Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 598 : Rosh Hashanah Dinner and of course Rosh Hashanah Cheeses as well

Wednesday evening my family gathered together for a celebratory Rosh Hashanah dinner to welcome in the Jewish New Year. So what did we have?

We started with apples and honey to ring in a sweet New Year and my mother's homemade challah. The roundness of the bread symbolizes the cycle of a year.

Then we moved on to a "quinoa aux sept legumes," a different vegetable for each day of the week -- rustic and earthy yet totally flavorful and light. The quinoa was served with a homemade matcha crusted halibut which just melted in your mouth. The crunch of the matcha crust was the perfect counterpart to the smoothness of the fish.

After quinoa, we moved onto salad and cheese. The salad was made with pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin, and of course a nice selection of greens. Both pumpkins and pomegranates are traditional Rosh Hashanah foods and in this salad they played off of one another in the most excellent savory and sweet duel. With the salad we had a selection of three cheeses all purchased last weekend at Cowgirl Creamery in Washington DC:

1. River's Edge Chevre's Mayor of Nye Beach -- the washed rind goat's milk stinker we discussed last week. Funky, barnyardy, creamy and totally unique.
2. Firefly Farm's Cabra La Mancha -- Hailing from Accident, Maryland, this cheese surely isn't an accident. Loosely based on a Spanish washed rind goat's milk tomme, this cheese is washed with b.linens creating the cheese's orange exterior hue with a bright white firm interior paste. This cheese is the perfect marriage of lactic milky, grassy citrusy notes and the rustic barnyardy-ness from the washing.
3. Old Man Highlander -- Hailing from Honesdale, PA, this firm cow's milk gouda style cheese is all smooth buttery notes, round around the edges in just the perfect way.

To go with the cheese there were red wine peppercorn marinated fresh figs and of course the homemade challah.

And lastly for dessert, a homemade almond milk date, sesame seed, nut pannacotta. Earthy and delish, not too sweet but the perfect way to end our celebratory meal.

A delish meal made with my mother's love and care -- a great way to ring  in the New Year!
Here's to a healthy and happy one for all!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 597 : How to Save / How to Splurge Dispatch # 31

Checked out Beecher's Cheese yet perhaps to buy last week's cheese splurge? Did you venture downstairs to the Cellar, their wine and cheese bar? Well if you haven't....I suggest you head on over between 5 and 7pm on a weekday so that you can save on your beverages!

Between 5 and 7pm you can get a $5 glass of either red or white wine or a $6 cocktail. That gives you the opportunity to splurge on their cheese selections or their mac n' cheese if you are in the mood. $15 will get you a selection of their three Flagship cheeses. So go with a friend and for under $15 each you can have a glass of wine and three great artisanal cheeses, how could you do better? That's quite the steal if you ask me...

The Cellar @ Beechers
900 Broadway

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 596 : Cheese Spy Strikes Again

It's been quite a while since we've had a cheese spy dispatch so I thought why not change things up and bring you a cheese spy dispatch direct from Alba.

Need to brush up on your geography and not sure where Alba is?

It's in the Piedmont region in Italy and is known for their white truffle, peach, and wine production.

So what wines are they known for?

DOC: Barbera, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo.

DOCG: Barbaresco, Moscato.

Where does our cheese spy recommend?

Well folks it is the Trattoria del Peso. Only open for lunch. And only from Tuesday to Sunday. Located at Via Vezza 3, Castagnito.

What's great about it?

It's one of those locals only sorts of joints -- authentic and fresh homemade food in a casual setting. It is so popular tables turn over two or even three times during lunch.

Take a look at their cheese doesn't that make you want to hop on the next plane to Italy and get out of this miserable grey weather?


Day 595 : SCS Version 8.0, Dispatch # 2

A little late...but this week's dosage of our SCS spotlight is here now!

For week two of Oregon and Canada, I thought we would go with a stinky, pungent, moldy, and all around fabulous blue cheese from each locale so let's get right to it.

When you think of Oregon if you are a fan of American artisanal cheeses, perhaps you think of Rogue River Creamery? I know I certainly do. Rogue River Creamery has been in existence since the 1930s crafting Cheddars that were shipped overseas to the troops fighting on the front lines in World War II. At the end of WWII, Tom Vella and the team behind Rogue River introduced a cottage cheese to the lineup and then a few years later, he decided to add a blue cheese as well. And folks from there, the rest is history. Tom Vella and his family crafted award winning blue cheeses respected the country and world over until Tom died at age 100 in 1998. The Creamery since 1998 has changed hands a few times but fret not their blue cheeses are still among the best I have had. They make six distinct types of blue cheese -- Caveman, Oregonzola, Rogue River Blue, Rogue River Smokey Blue, Crater Lake, and Oregon Blue. Of all of their selections, my favorite is definitely the Rogue River Blue. Raw cow's milk blue cheese aged for approximately a year wrapped in grape leaves soaked in pear eau de vie, this cheese is an excellent example of what Orgeon artisanal cheesemakers have to offer. Its dense and creamy punchy yet smooth and spicy, earthy, vegetal, and rustic with a sweetness to it. A delight in cheese form!

