Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 778 : Is plaid in? Did I miss the memo?

This evening after a last minute change in plans, I met a friend for a glass of wine, some nibbles and girl talk at Medi, a newish Mediterranean wine bar in Hell's Kitchen. Walking into the sleek and sexy yet comfortable and rustic room with exposed brick and springtime branches, I was excited. In the summer months their back garden could be an excellent place to keep in mind and the winter months, drinks in their cozy subterranean cellar would be nice, but tonight we stayed inside and in their main space. We grabbed some seats at the bar and couldn't help but noticing first off that each of the waiters was wearing a different color and style of a plaid shirt. Ok just because the waiters were all wearing plaid would not change my opinion of the restaurant, just an interesting observation. The team in plaid although very helpful and concerned about you as the diner/consumer having a lovely evening were maybe a little too involved in our well being so much so that the bartender even crafted his own concoctions for my friend. Each was a riff on a classic Cucumber martini -- one completely different than the first. Nice to see a bartender experiment but maybe not on his customers? The first drink was lovely though so he knew what he was doing...

What to go with the drinks? How about a Mediterranean cheese plate?

Cheese plate arrives -- the waiter/bartender makes eye contact as though he is going to explain the cheeses  and then just plops it down between us. The cheeses were not laid out in order of increasing strength or age or well anything. First there was a young Manchego style cheese then an aged Parmesan then Drunken Goat and lastly a Brie -- not enough difference between the cheese for you to feel like you had a full on tasting experience with a broad range of flavor profiles. I also think that it might have been nice for them to have a list of six cheeses that folks could choose from the options and really focus on some of the excellent cheeses from the Mediterranean region, of which there are tons. For a space that clearly thought out the decor and the other menu items, it seems like they just added the cheese plate on to round out the menu. I would need to try a proper meal at a point to rate their cooked dishes rather than just the cheese. But I feel like a good restaurant/wine bar of this nature should wow in terms of cheese as well -- don't we all go out to eat to discover new tastes and flavors? A lovely time with a close friend and delish springy rose to drink, I would go to try their food. It is a welcome addition to the neighborhood and was packed to the gills but you could still hear your dining companions.

811 9th avenue

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 777 : Of celebrations, bubbles, and other fabulous things

This evening I had the opportunity of going to an event with the Ruinart Chef de Cave at Whitehall Bar + Kitchen and I got to thinking about the classic champagne and cheese pairings and how sometimes stepping outside of the box and doing the unexpected is the most fun.

Ruinart's rose champagne is one of my favorite champagnes -- it's delicate and flavorful yet refined and elegant, approachable but developed. It is the sort of champagne that can stand alone or be paired with foods and work each and every time. So this evening I got to thinking about what my favorite Ruinart Rose cheese pairing would be and I determined it would be Vermont Butter & Cheese's Coupole.

Full disclosure -- maybe that's because these are too of my favorites enjoyed together but also because I truly think they work.

Coupole is a geotrichum ripened aged pasteurized goat's milk cheese that is modeled on the Loire Valley greats but is completely it's own Vermont creation -- milky, chalky, citrusy, and crisp with a nice refreshing and tangy finish. The mineral acidity of the cheese finds its counterpart in the bubbly and the red berry nutty notes of the bubbly go hand in hand with the dense brightness of the cheese. An elegant and springy pairing of my favorite French bubbles and Vermont goat's milk cheeses.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 776 : Grilled Cheese lunches...

Today Fromagical hosted a fun grilled cheese lunch featuring four different ages of cheddar with distinct pairings based on the flavor profile of each cheddar's age.

The one thing that remained constant was the fact that each grilled cheese utilized Vermont Butter & Creamery's cultured butter and of course an aged cheddar.

With the young, creamy, milky and dense one year aged cheddar we did a spring-y pairing on rosemary ciabatta with a melange of fresh rosemary, thyme, anise, and basil. Aromatic, herbaceous, and enlivening -- this was an upbeat grilled cheese perfect for the youngster cheese.

With the middle two year aged cheddar that was slightly biting and spicy with a nice milky sharpness we did thin slices of golden delicious apples and prosciutto on whole wheat walnut raisin bread. Fruity, tangy, meaty, cheesy all rolled into one yummy gooey melted sandwich.

With the three year aged cheddar we did a white fig raisin compote with wildflower honey and sel de la guerande on Sourdough Pullman. The perfect salty sweet savory blend -- it was really about the purity of the ingredients here -- the cheese has developed a nice nutty, butterscotchy, caramelly, crumbly bent at this age that was accentuated with the rustic sweetness of the fig.

And lastly with our old guy, there was homemade roasted tomato sauce and caramelized onions with a basil leaf on sourdough pullman. Flavorful and rustic with an aromatic bent, the cheese has now become very crystallized and crumbly with a nice roasty, toasty, nutty, butterscotchy feel and with the warming tomato sauce and the sweetness of the onions, this was an excellent way to round out the grilled cheese selections.

Isn't fun to see what one cheese can become depending on age and how the pairings with the four year would not necessarily work with the one year and the reverse?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 775 : Event Alert Deal!

