Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 659 : SCS Version 10.0, Dispatch # 3

Today we will explore semi-firm to firm cheeses from each location, great for snacking with a glass of red wine or a nice ale or even a glass of cider.

From Hahn's End in Maine we have City of Ships, a small production aged raw cow's milk cheese. Full bodied with rustic nutty buttery notes and a smooth finish. This is an excellent wintertime cheese for a night in with friends, a bottle of wine, and a movie.

And what of its Greek counterpart?

What about Kefalotyri?

A very well-known and popular cheese that is traditionally crafted with either sheep's or goat's milk, this is super-duper firm cheese that can range in color from ivory to yellow depending on the type of milk utilized in the cheese production. Upon tasting the cheese, you might think of Alpine cheeses like Appenzeller or Gruyere, but Kefalotyri is completely its own -- the salty briny quotient is dialed up a few notches here therefore making it great for snacking in the summertime when it's hot out and you need salt. Crisp and savory with a sharp punch, it is also quite crumbly with that classic aged crystallization. Very versatile -- you can see this cheese grated over pasta, utilized in cooking, served on its own with some bread, you can't go wrong with Kefalotyri.

Day 658: New Vermont Cheese Developments

Two new cheeses direct from Vermont to your inbox that I fell in love with last night.

The first hails from Lazy Lady Farm and is called the Thin Red Line, yes it is named after the World War II movie. Lazy Lady Farm has always captured my heart with their quirky and amusing cheesenames; and by their completely solar and wind powered farm and finally because their cheeses are just fabulous, there's no denying it. I think the Thin Red Line takes this to new levels.  A bloomy rind goat's milk cheese coated in vegetable ash with a thin red line of Spanish smoked paprika directly through the midline of the cheese. Spicy, tangy, meaty, luscious, and creamy with citrus and grassy hints. A round mouth feel, this is a cheese that coats every crevice of your mouth, but without a sense of weightiness. A truly excellent new cheese!

And what of the other cheese?

It's Cabot's Artisan Reserve Cheddar aged for three years specifically produced for the 2011 Holiday Season.  Over those three years of aging, this Cheddar really grows into itself -- round and buttery yet crumbly and nutty with slight hints of caramel. You can tell that there was a lot of love and care that went into this cheese. Smooth yet somewhat tangy, this is Cheddar done right. There's only a limited amount that was produced, so I recommend jumping on it before you miss out!

Image courtesy of

Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 657 : Looking to get into the holiday spirit?

Well I have the ticket for you!

Head on over to Winter's Eve sponsored by the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District starting at 5:30 tonight with the annual celebratory tree lighting at Dante Park on 63rd and Broadway. Then from 6 till 8:30, you will find live music, entertainment, in-store specials, food tastings from neighborhood restaurants such as Atlantic Grill, Bouchon Bakery, Avoce, Landmarc, Telepan and more stretching from 68th street south to Columbus Circle. The food tastings range from $1 - $5 but I am sure they will be worth it!

It's a great way to kick off the holiday season after Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 656 : Sunday Roast

No meat in our Sunday roast here - a celebration of late autumn vegetal bounty mixed with a few other yummies. Today's Sunday roast will be an acorn squash stuffed with golden raisin, roasted cauliflower, Parmesan red quinoa. A multi-step preparation but a simple one at that. What do you need?

1 Acorn Squash
1 cup of golden raisins
1/3 - 1/2 head of cauliflower
1 cup of red quinoa
1 clove of garlic
Herbs - rosemary, oregano, thyme, marjoram
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut acorn squash in half, scoop out seeds, brush with EVOO, herbs, and salt. Boil water for the quinoa. While the water is boiling, toss the golden raisins, the cauliflower, a diced up clove of garlic, EVOO, diced up parsley, and some salt in a sauté pan. Cover and cook over low heat until the cauliflower is golden brown, stirring every so often. Once quinoa is cooked, toss cauliflower and raisins into the pan. Mix together, add EVOO, grated Parmesan, some sea salt, black pepper, some of your herbs and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Stuff each half of acorn squash with your quinoa mixture, and top with extra grated cheese. Roast in the oven for between fifteen and twenty minutes. Enjoy with a glass of Channing Daughters Rosso Fresco.