And what of it's Canadian counterpart?

How about Baby Blue from Moonstruck Cheese located on Saltspring Island in British Columbia. Granted, Moonstruck does not have decades of history on their side like Rogue River, but the two women behind the cheesemaking operation have been producing cheese since 1998 and now make nine certified organic cheeses. Modeled on a Cambozola style cheese, part triple cream as in a Camembert and part Gorgonzola, Baby Blue is more cream and less blue. Yes there's still the spicy punch of the blue which does an excellent job at breaking up the sweet and smooth buttery creamy raw cow's milk interior. A great cheese to introduce you to the excellence of Canadian organic cheese production!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 594: Mussels and Cheese?

Flex Mussels opened to great fanfare in 2009. No folks it is not a gym where you can flex your biceps and triceps but a restaurant dedicated to mussels. And surely not just the classic mussels in a white wine butter sauce, they have seventeen different mussel preparations! Yes they have other items on the menu -- salads, and a wide selection of seafood and one chicken dish for those not interested in seafood. Maybe the name rings a bell because the pastry chef won Top Chef Desserts? If not and you like mussels it sure is worth a try!

I have been a few times to the downtown one which I love but tonight I went to the uptown one for the first time. What did I think about the difference in appearance? This one was homier and cozier, tucked away on a quiet Upper East Side street, this joint felt like it was geared to the weekly regulars, a true neighborhoody establishment.

I had their PARMA mussels that were served in a broth of parmigiano cream, meyer lemon, scallions, toasted garlic and shallots. A salty, creamy and savory broth to accompany the mussels that enhanced their weight but still maintain a light delicate decadence. It almost felt like the French Onion Soup of the mussel world but in a good way.

Flex Mussels
174 East 82nd Street / 154 West 13th Street NYC

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 593: Party Cheeses

When you go to a large function, be it a wedding, a holiday party, a birthday party, or a bar mitzvah as I did last night, you hardly expect to see a table of artisanal cheeses as part of the buffet food selections. Well last night at the bar mitzvah reception, there was a slider station with a variety of sliders (both meat and fish); a carving station (also both meat and fish); a pasta / risotto to order station; a Middle Eastern station with all the classic staples hummus, tabbouleh, Grape leaves, Greek salad and more; and a fantastic cheese station.

This was not your average cheese selection with Cheddars, Gruyeres, Chevre, and maybe a blue or something of the sort. Epoisses was there, Great Hill Blue was there, the Massachusetts goat's milk round Hubbardston Blue was there, Morbier, Humboldt Fog, Bucheron, and many more. Paired with marinated figs and a selection of three jams, this was a display after my heart.

Overall a delish meal and that's a tough undertaking when cooking and serving over one hundred people. Apart from the meal, it was a lovely weekend in DC celebrating the bar mitzvah of a family member.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 592: When in DC...

I absolutely have to go to Cowgirl Creamery -- the only East Coast outpost of one of my favorite California creameries. Known for their fresh cheeses and bloomy rind triple creams, Cowgirl also offers a variety of local, national, and international cheeses.

On my visit there today I discovered a new cheese for me-

River's Edge Mayor of Nye Beach. It is a washed rind goat's milk cheese from Oregon. Washed in Rogue Dead Guy Ale, this cheese does not have that classic washed rind feel, smoother and nuttier on the exterior with a delightfully bright semi-firm interior paste. A rustic earthy goat's milk cheese that delights on the tongue. This is the sort of cheese that would be great to have with a group of friends and some medium bodied white wine or even a beer.

Visits to Cowgirl always allow for me to discover something new. So if you're in DC and haven't ever been, go check it out, just not on a Sunday as they are closed...

Cowgirl Creamery
919 F Street NW
Washington DC

Day 591: You can't go wrong with the classics....

In the past few days I've had two notable classic cheese pairings and each time I've been quite happy...sometimes going with a tried and true option is truly enjoyable...I am quite a fan of thinking outside of the box but these instances have been delish and satisfying in every way.

What are these classic cheese pairings I speak of you might be wondering-

Well two nights ago I dined with friends and had the restaurant's take on a caprese salad -- thick slices of fresh heirloom tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella with a homemade spicy pesto sandwiched between each layer and EVOO and aged balsamic vinegar drizzled over the top. Creamy, fresh mozzarella paired with the lusciousness of in season tomatoes, how could you go wrong there?

And last night, at a family event, a simple butter lettuce, pepper rubbed goat's milk cheese and dried cherries salad was a delight.

Classic cheese pairings done well always puts a smile on my face.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 590 : How to Save / How to Splurge Dispatch #30

In the mood to splurge a bit tonight, not go all out but get something special? Maybe open up a nice bottle of red wine and you're looking for a great blue cheese to go with it?