In our current day and age we are constantly surrounded with digital opportunities to save in one way or another -- get these deal for five yoga classes for the price of three or that deal for a free appetizer and a glass of sparkling wine at your local restaurant, you name it, there seems to always be an opportunity to get more bang for your buck.

Today I came across one such deal that if you are interested in taking a cheese and wine pairing class I think this is an awesome opportunity!

For $75, instead of $125 you get a ticket to a two hour Italian Wine and Cheese class on April 24th led by Max McCalman (one of the city and country's top cheese experts) and Nicole Niebisch (the head wine curator at the awesome online wine site, Lot18) along with a sparkling wine and fondue reception upon arrival and a $20 gift certificate to buy cheese after the fact on The class will feature seven different cheeses and four different wines. You'll even leave with two cheeses to take home that night!

Sign up here:

Or perhaps you want to participate in a Meat and Cheese CSA deal?

Fret not, through UrbanDaddy's Perks today you can sign up for a full or half share of a summertime Meat & Cheese CSA direct to your apartment from the hills of Pennsylvania through Greystone Farms.

A half share includes four deliveries totaling twenty five pounds of meat and four pounds of cheese for $350.
A full share includes four deliveries totaling fifty pounds of meat and eight pounds of cheese for $660.

Why not support a local farm and have yummy goods delivered to your doorstep all summer? Great for BBQs, picnics in the park, you name it!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 774 : Sometimes we all just want some good ole fashioned comfort

In under a week, the temperature in NYC has gone from 75 - 76 degrees to a current 37 which for me means it's back to red wine, cozy covers, and warm, comforting food. Comfort food to me is really individual specific and at its core, it's been to make you feel at ease and least in its ideal form...

What's your comfort food? Is it something you love to cook and enjoy the relaxing part of cooking or is it something from your favorite deli or restaurant that you've enjoyed for your years or is it something that takes you back to your childhood that you've rediscovered in adult life? 

Disclaimer -- I've always loved sauteed bananas. I enjoyed them as a child and the love never wore off -- bananas diced and sauteed with some EVOO, cinnamon, nutmeg and a little sea salt and I am over the moon. So I thought why not make a grilled cheese utilizing my favorite sauteed bananas some Vermont Butter and Cheese's Fromage Blanc, roasted almonds, sunflower seeds and diced up dates. Somewhat like breakfast for dinner but boy was this simple sandwich just what I needed after a long day and the sudden windy coldness.

To prepare:

Grab a nice whole wheat/multigrain loaf of bread and slice two slices. Put those to the side. Let's start with sauteing your bananas over low heat with as previously mentioned, EVOO, cinnamon, nutmeg and a little sea salt. Once your bananas are done, grab your Fromage Blanc, almonds and sliced dates and combine on top of a piece of bread and toast away. Light yet with a slight crunch from the almonds and a nice comforting warmth from the bananas with the tangy citrus milky brightness of the Fromage Blanc -- the perfect "oh it feels like winter again" sandwich for a late Monday evening supper.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day 773 : A bite at Malaparte

Where to eat after an afternoon stroll on the Highline that won't be over crowded and overpriced?

What about Malaparte?

Small, cute, neighborhoody and unassuming with delish and approachable Italian food with a nice affordable wine list. Rustic and homey with friendly waitstaff, this was a great place to grab a bite and watch the world go by on a nice sunny day or cozy up inside over a glass of red wine.

Their thin crust twelve inch pizzas are fresh and delish, not too heavy or overly gloppy as pizzas can sometimes be and their pizza with mozzarella, fennel, and parmesan was perfectly springy and light with a nice creamy aromatic bent. Not in the mood for a pizza, they have salads, pastas, mains, and more. Know before you go -- they only take cash.

753 Washington Street

Day 772 : Eataly Round Two

I had not been to Eataly since it's opening weekend in 2010 when I reviewed it and wrote how I found it to be a tourist trap but Friday afternoon I returned to hopefully enjoy a drink with a few good friends after a long week at Birreria, the roof top beer garden. Walking in and over to the area where one accessed Birreria, I was told by the hostess that there was an 80 person wait at the bar and no I wasn't allowed to go upstairs to find my friends. I couldn't even call and reach them because there is pretty much no cell phone service in Eataly -- or well it fades in and out. Keep in mind this was before 6pm, not even prime going out time. I meandered around thinking there is no way they had already made it upstairs and sure enough there wasn't, they were standing have a drink in the meats and cheeses section. After ordering a glass of rose, a friend and I ventured over to the area where they were giving out samples of cheese, both American cheeses in an Italian establishment. We were standing talking briefly about the flavors of one of the cheeses when the woman who was serving the cheese asked us "to please move along and allow for the paying customers to try." First off - how would she possibly have known we weren't paying customers? Which we would have probably turned out to be! Second off - the complete and utter lack of customer service was astounding. This is a people business and when you don't treat potential customers with respect, they are very unlikely to return. And the shocking thing is it didn't stop there, not only did our waiter shove our group into a tiny corner of one of these tall tables when there was other space at nearby tables, the original forty-five minute wait for Birreria kept getting longer and after an hour and a half we gave up and left to find a place with good customer service and tables to sit down at.