Hope everyone had a lovely long weekend. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 655: Horiatiki @ Boulud Sud

Horiatiki or Greek salad is one of those classic salad combinations known the world over. Traditionally, it is a melange of tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, red onion, feta, and green bell peppers dressed simply with olive oil, oregano and sea salt. But a Greek Salad's success rests in the freshness of the ingredients. Mealy tomatoes, canned olives, cheap feta and non-crispy cucumbers tend to be the common faults I find in this salad. I also find that it tends to be a risky salad to order a lot of the time, granted go to the South of France and it's a different ball game. But last night, at Boulud Sud, their Horiatiki salad was crisp, fresh, alive, and delish. Salty, briny feta offset the bright juiciness of the tomatoes and the crispiness of the cucumbers was perfect when enjoyed with a bite of the aromatic red onion and the tang of a fabulous Kalamata olive. Leaves of romaine lettuce were added in to beef the salad up a bit in all the right sorts of ways. With each morsel, you felt as though you were transported to a seaside town on the Mediterranean -- what a delight!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 654 : Black Friday Special

Looking to get a deal on cheese on Black Friday?

Well then look no further than Artisanal! They are offering 15% through Sunday on any and everything you order! Just enter the code BLACK11 at checkout... Yes sure many retailers will have sales or discounts on some cheeses but this discount applies across the board!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 653: Thanksgiving Cheeses

Happy Thanksgiving again folks!

For today's Thanksgiving cheeses, I decided to go to Beechers and get cheeses from blockbuster cheesemaking states that have really led the way of the American artisanal cheese movement.

For our first cheese, I chose Old Kentucky Tomme from Capriole Farms in Indiana. Judy Shad and her family began producing their award winning goat's milk cheeses in 1977 -- each cheese is full of whimsy and individuality, crafted with love and care. Old Kentucky Tomme is produced with goat's milk and is aged for approximately six months developing a naturally bloomy rind full of rustic mushroomy notes. A semi soft interior paste with a fresh grassy citrusy crispness and a creamy mouthfeel. Great with a glass of Meursault.

Moving along our next cheese is Queso del Invierno (winter cheese) from Vermont Shepherd made with primarily sheep's milk cheese and a small amount of Jersey cow's milk and aged for between four and six months. Firm and nutty, with a crunchy crumble, this is cheese is rich with earthy and rustic notes. Great with a glass of cider or a nice medium bodied red wine.

Our final cheese is Big Boy Blue from Wilapa Hills Cheese in Doty, Washington. A washed rind cow's milk blue cheese that has only been produced for the past year but it has quickly become a favorite on the American artisanal cheese scene. Why Big Boy? Well that's because of the amount of blue veining in the cheese. It is rustic and round with a melt in your mouth creaminess -- not too punchy but just punchy and spicy enough.

That's all for now folks. Here's to a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

Yes sure Thanksgiving is about being with close friends and family and enjoying a feast but it is also about giving thanks for all of life's special gifts. So thank you to my folks, family, and friends on this day of giving thanks. I love you all.

Day 652: SCS Version 10.0, Dispatch # 2 - Sheep's Milk Cheeses

Happy Thanksgiving Fromagical readers! I apologize our SCS spotlights are a day late but that just means you get double the love today so lets get right to it! 

For today's SCS spotlight, we will look at a sheep's milk cheese from each locale. Sheep's milk is richer than cow or goat's milk, with a higher fat content thus providing you with a rounder mouth feel and an increased sense of weight on the tongue -- decadent and buttery but rustic and farmsteady. 

From Appleton Creamery in Maine, we have their Georges Highland, a three to five month aged sheep's milk cheese. A smooth snacking cheese with round buttery notes and a nice crisp barnyardy finish. Appleton Creamery, founded in the late 1970s, was one of the first creameries to set up shop in the northern state of Maine. For the first few decades of their existence, they strictly produced a line of goat's milk cheeses. However in 2004, they began producing a line sheep's milk cheeses of which their Georges Highland is one of. A very versatile pairing partner, this cheese can work with a nice glass of medium bodied red wine or perhaps a nice IPA. 