Look no further than Lively Run Cayuga Blue clocking in at $34 a pound at Beecher's Cheese, not a huge splurge but a decent splurge and one you will definitely be happy you spent the extra money on.

Why you may be wondering?

Well Lively Run Cayuga Blue from Interlaken, New York is a strictly goat's milk blue (not a common occurence folks especially one that packs all of the classic goat-y notes.) Aged for two to four months, it is flakey and firm with rustic earthy barnyardy spicy blue notes and a bright sweet grassy goat-y finish. What I also especially like about Lively Run's Cayuga Blue is that no two wheels are the same, sometimes it will more classic goat's milk cheese than blue cheese and sometimes the reverse and sometimes a happy balance between the two.

So go out and grab a nice morsel of Lively Run Cayuga Blue and a bottle of your favorite red wine and enjoy.

Image courtesy of

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 589 : A recap of tonight's "Mostly Local Beer and Cheese" Tasting

This evening a group of fifteen settled down for a tasting of mostly local beers and cheeses -- a window into the world of curds and suds.

Why mostly? -- well that's because one of the beers is from Belgium.
And why local? -- Because it is very interesting to study two

Pairing # 1 : Circus Boy & Cremont

We started off with the funky Burlington, Vermont brew - Circus Boy, Magic Hat's unfiltered and unfettered hefeweizen. Loosely modeled on the classic German hefeweizen brewed primarily with wheat and a good amount of malted barley and of course top fermented. Notes of citrus, lemongrass, hay, straw, and more perfume your nose here. A light, crisp, refreshing beer that is perfect for the summertime.

Less than an hour drive away is Vermont Butter and Cheese and their mixed milk hockey puck sized cheese, Cremont or the Cream of Vermont. Creamy and buttery with a round mouth feel and a bright citrusy finish, this cheese walks an excellent line between a double or triple cream style cheese and a more chalky firm aged goat's milk cheese. The beer will cut through the cream and the citrus notes in the cheese in the beer and the cheese will function in perfect harmony.

Pairing # 2 : Victory Prima Pils and Twig Farm's Goat Tomme

Of Pennsylvanian origin, the Prima Pils is one of the best examples on the East Coast of a true "golden beer" of Bohemia. Pilsners are lagers -- meaning that they are brewed at lower temperatures than an ale and are fermented with bottom yeasts (as opposed to top yeasts like say in a hefeweizen.) Pilsners tend to be golden brown with a nice hoppy nose and taste sensation. Don't worry the Prima Pils is not all hop, there's a bit of sweeter maltiness with the classic bitter finish.

With our Prima Pils we had a morsel of Twig Farm's Goat Tomme, a raw goat's milk cheese from West Cornwall, Vermont. The semi-firm aged goat's milk cheese is milky and light with slight notes of mushroomy-ness and farmsteady-ness with a grassy bright lemony finish. The smooth milkiness of the cheese will play off the bitter hoppiness of the beer to form an excellent pairing.

Pairing # 3 : Peak Organic IPA and Cato Corner's Hooligan

Yes it is an organic beer company hailing from Portland, Maine that crafts our IPA. IPA's are the "in thing," have you heard? With all these new craft breweries sprouting up, there's quite the IPA selection out there. Why did I choose this one? Well I felt that it displayed the classic characteristics one looks for in an IPA -- hoppiness, bitterness yet a slight malty sweetness, floral notes, a hint of spice and of alcohol.
So where does the term IPA come from? India Pale Ale that dates back to the British colonization of India when goods were transported by ship and it was believed that the enzymes in the hops present in an IPA would allow for the beer's natural preservation on long journeys at sea.

To go with our IPA, I chose the Connecticut based, mother and son crafted Hooligan -- a washed rind cow's milk cheese full of brine-y saltiness with notes of cream. Farmsteady and barnyardy but not too stinky to scare away the faint of washed rind cheese heart. The hoppiness and the floral spicy notes of the beer will cut through the round farmsteady washed rinded-ness of the cheese to form a perfect union of cheesy beer goodness!

Pairing # 4 : Brooklyn Brewery's Brown Ale and Consider Bardwell's Rupert

As per request, instead of going with a stout or a porter to continue the class here, I decided to go with Brooklyn Brewery's interpretation of a classic English brown ale. Mahogany in color, somewhat dry in mouthfeel with notes of chocolate, coffee, molasses, and of course hops, this dark beer is quite the experience, bitter, bitting and fabulous! And how could we possibly go through a local beer tasting without at least one Brooklyn Brewery beer.

Paired with this is Consider Bardwell's Rupert, a raw cow's milk cheese hailing from Pawlet, Vermont modeled on the great European Alpine cheeses like Gruyere and Comte. But our Vermont version knocks their socks off -- notes of apricots, grass, and nuts perfume your nose before even enjoying a morsel of cheesy goodness. On the tongue it has an excellent butterscotchy, caramelly sweetness that will play off the dry bitterness of the beer and form a great pairing!