What a disappointment.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 771 : Early Summertime TGIF Pairing

It feels like summertime arrived early to New York City that's for sure! And with summertime comes rose wine in my mind so I thought today would be the perfect day to suggest a TGIF Rose and cheese pairing!

I recently rediscovered Paumanok's Dry Rose hailing from the North Fork and I'm in love with it. It's everything an approachable yet dynamic and developed Long Island rose should be! Made with a blend of 61 % Cabernet Franc and 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a very pale rose in terms of color. Bright and crisp yet with notes of rose, red berries, citrus, and hints of peaches, this is summertime bottled in a wine. Long walks on the beach, sunsets with your toes curled into the sand, nighttime barbecues, and the sound of waves crashing on the shore.

What to pair with this brilliant rose?

How about the Utah born Seahive cheese from Beehive Cheese Company in Uintah, Utah. Seahive is hand rubbed with local Beehive wildflower honey and Redmond RealSalt. Round, bright and full bodied yet creamy, tangy, nutty and light, this cheese boasts elegant flowery sweetness with a savory briny finish.
The flowery notes of the wine will find their counterpart in those of the cheese and the creamy sweetness of the cheese will be excellently offset by the crisp acidity of the wine.

So get outside and enjoy some rose folks!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 770 : The Amazing Real Live Food Company

This is regional dairy produce that sets itself apart from the crowd! Hailing from Pine Plains in the Hudson Valley, is the Amazing Real Live Food Company whose goal is to produce as they say "restorative food and drink"...and..."to make vital products that honor our body as a living organism and promote its good health."All of their products are produced utilizing probiotics and key digestive enzymes to not only nourish but also stimulate and enliven the body. These are cheeses and foods that are meant to make you feel good about eating them and about yourself!

This evening we had their Moonlight Chaource modeled on classic Loire Valley aged goat's milk cheeses like Saint Maure but completely unique and terroir specific to the Hudson Valley. Boasting a bloomy rind with an ashen exterior and a fantastic cream line separating the dense chalky milky bright interior. Light yet flavorful, creamy yet not too rich, rustic and earthy yet citrusy, grassy and alive. This cheese is great with a glass of Millbrook Tocai Friulano.

Harder than other regional cheeses to find, I first discovered The Amazing Real Live Food Company at a food tasting last year and recently rediscovered it through Fresh Direct's local produce section. Found at many farmer's markets in the Hudson Valley, it does not have the same distribution in the city so it's worth grabbing some from Fresh Direct, I guarantee you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day 769 : Happy First Day of Spring!

What cheese should we have today?

How about Cypress Grove's Purple Haze?

Fresh chevre infused with fennel pollen and lavender hailing from California?

Image courtesy of

Aromatic, herbaceous, alive, and fresh -- just what you want to awaken your senses as the daffodils begin to bloom and the sun shines for longer hours.

So happy spring folks! Get out there and enjoy!

Day 768 : Event Alert! Vermont Cheesemakers Festival tickets on sale!

Gosh I cannot believe it's that time of year again! But it is!

It's time to buy your tickets for the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival -- one of the best events of the summer if you ask me! Held at the picturesque Coach Barn of Shelburne Farms overlooking Lake Champlain, this day long event on July 22nd is an opportunity to taste cheese from over forty different Vermont creameries, wines and beers from 20 different Vermont breweries and wineries, and delish nibbles from 20 small-production food purveyors offering tastes of everything from breads to maple syrups to pickles and more.

Why not make a weekend out of it?

Buy tickets here:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Day 767 : Whitehall Bar + Kitchen

Brought to you by the fantastic  team behind Mary Queen of Scots and the Highlands, Whitehall Bar + Kitchen opened in the West Village in late 2011 in the old Sweetiepie space. Coined as a Modern British joint known for its gin selection, I knew this was a place that was going to be after my heart. Slight disclaimer, in case you don't know -- if I'm not drinking wine, I'm probably drinking gin, so I knew I was going to be a fan of Whitehall Bar + Kitchen.

Entering the restaurant, the space walked an excellent line between rustic farmsteady chic and sleek modern cool. The cocktail menu boasted an array of your classic gin cocktails like Negronis, Aviations and Sloe Gin Fizz's but they also had eight house made and invented cocktails, each simply named with a number. As the manager told me their other two places have a cocktail list with all of these long drawn out names that people get confused about so instead of creating more complicated drinks here he said, why not list everything with a number? That sense of simplicity yet thought out elegance in a casual manner was carried throughout the meal and decor.

So what did I order to drink?

The number #4 -- a perfect blend of bright refreshing flavors with a nice citrusy tang and smooth finish composed of Greenall's Gin, Yellow Chartreuse, Lemon, Fresh muddled ginger, and house blended orange bitters. The cocktail was perfect with each and every dish we ordered.

What did we start with?

A selection of six of their daily oysters along with their special house cured salmon served with pickled radishes and a savory celery panna cotta. The oysters were stellar - fresh and full of briny body just the way one wants. The house cured salmon was an inventive take on the classic basic format of smoked fish, citrus, cream combination that one finds often in Northern European restaurants. Here it was elevated with the texture of the celery panna cotta which brought a whole new dynamic to the dish. A great way to start off the meal.