And what of our Greek counterpart?

How about Kasseri?

Kasseri is crafted from unpasteurized sheep's milk and is considered a pasta filata cheese (a pulled or stretched curd cheese). A semi-firm cheese aged for at least four months, Kasseri is creamy yet somewhat salty with a nice fullness of mouth feel. Great for cooking or snacking, this cheese will make you think of a mixture between an aged cheddar and a Parmesan. 

Stay tuned later for my Thanksgiving cheese selections!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 651: Holiday Wine and Cheese Class December 13th! It's time to sign up!

Seems our SCS spotlights are simply going to move to Wednesdays for the remainder of the year...I apologize for the disruption, but ends up being easier on me...

Today I wanted to encourage you to check out my next cheese and wine pairing class on December 13th featuring local holiday wine and cheese pairings and sign up:

Great as a gift for a significant other or a fun girls night out for the holidays or as a nice way to learn more about holiday wine and cheese or as a break from all the holiday parties you are planning on going to! Even if you can't join, please pass on the word -- it will be a really fun evening with a delish wines and cheeses!

I hope to see you there!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 650 : The new "in" way to serve Mozzarella

As of late, I've been seeing and hearing that many of the city's upscale restaurants are offering warm mozzarella salads -- simple with extra virgin olive oil, some herbs, maybe a green here or there, some salt and pepper and that's it. Designed to be a simple, luxurious and sensual appetizer -- this fresh young cheese becomes all the more indulgent and rich when served warm; its traditional melt-in-your-mouth feel is dialed up a few notches. Great with a glass of bubbly or a glass of red wine -- the simple act of heating the cheese up briefly will elevate this cheese we all know and love to new levels.

So why not try this at home?

It's the perfect autumnal cheese preparation!
But be careful about how you heat the cheese up.

Get a nice ball of buffalo mozzarella and place it in an oven safe dish with some EVOO. Place it in your oven at 250 degrees for approximately three minutes (give or take) -- you want to catch the cheese before it starts melting but you also want to give the cheese a sufficient time to warm up.

Once you pull the cheese out -- top it with a drizzle more EVOO, some fresh rosemary and thyme, sea salt and pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper for a nice kick. Enjoy with some grilled bread. Simple yet decadent and the perfect beginning of the week treat.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 649 : A little break from cheese for the day...

To talk about one of my other passions that truly makes me who I am -- running -- and not just running as in jogging but distance running.  Running to me is motivation and meditation all rolled into one. I love getting up on a cold winter morning and running through a snow covered Central Park; I love having the goal of races, be it half or full marathons, love the training and ultimately love race day. To me there is no better sense of complete physical, mental, and emotional accomplishment.

Today's race -- the Philadelphia marathon -- was a fun, fast, and primarily flat course. It was one of the most friendly races I have ever run -- runners were chattering away to one another -- the boys from Costa Rica talking to the ladies from California -- each and everyone was bonding over their shared love of running and their participation in the 2011 Philadelphia marathon.

It got me thinking about how far we push ourselves in day to day life -- do you challenge yourself often? Do you succeed and prove to yourself how strong you really are? Or do you simply go through life making goals and achieving them but perhaps not pushing yourself as hard as you can? For me running is about smashing through those boundaries -- it challenges me to push myself harder in each and every other endeavor I pursue in my life.

I'd like to leave you all with a quote from Wilma Rudolph, the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics : "Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us."

So go out in search of your own personal greatness and tomorrow Fromagical's cheese greatness will return. Thank you for indulging me in a break from cheese for a running philosophical moment.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 648 : When in Philly for the marathon...

Welcome to Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love where the marathon is said to be "the best time of your life." A flat, fast course that is significantly smaller than New York's and the last Fall race of the Northeastern marathon season. Sure you can fly south and run the Palm Beaches marathon the first week of December, but don't plan on running up north for a marathon's distance till at least March.