Pairing # 5 : Lindemans Framboise & Jasper Hill's Bayley Hazen Blue

Originally I had thought to start the class with an amuse bouche of fresh chevre and a glass of this delectable framboise lambic and then I decided, no way, this guy would overpower your taste buds, one needed to finish with it. Yes, lambics have great flexibility and can be served as an aperitif or a digestif but when you want your palate fresh for a variety of other tastes, you should finish with lambic. Lambics are a centuries old drink crafted in Belgium -- instead of the introduction of yeasts to create fermentation, lambics are crafted with wild yeasts that cause spontaneous fermentation making them traditionally more funky in flavor, sometimes musty, earthy, leathery but with a fruity floral bouquet. Many times they are brewed with fruits and in our case this evening I chose the classic Framboise.

And what to go with the Framboise Lambic but the fantastically creamy spicy piquant Bayley Hazen Blue. Named for a military road that traverses Greensboro, Vermont where it is said George Washington once traversed to bring troops to battle the English. A natural rind blue's milk cheese aged for four to six months, that is an overall delight! The sweetness of the Lambic will play off the the piquant spiciness of the cheese and the earthy notes of both will function in complete harmony!

So if you missed the class and want to participate in a beer and cheese tasting please feel free to try the pairings I've suggested or contact me for further ideas for pairings.

Day 588 : SCS Version 8.0, Dispatch #1

Yes a little late, but better late than never right...I realized that on our list of places we've examined in our SCS spotlights, we have yet to examine our closest neighbor, so why not focus on Canada? And in looking at our US focus, I realized our western focus was quite lacking so I chose Oregon. For this week's cheese spotlight from each locale I chose a firm raw goat's milk cheese.

Hailing from Fairview Farm in Oregon we have Cynthian named for the Oregonian trail settler, Cynthia Ann Applegate and crafted with the milk from animals who still graze along the trail she once traveled upon. This raw goat's milk cheese is made in small basket molds and aged for at least two months. The rind is brushed with sage, oregano, rosemary, and chive to create a fantastic herbaceous kick that is offset by the firm citrus-y grass lactic ivory interior paste. A veritable delight!

And what of its Canadian counterpart? How about the famous Chevre Noir crafted by Fromagerie Tournevant in Chesterville, Canada. Also made from raw goat's milk but made in a cheddar style and aged for at least one year in black wax. It boasts a bright ivory interior with nutty caramelly crunchy crystalized moments. Butter and milk flavors are offset by a savory salty sweet yet somewhat fruit finish. Overall an excellent example of Canadian cheesemaking.

Stay tuned next week for a look at two blue cheeses.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 587 : Fast Easy Fresh Dinners for one

Tonight after a long day, I plan to make a simple warm veggie salad featuring the fantastic cauliflower I purchased yesterday at the Columbus Avenue Farmer's Market. This is the sort of cauliflower that you don't need to do too much to as it will be fabulous no matter what. I decided to toss it with some EVOO, sea salt, black pepper, oregano and crushed red pepper and lightly roast some of the florets with some sundried tomatoes. Roast at 275 - 300 degrees for about fifteen minutes till its lightly golden brown. While your cauliflower and sundried tomatoes are roasting, dice up a clove of garlic and place it in a saute pan with some roasted almonds and some cooked chickpeas. Meanwhile grab some Nicoise olives and a yellow pepper, slice both and toss in a bowl. Combine all in a bowl and top with grated Parmesan and some fresh thyme and EVOO. Enjoy with a glass of Cotes du Rhone.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 586 : New cheese discovery

Rollingstone isn't new itself, they have been making cheese for twenty years in Idaho's Snake River Valley, but they are new to Fromagical's radar. Their goat cheeses are renowned nationwide and today while at Beecher's, their Anise and Lavender aged Goat's milk wheel caught my eye. I adore lavender and anise as ways to dial up the herbaceousness of a cheese. Immediately my mind went to Cypress Grove Chevre's Purple Haze infused with lavender and fennel pollen, I wondered how this cheese's flavor profile would relate. Purple Haze is a young herbal dynamic disc of cheesy herbal goodness... would the new discovery measure up?

Unlike Purple Haze, the Rollingstone cheese had a little bit of age on it, the chalky paste of the cheese was the perfect backdrop in which to present the anise and the lavender. Not the easiest cheese for amateurs, it sure has a lasting presence on your palate. Aromatic and lactic with an herbal and floral bouquet on the tongue. If you like full flavored cheeses that awaken your senses then this is the cheese for you. You certainly couldn't eat it on a daily basis but occasionally it truly is lovely. Enjoy it with a glass of mineral-forward, light Sauvignon Blanc.

So next time you're looking to impress friends by bringing an obscure cheese to a dinner party, this could be it!

Enjoy your Sunday folks!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Day 585 : A very late brunch for one

Today I did a 22 mile training run around the bottom of Manhattan Island and over the Brooklyn Bridge and around Brooklyn Bridge Park. For those of you that know me well, I am sure you are thinking, she ran across the Brooklyn Bridge?!? Yes folks, I have a bit of a problem with heights. The first time I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge was at night and my legs were so shaky after the fact that I insisted on sitting and having a drink immediately. Granted I've gotten much better about it now....