Then we split their Spiced Butternut Squash Salad with toasted almonds, lemon feta and watercress along with their Grilled Mackerel with a pickled red onion and potato salad, butter lettuce, and a lemon mustard dressing. We also split a side upon recommendation of their mushy pea fritters topped with mint yogurt -- an ode to the English fry-ups and English peas but with their own flair. Each dish was savory and dynamic -- doing a little flavor dance on your palate -- classic Northern European / British dishes revamped and reconstructed in a sleek manner.

The meal with brilliant and definitely worth a trip back -- whether its just for cocktails or for dinner and drinks or brunch.

Whitehall Bar + Kitchen
19 Greenwich Ave.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day 766 : Here's to the Four Leaf Clover and the Luck of the Irish

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Were you on 5th avenue watching the parade? Or perhaps on the banks of a green river in Chicago or maybe just at a raucous bar in South Boston? There's something about St Patty's Day that brings people out in droves, Irish or not -- corned beef and hash, Guinness, or Jameson, everyone chooses their own way to celebrate. Maybe yours is staying as far away from the madness but still wanting to do something festive?

Well then I recommend grabbing some Cashel Blue - my absolute favorite Irish Blue crafted by the Grubb family in County Tipperary. The Grubb family originally settled in the region in the 1700s but it wasn't till the mid 20th century that they began manufacturing dairy products and it wasn't till 1984 that Cashel Blue came into existence.

Cashel Blue is a semi soft farmstead cow's milk blue that is aged for anywhere between two and four months. This cheese is simultaneously round, unctuous and approachable yet spicy, piquant, tangy, biting, and dynamic -- the best of both worlds. It appeals to the amateur blue cheese palate as well as the developed one. It truly is an Irish born Blue that sets itself apart from the crowd in all the best ways. Not really perfect with a beer, but perhaps a nice Jameson on the rocks or even a glass of Sauternes.

On this St Patrick's Day, I wish to share to all of you a classic Irish blessing of luck:

May you always have...
Walls for the winds
A roof for the rain
Tea beside the fire
Laughter to cheer you
Those you love near you
And all your heart might desire.

Happy St Patty's Day!

Day 765 : Cheddar Hot and Cold Crostini

Apropos our in depth look at the aging process of Cheddars, I decided to make both a hot and cold crostini utilizing two different vintages of cheddar.

Cold Crostini:

2 year aged Cabot
Fuji Apple slices
Slices of Cucumber
Lettuce Leaf
Rye Bread

Paired with Ravines Keuka White

Hot Crostini

Homemade tomato pepper sauce - Smoked Paprika, herbes de provence, sea salt, black pepper, two plum tomatoes, half of red pepper and some basil leaves. Cooked down to caramelized. Topped with five year aged cheddar on crunchy flax seed crackers.

Paired with Primo Primitivo.

Each crostini exhibits the inherent qualities of each cheddar and how they differ as they age -- almost two totally different cheeses but yet the same.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Day 764 : Aging and cheese

Yesterday I participated in a really fun Vintage vertical Cheddar and Veuve Clicquot Champagne tasting that we will explore in depth over the weekend on the blog but for the moment, I thought it would be interesting to have a bit of a discussion about aging specifically with cheddars. 

Cheddar production dates back to approximately the 12th century in South Western England, more specifically the counties of Somerset, Cornwall, Devon and Dorset which to this day are the only places that have a PDO (protected designation of origin), all other cheddars produced in England and world wide do not.

Your first question before we get into the manner in which the flavor profile of cheddar changes with age is probably, what exactly is cheddar and how does it differentiate from other cheeses?

Cheddar style cheeses are based on the process of cheddaring which is when after the cheese curds are heated and salted, they are cut into cubes and stacked and turned so as to drain the whey. This process is repeated and is the reason that cheddars tend to be denser than other cheeses.

Just like the flavor profile of a wine or champagne deepens and develops with age, the same goes for cheeses. Cheddar is one of the only cheeses in America that you can see the drastic difference in flavor profile over time as one is able to enjoy cheddars aged for anywhere from six months to fifteen years.

Young cheddars are round, friendly, milky, slightly sweet, and very approachable. Great for grilled cheeses, six to nine month aged cheddars are simple and straight forward in a comforting way.

As a cheddar gains a little bit more age on it, say even just one year of age, one notices that there is a slight deepening of flavor -- milkiness is still on the forefront, but there is a tang that develops, a nice little biting tinge to the cheese. Still approachable but certainly drier than its younger counterpart.

A year later, your cheddar will become nuttier and more crumbly, yet still bright however with hints of a caramelly bent developing. A sense of depth of flavor profile will become apparent, two years does a cheddar well. Big and bold, this is the first time I think a cheddar could stand up to a nice medium bodied red wine.

Checking back in at three years, your cheddar has become much more crumbly and is beginning to develop that classic aged cheese crystallization. Much more tangy and biting, this cheese reaches each and every crevice of your mouth in the right sort of ways -- savory yet with a nutty, caramelly, buttterscotchy side to it, this is a great cheese for a nice big beer paired with some walnuts and a crusty baguette.