Once you've picked up your number at the Expo at the Philadelphia Convention Center, why not stop into Reading Terminal Market -- prepared foods, sit down counters, fresh local produce, spices, cookbooks, Philly cheesesteaks, sushi, vegan takeout and more are available. If you're looking for a little bit of local cheese to bring home, grab a hunk of Wakefield Dairy's Bouche from Lancaster, PA. A raw cow's milk cheese that has been cave aged -- this cheese is slightly sweet, round and buttery with a nice honest grassy yet slightly nutty finish. A great snacking cheese or great to grate over pasta for your pre-marathon carbo loading. This is a strictly regional product so make sure to grab some to bring home. If cheese is not your thing, I am sure you can find something else fabulous at Reading Terminal Market so go explore.

Here's to a great race tomorrow fellow Philly marathoners!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 647: Revisiting Barely Buzzed

Lavender and Espresso Grounds? Together? Hand rubbed onto the exterior of an aged cow's milk cheese?

Yes you heard correctly!

The cheese is Barely Buzzed and it hails from Beehive Cheese Company in Utah. They have recently developed a new cheese that I cannot wait to try called TeaHive which is rubbed with bergamot oil and black tea leaves.

But back to Barely Buzzed for a moment here -- it's been a while since I'd had this spectacular and really unique cheese which is if you ask me one of the most excellent examples of American artisanal cheesemaking. It is the sort of cheese that you can serve as a centerpiece, you wouldn't necessarily need to have multiple cheeses -- Barely Buzzed can easily take the spotlight as it is so flavorful and so dynamic. Last night I served it with some oat cakes, figs, dates, and roasted almonds and it was perfect -- a great reminder for me of this fabulous cheese so I'm passing that along to you all...

If you are looking to try something new and different -- definitely check out the Beehive Cheese Company's cheese repertoire.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 646 : How to Save / How to Splurge Dispatch # 38

Looking for a holiday worthy festive splurge?

Have I got the ticket for you! It is totally ridiculous but totally one of a kind!

Look across the pond to Clawson's Stilton Gold -- crafted with premium white Stilton, this cheese is consequently infused with a mixture of real gold leaf and gold liqueur. It is 60 English pounds for 100grams or approximately $95 for 3.5 ounces. And if you feel like splurging, you better get on it now as Clawson's not surprisingly has a limited supply. Order online at :

Image courtesy of

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 645 : SCS Spotlight Version 10.0, Dispatch #1

Where to now?

Seeing as the rest of the world is paying close attention to the developments transpiring on a daily basis in Greece, why not explore the cheeses that hail from this European nation?

Did you know that according to Greek mythology, Aristaios, the son of Apollo and Cyrene, was delivered to Greek civilization bearing the gift of cheese-making to the Greeks. The Greeks viewed this gift as one of everlasting value and it sure has sustained through to the present day.
And what of our US counterpart? How about Maine? A state that many people don't view as being known for cheesemaking, but prepare to be surprised.

So let's dive right in with two fresh cheeses this week:

From Seal Cove Farm in Lamoine, Maine we have their fresh chevre brick. Seal Cove Farm has been in existence since 1976, moving locations in 1996 to accomodate their need for increased space and has thrived ever since. They make a lineup of fresh and aged goat's milk cheeses and a few mixed milk cheeses. They are highly influenced by French cheesemaking techniques but each and everyone of their cheeses is completely theirs. What of their chevre brick? Crafted with pasteurized goat's milk, this is a star of a cheese. It is chalky, citrusy, grassy, milky and lactic with a melt in your mouth feel, this chevre is infused with the rugged and ocean swept Maine air. I personally prefer the plain brick but they also make bricks infused with: walnuts or cranberries (perhaps a concept for a Thanksgiving cheese?) or blueberries.

Moving across the Atlantic to Greece, Feta would have been an obvious choice but how about Manouri instead? Manouri is crafted with the drained whey from the production of feta. It can be made with sheep or goat's milk. Unlike Feta, Manouri is semi-firm with a creamier and rounder mouthfeel. The briny taste that one is accustomed to with Feta, is most certainly not present here -- it's all milky bright freshness. Great drizzled with honey or crumbled into salads or melted into eggs, this is quite the versatile cheese.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 644 : Local C

I know we are supposed to have another dosage of state country spotlights today but in thinking about where to focus on, I realized I neglected informing you all about my other fabulous cheese discovery at Murray's that we simply must discuss today -- don't worry SCS spotlights will be back tomorrow.

