Cheese Song" to the tune of "Supercallafragilisticexpialladoceous".