Two years later at five years, our cheddar is super duper crumbly and the first thing you notice is the color has darkened and that aged crystallization is at the forefront. Think aged Parmesan but with a dialed up savory quotient, this makes your lips pucker in all the right sort ways. The caramel, butterscotch and nutty notes are still present but there is suddenly a rustic barnyardy sensibility to it. This cheese can stand up to the big Italian reds, no problem where as its six month old version would be lost with a glass of big Italian red. 

As the cheddar gets older, it becomes more tangy, sharper, crystallized and more caramelly. It will go from a very friendly, very approachable easy to enjoy cheese to one that is complex, dynamic, and nuanced. I look forward to sharing the tasting notes and photos from yesterday's fabulous tasting with you all shortly.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Day 763 : Happy π Day!

It's 3/14 or otherwise known as the mathematical constant, π day! In honor of Pi or Pie day many people enjoyed apple pies hopefully with a nice thick slice of cheddar on top or perhaps a slice of a pizza pie. So in honor or π day I thought I would give you a list of my top pizza places in the city:

1. Co - My absolute favorite pizza place -- Jim Lahey's no knead thin crust inventive pizza joint with communal seating and a fun, casual, and slight rustic atmosphere. Don't expect straight forward slices here, you won't find them.
2. Lombardi's - The classic downtown pizza joint, it's been around since just before the turn of the 20th century and is routinely fantastic.
3. Arturo's - Old world Italian red sauce meets downtown hip meets Jazz era cool in this Soho standby.
4. Roberta's - Brooklyn DIY meets locavore chic meets artisanal ingredients -- what do you get? Some of the best pizza you can find in any of the fire boroughs. 
5. Joe's -- Slice to go? The place to go is Joe's. An NYC institution since the 70s. 
6. Bleecker Street Pizza -- Well if you don't like Joe's, their Sicilian slice is pretty gosh darn good.
7. Keste - Gluten free pizza that is actually excellent in a chill environment? Creative thin crusted pizzas? Step out of Manhattan and into a small pizzeria in Italy. 
8. Motorino - This place just exudes cool and boy does it earn it's reputation -- you cannot go wrong with anything you order here -- each pie is better than the last. Prepare yourself for a wait for a table. 

I know you're thinking why didn't she mention the cult pizza places like DiFara's and Grimaldi's? I've never had the pleasure of trying DiFara's and Grimaldi's I've just not been impressed with, unfortunately.

Your next question is what about Artichoke?

I find Artichoke slices to feel like two meals rolled into one slice of pizza -- its simply too rich for me, but don't get me wrong, it's some people's top choice and that's for them to decide.

So happy π day folks!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day 762 : In time for St Patty's -- Murray's Cavemaster Reserve

Looking forward to celebrating the luck of the Irish? In the mood for some green beer or maybe whiskey is more your speed? Well if so, I recommend you getting yourself to Murray's Cheese this week to try out their extra special cheese crafted for St Patrick's Day and strictly for your enjoyment -- Across the Pond infused with Wrassler's Oyster Stout.

Step one : What is Across the Pond?

Across the Pond is an Irish inspired, New York crafted, washed rind raw cow's milk cheese hailing from Keeley's Cheese Company in King Ferry, NY. It's a semi soft stinky washed rinded cheese that is barnyardy and ripe on the exterior but creamy, luscious, unctuous, and slightly pungent on the interior. Think Taleggio mixed with Tomme de Savoie but with that "je ne sais quoi" of New York state cheesemaking.

So Murray's has taken this fantastic round of cheese and washed it in Wrassler's Oyster Stout to give it this lactic, roasty, toasty, malty, bent that just dials the cheese up quite a few notches to make it absolutely perfect for St Patty's Day.

Don't forget to grab a morsel and a bottle of Jameson and celebrate the luck of the Irish on Saturday or today or tomorrow, whenever you feel like it!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Day 761 : Grilled Cheese, Kobayashi, SXSW, GroupMe Grill

Ever heard of GroupMe? If not, well here's what it does -- it allows you to connect with anyone in your life via group text message. Friends, family, coworkers, workout buddies, you name it, this free app for any phone allows you to combine people into groups and communicate with them all at once. Pretty cool, right? Well at SXSW this past weekend they sponsored for the second year in a row what was known as the GroupMe Grill -- a PR / promotional event where if you had Groupme on your phone, you got a free grilled cheese.

Image courtesy of

Too bad we weren't at SXSW to get a free grilled cheese, but a new grilled cheese record was set this past weekend at the GroupMe Grill that is definitely worth covering here on the blog:

Takeru Kobayashi, of Nathan's Hot Dog eating contests' fame ate thirteen grilled cheeses in one minute to smash through the prior grilled cheese record. The prior record was 49 grilled cheeses in ten minutes and was set by Joey Chestnut. Part gross, part just totally amazing, it surely is notable cheese news!

Image courtesy of

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Day 760 : Breakfast for dinner after a long weekend

There's something pretty fabulous and comforting about breakfast for dinner - warming and delish, it's just the perfect thing after a long weekend of work.

How about a goat cheese, kale & zucchini egg white omelet topped with a homemade tomato, herb, Parmesan and eggplant sauce? Enjoyed with a nice glass of Channing Daughters Rosso Fresco, this sounds like just the ticket tonight!