What was that discovery?

Local C -- only found at Murray's, it is a washed rind stinker if I have ever seen one. It starts out as Old Chatham Sheepherding's Kinderhook Creek, a bloomy rind sheep's milk camembert style cheese crafted in upstate New York. Unique in that it is made completely with sheep's milk not a blend of sheep and cow's milk. Once Murray's receives the Kinderhook Creek wheels, they wash them in local beer and age them in their caves for a few weeks. It sure has an assertive scent but is creamy and luscious with that classic roundness of mouthfeel of a sheep's milk cheese but it has the most fantastic washed rind bite, farmsteady, and barnyardy with a hoppy and nutty finish. It is $29.99 for a full round and $14.98 for a half. If you're a fan of Pont L'Eveque and other fantastic washed rind cheeses, you absolutely must try this, it is the ultimate in local cheesemaking.

Day 643 : In season...brussel sprouts...

Brussel Sprouts are my favorite Fall vegetable by far -- little jewels of yumminess in my mind. I've been cooking with a lot of them as of late and so I thought today I'd share my ode to brussel sprout recipe:

1 cup of brussel sprouts (I love to use them right off the tree if you feel like investing in an entire brussel sprout tree, I guarantee they will be fresher.)
1/2 cup of chanterelle mushrooms
2 carrots
1 Shallot
1/3 cup of dry roasted slivered almonds
Sea Salt / Black Pepper
3 year aged Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dice up mushrooms, carrots, and the shallot. Grab an oven safe dish and as long as the brussel sprouts are on the smaller side I prefer not to chop them up as I think that they have such a dynamically green and vegetal yet meaty flavor when enjoyed whole. So toss them with the other veggies, the almonds, EVOO, some rosemary and oregano and a dash of sea salt and black pepper. Place it in the oven for twenty minutes and then pull out and top with a nice healthy grating of Parmesan and pop it back in the oven for another fifteen minutes. Pull out and enjoy with a nice glass of Paumanok Cabernet Franc.

Stay tuned for our new SCS spotlights later on today.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 642: My new cheese crush...

Lately I've been very into blue cheeses, I've always loved them but I've been gravitating more to them recently. Yesterday at Murray's on Bleecker my friend gave me a taste of their Bleu du Bocage and boy was I in heaven. Bleu du Bocage is a raw goat's milk aged blue cheese from the Vendee (known more for its butter) region of France. No in your face salty/brininess from the bluing, a nice tang that is offset with the citrusy, grassy, milkiness of the goat's milk. This cheese melts in your mouth in just the right sort of ways.

Goat's milk blues are few and far between which makes this cheese so refreshing and a standout of a blue cheese if you ask me.

Curious what to pair this with? I recommend a nice glass of Moscato.

Image courtesy of

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 641 : Looking for some stink in your life?

Look no further than the Cato Corner Farm cheese stand at the Union Square Greenmarket today.

Why may you ask should I head over to Cato Corner Farm for a great stinky cheese?

Because they have on offer James Brown Blue -- only available at certain times of year, this is by far the most stinky blue cheese I have had that has been crafted on American soil, rivaling the pucker and fantastic stink of say the greatest of the great stinkers -- Cabrales. Unlike Cabrales that has some moments of ivory amongst the blue veining, James Brown Blue is all blue and somewhat dark beige on the interior. Scents of intense barnyard and farmsteady-ness waft through your nostrils before tasting this cheese. At first taste it is quite briny, spicy, and stinky with the promised barnyardy and farmsteady-ness you pick up on in scent. It hits you right at the back of your throat in the sort of way that will awaken all of your senses.

If you're looking for an intense but fabulous blue -- head over to Cato Corner and grab a bit of this cheese. A little bit goes a long way but boy is it a unique cheese that is worth trying out.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 640 : Cheese Spy Dispatch

In Alba for the truffle season and truffle auctions?

Well then you should have the regional young fresh cheese -- Tuma. As our spy informs us it's "mild yet not," as one continues to enjoy this young gun of a cheese, its flavor profile opens up and it develops more of a bite. Soft, smooth, and silky, this cheese melts in your mouth in the most fabulous of ways and is absolutely perfect with a glass of local wine.