Upon returning home I decided I needed a protein focused brunch, what to make?

I decided on an egg white omelet with Salvatore Brooklyn ricotta infused with herbes de Provence and peppered mackerel, parsley, and sundried tomatoes and diced heirloom tomato (which are at their height right now).

Salvatore Brooklyn ricotta yes is somewhat of an indulgence when it comes to price but boy is it fabulous --utter creamy cheesy decadence in each morsel and by adding a generous helping of herbes de Provence and some sel de la guerande and some EVOO, you will dial the herbaceous aromatic qualities of the cheese. By adding a few dollops of ricotta to your egg white mixture and then whipping them together before placing the egg whites in the pan you add a creamy quotient to the eggs obviously along with a nice weight. Once the egg white ricotta mixture is on, add some diced sundried tomatoes and some parsley. At Fairway they have the most wonderful peppered mackerel filets that are smoked and ready to eat so dice up some of the mackerel and add it the eggs. Sprinkle some sea salt, crushed red pepper, and black pepper over the eggs. Cook over low heat and just before you think the eggs are done (the whites will go opaque), add your diced heirloom tomato.

Enjoy your savory egg white omelette! I surely enjoyed mine after my run.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 584: A rustic homey grilled cheese to finish the week off

With the change in temperature, my mind shifts to dreams of coats and boots, red wine and warm roasted veggie dishes -- cozy and comfortable days ahead that's for sure.

So I thought I'd propose a herb roasted eggplant and tomato Pyrenees Brebis grilled cheese paired with a glass of SEPP Moser's Zweigelt, a light to medium bodied smooth fruit forward red wine.

How to prepare the eggplant and tomatoes -

Preheat oven to 350. Slice a cup of cherry tomatoes thinly and drizzle with EVOO on an oven safe dish. You can add the thinly sliced eggplant to the same dish. Chop up one clove of garlic to add to the tomatoes and then top with basil, thyme,oregano, rosemary, sea salt, crushed red pepper flakes and black pepper. Roast at 300 degrees for 30 minutes or until everything is golden brown. Pull out of the oven and let slightly cool. Grab your ciabatta bread and brush basil olive oil on either side, place your roasted veggies on one side and top with a generous helping of Pyrenees Brebis and then a few basil leaves. Toast away! Enjoy with a glass of Zweigelt.

Curious where the wine comes from?

It's Austria folks!

Curious what Pyrenees Brebis is?

Well it's an Alpine style firm buttery, nutty, and rich sheep's milk cheese. It walks the perfect line between smooth and round yet rustic and farmsteady in all the right ways.

Your grilled cheese will be aromatic, herbaceous, creamy and cheesy all rolled into one -- the best way to warm up on your first chilly Friday of the Fall of 2011.

Day 583 : How to Save / How to Splurge Dispatch #29

Get thee to Zabar's for this week's dosage of cheese savings and pick up a morsel of any of the following six cheeses:

Port Salut -- the stinky creamy French morsel of cheesy goodness clocking in at $5.98 a pound
French Emmenthal - Swiss style cheese, nutty, buttery, and great when melted clocking in at $6.98 a pound
The Irish aged cheddar needs no explanation that's for sure and at $5.98 a pound you can't go wrong!
Even better is the Vermont Extra Sharp Cheddar and it's also cheaper at $3.98 a pound.
There's classic Dutch gouda at $4.98 a pound and Swiss cave aged gruyere at $8.98 a pound.

Zabar's cheese savings are a great way to enjoy cheeses that you know you like and not break the bank so that if you want to splurge on other cheeses you can have these as your staples.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 582: SCS Version 7.0, Dispatch #4

For our final round of Virginia and Ireland I thought we should finish with a blue stinky pungent bang.

From Virginia we have a natural rind blue cheese from the state's first Grade A-micro-goat dairy, Bonnyclabber Country cheese located on Sullivan's Pond Farm. This is a small operation folks to find their cheeses you either have to call them up and order directly or hope to find them at a local farmer's market. They make small batches of a wide range of raw goat's milk and pasteurized goat and cow's milk cheeses and for today's SCS spotlight their natural rind blue cheese crafted with cow's milk is raw and rustic, biting and spicy, creamy and smooth yet fantastically pungent. But most of all it embodies the classic Virginia terroir.

And what of its Irish counterpart?

Granted a little more well-known and easily found, but still equally fabulous! Cashel Blue! Crafted by the Grubbs family in County Tipperary who got expelled from England about three hundred years ago due to religious differences, this is actually the first Irish blue cheese. The family itself has been making butter and farming since they arrived in Ireland but Cashel only came onto the scene in the early 1980s. Crafted with pasteurized cow's milk and aged for anywhere between two and six months, this cheese is smooth, round, creamy, and luscious yet with the requisite blue piquant punch -- a happy marriage of weight and spice all rolled into one cheese.