Let's start with the tomato sauce - dice up half an eggplant and three plum tomatoes. Place in a sauté pan with some EVOO, herbes de Provence, fresh basil, crushed red pepper flakes, smoked paprika for that nice aromatic kick, some sea salt and a drop of crushed black pepper. Cover and cook over low heat for fifteen minutes. Stir occasionally. While your tomato sauce is cooking, crack three eggs into a bowl and whip with some sea salt. Whipping eggs makes them fluffy. Place that to the side and chop up a third of a zucchini and some kale. Now pour your whipped egg whites into a greased and warm pan over low heat. Let them cook till they start going opaque, then add in your zucchini, kale and some fresh chèvre. Top with sea salt and black pepper. Cook over low heat.

Once your eggs are done, approximately two to five minutes before you pull off your tomato sauce and in a handful of Parmesan and stir till the cheese has combined into you sauce and then pull off the stove. Place your tomato sauce over your egg whites for an excellently light yet filling dinner after a long day. Have a sip of wine and enjoy.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Day 759: Dinner at Cercle Rouge

French bistro in Tribeca with reliable food and a fun atmosphere for a catchup with a close girl friend - extensive menu and a nice wine list? Try Cercle Rouge at 241 West Braodway.

What to have with your glasses of red wine after the week?

Order the caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese tart with black olives and a side of mesclun salad. Along with the cheese plate offering the washed rind stinker Epoisses as the superstar last night and two others. It takes a pretty fabulous restaurant to showcase Epoisses I think since it is definitely not for the amateur palate.

Overall great cheese centric bites, lovely wine, good conversation in a fun lively atmosphere. Perfect for a Friday evening.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Day 758 : Event Alert! Good Dairy!

I just learned about a really cool event taking place at Openhouse Gallery on April 25th from 6 till 9pm -- Good Dairy. Good Dairy will celebrate Edible Manhattan's and Edible Brooklyn's Good Dairy issues with a variety of the top dairy producers in and around NYC -- everything from cheese to milk to butter and yogurt. Don't worry, you won't be thirsty either, there will be regional wine, beer, and spirits producers there as well!

So get your tickets now before they sell out:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Day 757 : It's that time of year again....

St Pat's is available in stores....meaning that its springtime! Time for change the clocks this weekend, shed some layers and get out and enjoy the weather.

What is St Pat's you might be wondering?

It is Cowgirl Creamery's springtime cheese wrapped in nettles. Bloomy rinded, creamy and unctuous, this cheese is a delight on the palate and a surefire sign that springtime is on the horizon. Enjoy with a glass of Chenin Blanc and look forward to warmer weather, brighter longer days, and frolicking outdoors!

Image courtesy of

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day 756 : When going to the Armory Show at the Piers....

Not sure where to head after a day at the Fair? Don’t want to travel too far but want a drink or nibble, perhaps with a colleague or a client or a loved one meeting you at the end of the day, Fromagical brings you recommendations for each and every occasion.


44 at the Royalton, 44 West 44th Street, (212) 869-4400  – Looking for an old fashioned yet chic and sleek hotel bar with surprisingly affordable cocktails near Times Square with live jazz to boot?
The Lambs Club, 132 West 44th Street, (212) 997-5262 – Needing to impress that big spender of a client? Drinks at their swank upstairs cocktail lounge would be an excellent choice.
Marseille, 630 9th Avenue, (212) 333-2323 – French bistro calling your name?
Caselulla, 401 West 52nd Street, (212) 247-8137 – The most extensive cheese selection in Hell’s Kitchen – a great spot to enjoy some cheese and wine.
Ardesia, 510 West 52nd Street, (212) 247-9191 – Open and airy wine bar, probably the closest spot to the piers so watch for over crowding, but if you can get a seat, it’s worth it. Order their pretzels, you won’t be disappointed, I guarantee.
Medi , 811 9th Avenue, (212) 586-1201 – Looking for that small production Croatian wine? Look no further than here.
The Pony Bar, 637 10th Avenue, (212) 586-2707 – Craft beer lover? Then Pony is your choice.
The Library Bar at the Hudson Hotel , 356 West 58th Street, (212) 554-6000 – chic, swank, leather club chairs, need I say more.  
Print / Press, 653 11th Avenue, (212) 757-2224 – Local ingredient driven food at the modern ground floor restaurant. Stunning views and excellent cocktails more than a few stories up at Press.
Riposo 46, 667 9th Avenue, (212) 247-8018 – Classic wine bar environment – go for the flatbread pizzas, my personal favorite is their Wild Mushroom.
Xai Xai , 365 West 51st Street , (212) 541-9241– South African wines galore at this sensually lit wine bar.
Pier 9, 802 9th Avenue , (212) 262-1299– Nautically themed. Half priced wines and cocktails at happy hour. Laid back and casual.
Blue Ribbon Sushi Six, 308 West 58th Street , (212) 397-0404– Downtown hip meets Uptown dressed up at this excellent sushi joint.
Robert, 2 Columbus Avenue, (212) 299-7730 – Located far above the hustle and bustle of Columbus Circle, this American artisanal restaurant in the Museum of Arts and Design has a view that extends all the way up Central Park West.
Avoce, 10 Columbus Circle, 3rd of the Time Warner Building, (212) 823-2523 – Chic Italian overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park – buzzing and excellent vibe at the bar.
Danji, 346 West 52nd Street, (212) 586-2880 – Korean in Hell’s Kitchen? Small plates casual meets upscale dining at this modern Korean joint.
Taboon, 773 10th Avenue, (212) 713-0271 – Middleterranean cuisine, yes you heard right. That would be fusion Middle Eastern and Mediterranean in a rustic loft space with soft lighting.
Stone Rose, 10 Columbus Circle, Time Warner Center, (212) 823-9769 – High rise swank meets cocktail chic at this lounge on the 4th floor of the Time Warner Center.