Oh and don't try to find Tuma exported as the cheese is too young to export to the US. It is best enjoyed within a few days of production.

Day 639 : How to Save / How to Splurge Dispatch #37

Looking for something to warm you from the insides out as we slowly move into late Fall? Then look no further than the Raclette cheese at Grace's Marketplace on 71st street and 3rd avenue for $12.99 a pound.

Raclette is an Alpine style washed rind cow's milk cheese. Semi-soft, melting, and pliable, this cheese has a fantastic nutty sweetness to it.

Why you might ask would this particular cheese warm me from the inside out?

Well that's because of the Swiss dish -- Raclette -- crafted utilizing its namesake cheese. Raclette is heated on a grill so that it becomes like its own personal fondue perfect for dipping bread, potatoes, veggies, or cured meats into while enjoying a nice glass of red wine.

Did you know Raclette derives from the French word 'racler' meaning to scrape?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 638 : SCS Version 9.0, Dispatch #4

Our last and final dispatch from Mexico and Texas and boy am I thrilled to move on to two new locales. Mexico has been a tough country for our SCS focus because although they do make cheese, there is not nearly as great a variety of cheeses produced -- the majority of their cheeses tend to be soft or pliable and melting and although there are regional cheese specialities they can sometimes be tough to find exported out of the for our final spotlight we're going to be looking at different old world cheeses that have been appropriated by each locale.

From Texas, we have Sand Creek Farm's raw milk Gouda. Sand Creek was the first Texas based farm that was licensed to produce and sell raw milk cheeses, quite the feat if you ask me! Their raw milk Gouda is crafted with grade A Jersey cow's milk, light and buttery with a nice toasty nutty finish. This is an easy snacking cheese that appeals to the masses. The fact that it is crafted with raw milk adds a farmsteady, honest, small production feel to the cheese; this is not some plastic mass produced Gouda cheese that you would find on the shelves of Gristedes, this is an artisanal product. It manages to keep the integrity of the cheese it was inspired by but yet becomes its own thing all together!

And from the Chiapas region of Mexico, Queso de Bola or otherwise known as Queso Ocosingo modeled loosely on the makeup of Edam. Crafted with pasteurized cow's milk with the addition of cream, this cheese has a yellow-ish tint to it with a round, buttery and creamy mouth feel and a surprisingly crumbly crunchy crystallized texture. Just like Edam, it is covered in a wax exterior during its aging process which produces a hard outside that does not impact the taste and flavor profile of the cheese. Sometimes the cheese can be hollowed out and consequently filled with meat in the form of a queso relleno or stuffed cheese.

Isn't it interesting that both cheeses discussed today originated in Holland, not in France or Italy....and next week we move onto our tenth state country spotlight.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 637 : Xai Xai small plates...

SCS spotlights will be back tomorrow but for today a little report on a delectable small plate enjoyed this evening at a favorite joint of mine -- Xai Xai, a South African wine bar in Hell's Kitchen. In case you aren't familiar, Xai Xai is tucked away on a side street between the hussle and bussle of 8th and 9th avenues with a focus on South African wines and cuisine. A lively and energetic place yet with a warm and inviting vibe -- great for a night out with friends or work colleagues, a date or a meal with family -- it is a very versatile place.

Their menu features a variety of small plates with a South African influence. We split their grilled eggplant with goat's cheese, chives, roasted almonds and a South African spiced tomato sauce -- light and silky smooth yet rich and filling with an aromatic and vegetal finish. It is the sort of food that a glass of South African Pinotage would enhance to its fullest.

I've always loved Xai Xai because although a traditional wine bar, it's stood out from the rest as being strictly South African focused and boy does it stay true to its vision in the best sort of ways so if you don't know that much about South African wines and / or foods, I recommend checking it out.

Xai Xai
369 West 51st Street

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 636 : ABC Kitchen

ABC Kitchen is Jean Georges Vongerichten and Phil Suarez's ode to farm to table cooking -- greenmarket focused, local, organic and sustainable cuisine in a beautifully designed space, named Best New Restaurant of 2011 by the James Beard Foundation. Tonight we went for a celebratory meal at a place loved by all.

So what did we have?