Stay tuned next week for SCS version 8.0 folks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 581 : A slight change-up...yes it's all the way in advance but it's worth planning.

I've been getting asked quite a bit about teaching more classes and the spring and summer seemed to slip away from me so I plan to have quite a few classes on the agenda this fall. Next week is a beer and cheese class that's for a private group, but you all will get the rundown on the entire class after the fact so definitely stay tuned...and on that note, should you be interested in having a private class at anytime, please feel free to shoot me an email at and we can coordinate and craft a class that would be excellently suited to your needs...

But how about classes open to the public?

I've just started to advertise for a class in December -- Holiday Wine and Cheese - a seasonal wine and cheese pairing class perfect for those planning on hosting holiday parties or those needing to bring wine and cheese to holiday parties. Definitely sign up early to secure a spot!

Here are the details:

And stay tuned for a Scotch and Cheese class on November 1st and a Red Wine and Cheese class among others! If there is a particular topic you'd like to see a class featured on, please feel free to email me and I'll make sure it happens!

Tomorrow it's back to our SCS spotlights.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 580 : Cheeses in Remembrance

Yesterday after a moving service commemorating the tenth anniversary of 9/11, we had a late lunch and I decided to bring three cheeses all ripened with ash as a way to fromagically look back, honor, and remember, yes there were other yummies as well but why not just focus on the ashen cheeses. So what were the three cheeses I brought?

1. Ardith Mae's Bigelo - A bloomy rind exterior disguises the goat's milk pyramid interior here hailing from Pennsylvania.  The pyramid shape was chosen as an additional way to commemorate the towers. Instead of the traditional cream line in aged bloomy rind cheeses, Bigelo boasts an ashen interior line. Dense and chalky with the most fantastically milky brightness for an interior paste. This is an elegant cheese with a light roundness to it.

2. Delice de Poitou - Our second cheese is from the Loire Valley of France and is aged for a few months with an ashen exterior. A darker ivory interior with a grey-ish black-ish charcoal exterior,  this is a delicately nuanced cheese -- full of grassy density with a vegetal finish due to the ash. This is a cheese that coats every crevice of your mouth that's for sure!

3. Sofia - Our last and final ash ripened goat's milk cheese did not simply have the ash on the exterior as a rind or on the interior to help the interior paste age but had both -- ashen lines separated the interior paste and coated the exterior paste of our dear Sofia. Soft and young, this Indiana baby is a mouthful -- farmsteady, barnyardy, semi-stinky yet light, citrus-y, grassy and alive, this cheese is not for the faint of heart but is an excellent way to finish.

Each ash ripened goat's milk cheese was a delight and an excellent way to see the broad spectrum of what ash can do to a cheese in its aging process.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 579 : We remember

In honor, remembrance and thought of those no longer with us, Fromagical would like for you today, instead of reading about cheese to take a moment of silence. 

Image courtesy of

Ten years ago today, the world was changed forever. Today, ten years later, we look back to those that are no longer with us and honor their memories in silence. 

Day 578 - A riff on Eggs in a Basket

A little late, but better late than never,  right?

Who doesn't love brunch? The height of weekend relaxation captured in a meal. Think of the classic brunch dish eggs in a basket -- a slice of toast with a hole cut in the center filled with a fried egg. In the mood to be inventive? Grab that slice of toast and still cut that hole in the center but instead of filling it with an egg, fill it with a small ball of burrata, the decadent fresh Italian cheese composed of mozzarella curd shaped in a ball and filled with cream. Serve with freshly chopped, in season, heirloom tomatoes drizzled with EVOO, sea salt, black pepper, and garlic.

Decadent yet simple but the perfect savory brunch dish.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Day 577 : An end of summer-time crostini

After a long week of rain and a burst of sunny warm weather I thought I would propose an end of summer crostini to serve with perhaps a chilled red wine or your last gasp of rose.

Grab some summer squash which is excellent at this time of year and brush with EVOO, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes and sea salt. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice summer squash thinly and place in the oven for fifteen to twenty minutes until it is nicely golden brown. Grab a nice red pepper and slice thinly as well, brush this with EVOO, rosemary, oregano and sea salt and roast at the same time.

While the summer squash and red pepper are roasting, grab a handful of kale and dice thinly. Throw in a sauce pan with EVOO, crushed garlic, sea salt and black pepper. Cover and cook over low heat till the kale cooks down and is golden brown and slightly crunchy.

Slice some ciabatta bread and toast -- brush this with olive oil and top with a few nice slices of Capriole's Julianna, a soft ripened raw goat's milk cheese that is covered in herbs. Bright, light, citrusy and milky on the interior with a rustic nutty mushroomy herbaceous savory exterior -- a great counterpart to the roasted veggies and the sauteed kale and don't worry this cheese won't get lost amongst the veggies -- this is a cheese that surely asserts its presence in the best way possible.