Epicerie Boulud, 1900 Broadway , (212) 595-9606– Daniel Boulud’s first take-out joint where you can cozy up into the small bar area and enjoy fresh oysters and a glass of wine or perhaps indulge in some of their fabulous cheese selections curated by Saxelby Cheesemongers or simply grab some of their fantastic homemade bread seen featured in his many restaurants around town. It’s actually a little corner dedicated to Daniel Boulud -- right next door are both Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud, each excellent choices.
 Lincoln, 142 West 65th Street, (212) 359-6500 – Jonathan Benno’s upscale Italian highly modernist chic restaurant in the renovated Lincoln Center – great people watching, solid and delish food, gorgeous design and a nice wine list.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Day 755 : Recap of Taste of Home

Taste of Home is the third annual Housing Works culinary themed benefit and tasting designed to raise money and awareness for Housing Works's outstanding efforts and services specifically geared towards homeless and low-income people living with HIV/AIDS. Hosted by Ruth Reichl and Alex Guarnaschelli in the fabulous Housing Works Bookstore on Crosby Street, the tasting boasted bites from Michael White, Bill Dorrier (Osteria Morini), Gabe Thompson (L'Artusi, dell'anima & Anfora), Josh Capon (Lure Fishbar, B&B Winepub), Brendan McHale (Tasting Table), Ivy Stark (Dos Caminos), Paul Buese (The Works Catering) along with cheese from Murray's.

Housing Works expected over the course of the evening at least three hundred people in the space, thankfully we had the pleasure of going before the crowds descended on the somewhat intimate room.

View of the stairwell and interior of the bookshop

Walking into the warm and inviting old school bookshop with shelves from floor to ceiling, your first stop was the drinks table. There were cocktails curated by Tasting Table, Red & White Wines by Broadbent Selections and Beer from Whole Foods. I decided I had to taste their "Vero Beach" cocktail -- Gin, Tonic, Lemon, Dry Vermouth, Simple Sugar, Mandarin Liqueur, and Angostura Bitters. Right up my alley in terms of flavor profile but maybe a little much for me on a Monday evening before 7pm -- this cocktail surely packed a punch, definitely in a good way though. Glad I tried it, but perhaps a glass of Malbec was a better decision.

Moving right along, the next stop was the Murray's Cheese table. They offered three different cheeses : Hittisau, an Austrian aged raw cow's milk Alpine style cheese; Fleur du Maquis, a Corsican pasteurized sheep's milk delight that is rubbed with herbs (rosemary, savory, chili peppers, and juniper berries during its aging process; and Cabot's Clothbound Cheddar. A nice assortment of cheese styles and flavors designed to delight the amateur and the developed cheese palates alike. I especially loved Hittisau with its sweet nutty notes and its rustic barnyardy roundness as it is not a cheese I have had as often as the Fleur du Maquis and the Cabot -- both of which are equally fantastic and staples in my fridge. 

Next stop, the Tasting Table bite entitled "The L.E.S." -- Smoked trout, an everything bagel crisp, herb gelee and pickles. This was totally the elegantly dressed up hors d'oeuvres version of your full out bagel sandwich equivalent that you might pick up on a Saturday morning at Russ and Daughters. Savory and fresh, the perfect mouthful if you ask me.

Right next to the LES bite, it was time to go Mexican with Ivy Stark's and Dos Caminos' Guacamole and Chips. Delish, fresh, and creamy guacamole served with crispy yet not greasy chips were on offer here. A safe and straight-forward choice done well! 

Moving right along to Michael White and Bill Dorrier (Altamarea Group: Marea, Osteria Morini, Ai Fiori, Due Terre, Due Mari, and Al Moro) and their polpettine di Mortadella -- decadent and rich meatballs everyone said were delectable. Not eating meat however, it would be hard for me to contribute to the conversation.

Next stop was at Josh Capon's table (Lure Fishbar, B&B Winepub) which was sparsely adorned with homemade deviled eggs with American Paddlefish Caviar. Retro-inspired with a contemporary twist, these simple and straight forward morsels were designed to be smooth, sleek and approachable. 

Last stop was Gabe Thompson's table with a fish ceviche topped with fruit and chili dressing and a pancetta, scallion aioli, and greens crostini. The ceviche just melted in your mouth -- aromatic with a fantastic depth of flavor profile, this was a morsel that was meant to awaken your senses and boy did it!