We split three small vegetable plates to start, two from their market table (or tapas section) and one that was considered a side:

First up was roasted brussels sprouts with extra virgin olive oil and rosemary -- caramelized to perfection, these little seasonal babies just melted in your mouth. Next up was roasted butternut squash with Parmesan and pumpkin seeds. Cubes of perfectly cooked butternut squash infused with that creamy, nutty, caramelly punch of grated Parmesan and the slight crunch of pumpkin seeds -- an ode to autumnal seasonal cooking.  Lastly was a portabello and celery leaf preparation that did not impress -- the concept was inspired but we weren't impressed with the final product. Our mains however most certainly made up for that. We split their special butterhead lettuce salad with watermelon radishes and a homemade pistachio crumble vinaigrette along with their braised halibut with cabbage, chillies and seaweed. Combining the two into a warm salad was the perfect mixture of crunchy, savory, vegetal, aromatic, nutty goodness! Each and every morsel was fresh, seasonal and delish! We could not have asked for a better celebratory meal!

A place after my own heart, each dish on the menu sounded better than the last, somewhere I could always return to and find something new to have. ABC Kitchen succeeds with its goal of being a market driven, local, sustainable and organic restaurant and boy was it a treat to dine there this evening.

ABC Kitchen
35 East 18th Street

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day 635 : Marathoning.

Congratulations to all the NYC marathon finishers today, what a feat! The NYC marathon is unlike any other -- it's bigger in numbers of participants and spectators than any other race and boy does it have the most fabulous allure. Watching it, if you've never run it, makes you want to pick up distance running and do it, it is just so awe inspiring. For me watching it makes me wish I had run it again this year but there will be plenty more years to come.

Running for me is my stress relief, my time to think and to unwind; my time to meditate and ponder day to day life and all of life's questions -- running makes me me just in the same way my love of cheese, wine, beer and all things food makes me me.

The NYC marathon is sponsored by Grana Padano and I think that's somewhat fitting. It takes this Italian cheese more than a year to grow into its ideal flavor profile -- traditionally longer than it takes one to train for a marathon but it sure shows the perseverance is key to a successful finish just like a marathon.  It goes excellently with your pre race carbo loading of pasta or post race celebration of nibbles and drinks. In terms of flavor profile, there's something quite ideal and necessary about the salty savoriness of this cheese -- salt is necessary after running a marathon and why not have some grana padano instead of salt packets?

So congrats all you NYC finishers and here's to my Philly marathon in two weeks!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 634 : Cheeses for a Girls Movie Night

Good friends, good times, good food, and a good movie are how I plan to spend my Saturday evening...Guess what I'm bringing over?

You guessed it! Cheese!

Which ones?

I decided to get three of my favorite American artisanal cheeses for our movie night:

1. Cremont - A mixed goat and cow's milk cheese with a dollop of cream added in. Crafted by Vermont Butter and Cheese, it is light and tangy, citrusy and grassy and creamy in all the right sort of ways. Crafted as a celebration of Vermont's terroir and boy is it!

2. Carmody - Made entirely with Jersey cow's milk, this Sonoma crafted cheese is silky smooth. Sweet and buttery with hints of nuttiness, this Bellwether Farms original is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

3. Point Reyes Blue - One of my all time favorite West Coasters, this blue cheese is all spice and piquant notes with a fabulous round creaminess to it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Day 633 : What to buy right now from Murray's Cheese

New from the Murray's Cheese Cave Aged Line is the Little Big Apple!

The base of Little Big Apple is the decadently creamy Organic Triple Cream from Champlain Valley Creamery in Vergennes, Vermont. This little guy is crafted with cultured whole milk and cream -- it is the perfect melt in your mouth sort of cheese. Hints of mushroomy earthiness from the bloomy rind and a buttery milky interior abound. Once our Organic Triple Cream cheese arrives at Murray's caves it is wrapped in local apple leaves that have been soaked in local New York state apple brandy. It is then aged for a few more weeks. Then it is ready to enjoy! Yes you still have the mushroom creaminess of the triple cream but now you also have a fabulously fantastic slight rustic earthy sweetness. A true delight and perfect for the Fall! Go out and grab one at Murray's for $10.99 and enjoy it with an off dry Cider from Eve's Cidery or Bellwether Farm's Cider. Trust me, you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 632 : How to Save / How to Splurge Dispatch # 36