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So once you have the cheese on the bread, top with the veggies and go ahead and enjoy!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 576 : How to Save / How to Splurge Dispatch #28

Guess what? The sun is currently out! You know what that means? You should definitely go to some of the many Fashion's Night Out events going on all around town. With over one thousand retailers participating this year, it is guaranteed to be a city-wide party of sorts! In it's third year, this worldwide event was started by Vogue to stimulate the fashion world at a time when the economy was in a downturn.

And just because it's known as Fashion's Night Out, doesn't mean there aren't opportunities for art related events or food related events. Lots of pop-up restaurants and cafes are springing up all around town cocktails catered around the aesthetic of particular fashion designers, cupcakes designed to look antique and more...gosh it is one of those fantastic over the top sorts of evenings in New York City.  To save on your food and maybe splurge a bit on your clothing and fabulous shoes, I recommend heading over to the hip downtown food market transplanted uptown for one night with over fifty vendors -- the Hester Street Fair at Henri Bendel's from right now, 3pm till 11pm.

What's available?

Ice cream sandwiches made by Melt Bakery; La NewYorkina's cult ice pops; First Prize Pies' special The Henri pie -- a riff on bananas foster; our Fromagical cheese-y choice for the evening, my Hero Cuisine's gourmet homemade mac n' cheese to order; a macaron parlour and much much more.

So head on over to gobble up some of the mac n' cheese and sample some desserts, and for such a positively uptown locale, you surely won't break the bank with these nibbles enjoyed while perusing the gorgeous clothes around the store.

Day 575 - Cheese and Cider Pairing Part One

After my sojourn in Normandy which is cider central for Northern France and the sudden onset of autumn, I feel myself having a hankering for hard cider. Crisp and light but with a warming rustic feel, cider sounds like just the ticket to me.

Not sure what cheese to serve with cider, well it depends on the cider and your mood of course. If you are drinking a cider from Normandy, I recommend staying local and getting a morsel of Pont L'Eveque which is an excellent example of a key pairing rule when pairing cheese and cider -- the light airy carbonation of the cider will cut through the dense unctuousness of a creamy cheese but instead of choosing a straight forward bloomy rind cheese here like one might choose with a champagne, ciders work much better with washed rind cheeses -- rustic pairing with rustic..

Thinking of going local but don't know what? Go with a Bellwether cider from the Finger Lakes and perhaps Vermont's Von Trapp Brother's Oma. A perfectly stinky cow's milk washed rind cheese that will be excellent with the refreshing fruity-ness of the cider.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 574 : SCS Version 7.0, A long overdue Dispatch # 3

Gosh it's been a while since we had the opportunity to delve into our state country spotlight, so let's pickup where we left off with Ireland and Virginia with a goat's milk cheese from each, hopefully a bright light morsel of citrusy tangy milky lactic goodness on such a dreary rainy day! Both are modeled on the great Loire Valley classic goat cheeses, the cheeses that paved the way for the prevalence of goat's milk cheese adored the world over.

Located in Esmont, Virgina, 23 miles south of Charlottesville is Caromont Farm, a farmstead cheesemaking opertation helmed by Gail Hobbs Page, an ex-chef turned cheesemaker. Page currently crafts seven cheeses, four of which are made with goat's milk and three with cow's milk. You have to be in the know in the Washington DC-Maryland-Virginia food scene to know about Caromont Farm so now you are and what cheese should you be buying from them? How about their Alberene Ash? It's modeled on a Pouligny Saint Pierre but with that special Virginia touch and terroir -- pasteurized goat's milk is formed into a pyramid with a thin line of ash through the center  and dusted with ash to aid in the cheese's three week aging process. Rustic, earthy, and mushroomy with that citrusy lactic punch designed to wake up the senses.

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And what of its Irish counterpart? How about St Tola? A log of unpasteurized goat's milk cheese hailing from Co. Clare near Inah. Modeled on a Saint Maure but minus the mold and ash, St Tola is a soft ripened natural rind goat's milk cheese with a slight cream line and a bright ivory interior. Yes it has those classic aged goat's milk notes but with the added bonus of the fantastic Irish terroir -- hints of sea breezes and grassy knolls bringing St Tola to a whole different playing field!

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Each of our cheeses today are excellent examples of cheesemakers finding inspiration in a specific Loire Valley goat cheese and making it their own. It might be fun to grab both the St Tola and the Alberene Ash along with the Pouligny Saint Pierre and the Saint Maure so that you could directly study the differences between each. Either way, they are all wonderful cheeses.

Day 573 : Local Farms and Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene wiped out 140,000 acres of farming land in New York State alone, and that's just the current gauge of the damage associated with the storm that swept up the East Coast the last weekend of August. Not only was there substantial damage to New York State farms and creameries, there was even more damage to the great cheesemaking state of Vermont. Slowly but surely, our local farms and creameries are taking stock of what has transpired and beginning the recovery and repair process. Thus far New York State has come up with $15 million in recovery money to aid farmers rebuild after the devastation. So what can you do? Apart from contributing directly to your favorite local farmer or to one of the state funds setup to help farmers, you can go to Saxelby Cheesemongers in the Essex Street Market anyday this week through September 11th and pick up some cheese as they will donate 50% of their profits to the recovery efforts for New York and Vermont farmers and cheesemakers.