Overall a really fun evening in a great space with excellent hosts and for a good cause -- what more could you ask for on a Monday night? Thank you Housing Works for a great beginning to the week!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Day 754 : Landmarc Time Warner Brunchtime

Landmarc is Marc Murphy's chic and sleek bistro style restaurant on the 3rd floor of the Time Warner Center with another branch down in Tribeca. An extensive menu offering something to satisfy every palate without breaking the bank and an excellent wine list. However, don't try to order a glass of wine, they only have half bottles. They open at 7am on Sundays serving their breakfast and lunch menus which for the Upper West Side is somewhat unusual and by the time 12:30 rolls around, there is a line out the door. First come first serve, it has a lively and fun atmosphere.

I decided to stick with brunch and had their Eggs Norwegian with a few adjustments. Poached eggs with smoked salmon on a homemade English muffin, hold the Hollandaise, add some gruyere for the cheesy nutty twist. Simple and classic yet done well - this was the perfectly filling brunch dish and not something I would necessarily have at home which is always key for me when ordering brunch dishes.

I also had a mimosa which instead of arriving at the table already prepared -- one receives a small individual bottle of bubbly and a carafe of freshly squeezed orange juice -- combine as you wish. This was such a refreshing change to the majority of restaurants you frequent where you get 2/3rd orange juice and one third not so fabulous bubbly!

Easy, convenient, and delish, this was a great place for catching up!

10 Columbus Circle

Day 753 : Super Fancy Grilled Cheese?

Do you know what that is the tagline for?

It is the tagline for Little Muenster - a grilled cheese joint that opened down on the Lower East Side last Fall. A small storefront with enough room for about ten to fifteen people to sit, Little Muenster offers a selection of approximately eight different grilled cheese combinations that can be paired with the classic tomato soup and / or a wedge salad. Otherwise they come with local sweet potato chips.

We all tried three of their different grilled cheeses to really get a sense of what their menu has to offer -

1. Asiago / Parmesan / Muenster / Butternut Squash / Sage Brown Butter - An excellent blend of creaminess and nuttiness with a rustic homey earthy aromatic quality - flavorful and delish! Perfect with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon on a cold winter evening. Filling yet comforting - just what you want a grilled cheese to be.

2. Taleggio / Fontina / Sauteed Crimini & Shitake Mushrooms - Earthy and nutty with a melt in your mouth fullness of the fontina but I think this sandwich could have used a little bit of green herbs to cut the richness of the mushrooms and the cheese, perhaps some chives?

3. Maytag Blue / Muenster / Pear Puree - This was my favorite by far - savory yet sweet, piquant and biting yet fruity and light, creamy yet spicy, approachable for the novice blue cheese lovers but in your face enough for the more advanced blue cheese palate. It was subtle yet refined, simple yet developed. Great with a glass of mineral forward Sauvignon Blanc to cut through the richness.

Overall each sandwich had a developed flavor profile but a sense of playfulness -- exactly what a small grilled cheese joint should be. Go for a snack before going out with friends on the Lower East Side; a quick lunchtime bite after the New Museum; or well really whenever you feel like it except not on a Monday because they are not open.

Little Muenster
100 Stanton Street (between Orchard & Ludlow)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Day 752 : Wrinkles are Sexy - The Wonders of Bonne Bouche

Bonne Bouche yes that's French for a "good or mouthful/bite." But it is also the flagship geotrichum-rinded aged goat's milk cheese from Vermont Butter and Cheese. First released to the public in 2001, this cheese has gotten better with age -- not just its cave aging, but the creamery has worked very hard to perfect this little morsel of soft ash ripened goat's milk cheese. And if I do say so myself -- boy have they succeeded! It is outstanding. I'm not the only one who thinks so, the cheese won gold at last year's World Cheese Awards.

Think Loire Valley style ash ripened goat cheeses like Selles-sur-Cher, add in the terroir and specific tree ash of Vermont, the local farms' pasteurized goat's milk, the special touch of the Vermont Butter and Cheese creamery staff, and a little je ne sais quoi and you get Bonne Bouche. Tangy and chalky yet bright and citrusy with a nice milky smooth finish and piquant hints as the cheese ages.

The cheese is aged just long enough to develop its fabulous wrinkles which are the cornerstone of Vermont Butter and Cheese's March Facebook Campaign, giveaway and Whole Foods samplings in and around New York this month. So how do you win?

Step One: Like Vermont Butter and Cheese on Facebook

Step Two: Share your favorite photo, pairing concept, or serving tip for Bonne Bouche or something you find interesting about the cheese.

Step Three : Cross your fingers that you win the weekly random giveaway basket of this fabulous cheese. Vermont Butter and Cheese will be giving away one basket per week in the month of March.

So why wait around? It's time to enter the Wrinkles are Sexy campaign! I guarantee you will love Bonne Bouche!

Day 751 : Looking for a deal and something fun to do Monday night?

Why not sign up for Murray's Harmony of Wine and Cheese : Love the Loire Class? It's currently half priced admission. A pretty great deal if you ask me at $37.50!

Sign up here:

Led by former Gourmet Magazine Wine and Spirits consultant and the director of Murray's Cheese Education, this promises to be a fun class of mineral forward whites and aged goat's milk cheeses!

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