In scanning my brain as to what to write for today's dispatch, my mind was triggered by a simple caprese salad I had last night at Lusardi's. I got to thinking about the small monetary difference between buying a mozzarella encased in plastic and those buffalo mozzarellas that are sold sitting in water. Why spend the extra few dollars to get the softer, more luscious, creamy mozzarella right? Well the difference between the ball in plastic costing you five dollars or under and the ball in water costing you closer to ten is the moisture content in the cheese. By dialing up the moisture you dial up the smooth unctuousness of the cheese and there for just a few extra dollars you are able to transform an average everyday cheese into a special occasion cheese. Sometimes as well all know spending a few extra dollars goes far...

As an end note, I know you are thinking can't I buy the cheap version and put it in water? Save the money but still get the appropriate tastes that I want?  Sure you can try it but it simply won't be as good or as satisfying as the actual buffalo mozzarella purchased as the cheesemaker intended to have the cheese rest.

Maybe this isn't that go buy this instead of that sort of post, but its one of those posts that is meant to make you as a Fromagical reader think about the difference in taste and flavor profile one receives between these two different mozzarellas and other cheeses...sometimes spending an extra $3 to $5 totally changes your cheese eating experience for the better...

Day 631 : SCS Version 9.0, Dispatch #3

Coming at you a little late, but be prepared for back to back doses of Fromagical posts today...

Diving right into this week's cheese selection from Mexico and Texas, I went with firm cheeses from each locale...

Hailing from Texas and the Veldhuizen Family Farm in Dublin is Paragon. This cheese was concocted by Stuart Veldhuizen while he was experimenting with cheese recipes and boy was it a welcome surprise. Crafted with cow's milk and aged for approximately three months, it is a semi firm cheese that does an excellent job at coating each and every crevice of your mouth. Tangy and slightly nutty with a buttery milky caramelly roundness, it sure is a crowd pleaser, easily approachable yet unique and delish.

And what of our Mexican counterpart?

How about Queso Anejo? It is crafted most of the time with skimmed cow's milk but is meant to be made with skimmed goat's milk, which as we know is hard to come by in Mexico. It has that classic Parmesan consistency with excellent aged crystallization, hints of butterscotch and caramelly nuttiness with a nice amount of salty savory tang on the tongue. Over the course of it's aging process it is coated in paprika which dials up the aromatic spiciness of the cheese. It is utilized widely in Mexican cooking and is perfect for baking and grilling purposes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 630 : A bit of a change up today, SCS spotlights will return tomorrow.

I decided I had to do a bit of a change up today because I simply wanted to explain how I felt returning to the Cellars at Beechers last night. Each time I go, although I like the atmosphere, the wine list, the mac n' cheese and other food options, I always am disappointed with their cheese selections. Yes of course they have the cheeses that they produce themselves, each fabulous in its own way, but the other cheeses that they fill their list with are not necessarily the cheeses that I would choose when just one flight upstairs they have an excellent selection of American artisanal cheeses. And even if they did keep the same list, I would expect to see way more than fifteen options.

They have the Northeastern greats like Kunik, Bayley Hazen Blue, Rupert, Ouray and the such and the Western greats like Rogue River's Blue and Bellwether farms' Carmody to name a few. But I think it would be fantastic since to really delve deeply into an exploration of American cheeses and split up their cheese selections in the Cellar into areas of the country and allow people to explore the different types of cheeses crafted in places as far flung as Iowa, Maine, Georgia, Illinois, and more. They have the added benefit of being one of the only retail, production, and consumption cheese locations in the city -- you can go buy some cheese, watch it be made, and then enjoy that cheese downstairs with a glass of wine all in the same space! They shouldn't just have a decent cheese list, they should go above and beyond!

Don't get me wrong, I think the Cellars at Beechers are great for a drink and a nibble with friends but I just wish that they took what they have done with their cheese production and cheese retail and extended it a little further into their cheese offerings. I will definitely be back many times as it is such a nice meeting place.

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