So folks, make sure to visit your local greenmarket and help out your local farmers and cheesemakers as well and definitely stop into Saxelby Cheesemongers and get some cheese that gives back to the people who make your enjoying of our local and regional cheeses possible.

Saxelby Cheesemongers
Essex Street Market
120 Essex Street

Stay tuned later for our return to our SCS spotlights with dispatch #3 of Virginia and Ireland!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day 572 : The perfect Labor Day Cheese

One foot in the summertime and one foot in the Fall is an excellent way to characterize Cowgirl Creamery's Pierce Pt if you ask me...yes it is billed as their Fall / Winter cheese but this cheese is a wonderful welcome into the season of leaves changing, cooler nights, warmer fires, and shorter days. A semi soft bloomy rinded cow's milk cheese bathed in sweet Moscato wine and rolled in local Tomales Bay dried herbs. The cheese's sweet wine wash is offset with slight slivers of dried orange rind along with the aromatic nuances of the herbs providing an excellent tango of savory, sweet, herbal, creamy, and fruity notes on one's tongue. In a way, the cheese is almost warming and surely is perfect with a glass of red wine. This isn't your light, bright, citrusy goat's milk cheese that heralds in the dog days of summer folks, this cheese has more weight and heft to it but it does such a fabulous dance on your tongue to awaken your senses that it still maintains somewhat of a sense of lightness, just like the end of summer sort of feel.

So go out and grab yourself a wheel of Pierce Pt and enjoy the last days of summer while simultaneously welcoming in fall.

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Day 571: A simple dinner to ring in Labor Day weekend

Earlier this summer I discovered a fabulous idea for fuller bodied rose wines -- infuse them overnight with sage and consequently transform them into a unique aromatic and herbal aperitif. And what better way to ring in the weekend that is the beginning of the end of summer than with the same aperitif we started the summer with over Memorial Day weekend.

To go with our rose, we made a mozzarella, tomato, cucumber, watermelon and basil salad with EVOO, aged balsamic vinegar, sea salt and ground black pepper. We also had some Mediterranean hummus with crudities and a fabulous aged Manchego cheese and pumpkin seed ciabatta. A simple fast light dinner to go with our rose for the beginning of the Labor Day weekend.

To all my Fromagical readers, I wish you all a lovely Labor Day weekend.

Day 570 : Small plates and a standout cheese at Boulud Sud

The other evening, a group of us got together for a meal and a catchup at Boulud Sud. We split four of their appetizers --

First off was the Salade Tropezienne which was composed of thinly sliced artichoke, frisee, celery, and fennel -- light, flavorful, and herbaceously aromatic. Next up was the Chickpea & Eggplant composed of homemade herb falafel and lavash flatbreads, a fresh herb hummus and babaganoush. A tribute to the flavorful dips of the Mediterranean with a simple elegance. Then the trio of sheep's milk cheese and olive, made up of homemade lactic milky ricotta drizzled with olive oil and herbs, grilled manouri with tomato confit and two olive tapenades, one green and one black. And lastly their duo of tabouleh salads, one the classic bulgur salad with tomatoes, onions, parsley and the such and one with cauliflower and dried fruits and nuts.

Overall a wonderful light veggie centric meal with great company finished off with a selection of three cheeses.

All of Boulud Sud's cheeses are carefully selected by downtown American cheese doyenne, Anne Saxelby. They are primarily European as the restaurant's focus is on cuisine of the Mediterranean,  with one or two American artisanal choices, the best of which right now is the Fleur du Maquis. Maquis is the traditional brush or thickets along the road in Corsica where criminals and others used to hide out as it  was so thick that they could conceal themselves. It is a Corsican sheep's milk cheese that is rubbed with lavender, rosemary, fennel seeds, juniper berries and a few bird's eye chile. Bright, bold, and big flavors are present here that highlight the classic aromatic herbaceousness of Mediterranean cuisine.

A fantastic way to end a lovely meal with good friends. I look forward to our next dinner together and my next visit to Boulud Sud.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day 569: How to Save / How to Splurge Post-Parisian Dispatch

Remember back to Day 560 when I told you all of my excursions around Paris and a visit to one of my favorite Fromager Affineur's -- Christian Le Lann? Well if you are in the market for a Parisian splurge then I recommend that you pick up some of their Fiance des Pyrenees, pictured below, clocking in at 49.90 Euro per kilo.

Wondering what this pricey little cheese is all about?

It is obviously produced in the Pyrenees as implied by its name and is a raw goat's milk washed rind disk of creamy cheesy goodness. The classic orange washed rind imparts a faint tangy pungence, nothing over the top but a nice twist. The ivory interior is smooth, luscious, and round with notes of milky lacticness and hints of bright citrusy grassy-ness on the finish.

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