Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 849 : Sel et Gras

Sel et Gras translating to Salt & Fat is a month old French joint on Seventh Avenue South and West 10th street. A small corner space meant to turn French cuisine in NYC on its head -- no frills, just in your face fabulous French flavors. Sel et Gras is street art chic meets French pop / punk rock meets Napoleon's Versailles in a casual atmosphere - no jacket and tie needed here!

A view of the marble bar and some of the interior graffiti.

So what did we have?

On such a steamy summer eve, glasses of rose were just the ticket! With our rose, we ordered their version of a Pissaladiere. A Southern French flatbread pizza topped with caramelized onions, olives, garlic, anchovies, and in this case herbs and tomatoes. Rare to find done right in the US, Sel et Gras' Pissaladiere was aromatic, briny, herbaceous and fabulous! 

Along with that we had a classic Southern French black olive tapenade served with olive oil toasted crostini and a drizzle of lemon. Flavorful and dynamic, much more about the olive oil utilized to coat the tapenade and the olives themselves than about adding in too many ingredients.

And of course we had three of their cheeses -- St Maure (an ash ripened goat's milk cheese), Reblochon  (a washed rind cow's milk stinker), and a lovely Tomme (barnyardy and farmy with sheep-y, buttery round notes.) All three fabulous French cheeses!

Overall a great new addition to the West Village dining scene and a new take on French food. 

Sel et Gras
131 Seventh Avenue South

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 848 : A Recap of Artisanal's Red, White, and Bleu Tasting Event

Yesterday, Artisanal hosted a tasting to showcase the beginning of their campaign and roll-out focusing on small production American artisanal cheeses. With one hundred and fifty cheeses on display for tasting yesterday from six different regions, this was only just the beginning. Artisanal aims to eventually be THE place for retail sale and promotion of American cheeses.

As you tasted around the room, you moved from New England to the Mid-Atlantic to the South to the Upper Midwest to the Mountain Region and finally finished in the Pacific Rim with a central stop with in house homemade mozzarella. So what stood out to me?

Before we get there - let me preface by saying that I strictly tried cheeses I had never had before so as to discover some new American Artisanal goodies rather than sticking with my favorites...

Lets take a photo tour around the room starting in New England!

A new discovery that just wowed me - Black Madonna from Vermont. This ash ripened goat's milk cheese was rustic, mushroomy, and farmsteady yet tangy, crisp, citrusy and light. It is the perfect summertime cheese. Enjoy with a crisp white!

My other New England highlight was Tobasi - a washed rind stinker inspired by the infamous Taleggio but this Massachusetts superstar is more delicate with meaty, briny, hay notes and a buttery, milky round finish. Great with an IPA.

More shots from the New England cutting boards

Moving on to the Mid-Atlantic - 

A board full bloomy rind and soft creamy cheeses - perfect pairing partners with a glass of bubbly!

The Simply Sheep was smooth, crisp, milky, clean and round. Another great summertime choice!

More highlights from the Mid-Atlantic!

Moving on to the South....

Front and center is my beloved Grassias from Texas but more exciting or shall we say eye opening were the five cheeses surrounding Grassias. Why you might ask? 

Well that's because they are from Puerto Rico! 
I had never had a cheese from Puerto Rico and actually quite enjoyed the one in the middle back row -- Queso Cabachuelas. Think Mimolette but farm-ier and more rustic with an enhanced aged crystallized crunch. 

Moving onto the Upper Midwest...

Even though I did not try them because I adore them, I have to highlight TeaHive from the Upper Midwest, it is one of my absolute favorite cheeses!

Moving onto the Mountain Region...

With two washed rind hockey puck sized disks of briny, stinky, barnyardy yet bright, citrusy, and crisp goat's milk cheeses -- Red Cloud and Sunlight!

More Mountain goodies....

And our last stop was the Pacific Rim

By far the most interesting selections if you ask me -- there was True Love hailing from Oregon with rose petals coating the cheese giving off an aromatic herbaceous bent to the milky, crispness of the interior paste.  Also of note was Puck, a washed rind, bark wrapped, semi-firm banryardy stinker. 

Red Adler was an ash ripened cow's milk cheese with a smoked paprika center adding a fantastic kick! Chalky and milky, this reminds me of Capriole Farm's Sofia turned inside out. I love cheeses infused with paprika so this was an instant favorite in my book.

And how could you leave the Pacific Rim without plenty of Oregon Blues?

Overall an excellent selection of true American artisanal greats! How wonderful to see them all available through Artisanal. It sure is time that someone spent the time to highlight the small production American farmers and dairies.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 847 : New Amsterdam Market's - Cheese Market and Dairy Fair

This past Sunday at the New Amsterdam Market was all about cheese and of course a celebration of local and sustainable dairies, farm and regional producers / purveyours.

Present at Sunday's Market were the following creameries and local purveyours offering samples of their standby cheeses, new experiments, classic reinterpretations and more. I unfortunately arrived with barely fifteen minutes left of the market but was still able to visit a few of my favorite local creameries, for those of you I missed, I hope to see you all very soon!

Argyle Cheese Farm Argyle NY
Berkshire Cheese Makers, Dalton MA
Calkins Creamery, Honesdale PA
The Cellars at Jasper Hill, Greensboro VT
Consider Bardwell Farm, West Pawlet, VT
Cooperstown Cheese Company, Milford NY
Crowley Cheese, Mont Holly VT
Culture Magazine
Eastern District, Brooklyn NY
Edgwick Farm, Cornwall, NY

Finger Lakes Farms, Ithaca NY
Goodale Farms, Riverhead NY
Lucy's Whey, New York NY
Meadow Creek Dairy, Galax VA
Murray's Cheese, New York, NY
Nettle Meadow Farm, Warrensburg NY
Old Chatham Shepherding Company, Old Chatham NY
Salvatore Bklyn, Brooklyn NY
Saxelby Cheesemongers, New York NY
Twin Maple Farm, Ghent NY
Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company, South Woodstock VT

A couple shots of some of the cheese-y offerings available at the market.

Since I arrived at the end, I most certainly did not have the chance to try everything but what did really stand out for me was Edgwick Farm's new soft ripened goat's milk cheese with an ashen center. Crisp and light, yet creamy and tangy with a nice bright milky finish. The perfect summertime cheese -- approachable yet complex, dynamic and well rounded!

I also had the pleasure of trying a variety of Vermont Farmstead's new creations and I plan to cover those separately on the blog tomorrow but the highlights for me of their newer cheeses were definitely : The Smokehouse Tilsit and the Hot Pepper Windsordale. The Smokehouse Tilsit was creamy, buttery, and round yet not heavy with nice rustic fruity smokey-ness, perfect with an IPA. The Hot Pepper Windsordale was a welcome surprise -- I tend to find pepper infused cheeses to be this bizarre combination of two flavors in the hopes of creating a sense of harmony and in actuality, loosing the integrity of each. This was not the case here -- spicy piquant fire-y notes walked hand in hand with the buttery, nutty, roundness of the cheese -- an excellent combination of two flavors that can be very difficult! 

There were plenty of other new discoveries present at the Market that I think I would have had the pleasure to enjoy more if I had arrived earlier, but these discoveries were a great start!

What a great cheese weekend in NYC! I cannot wait for the next one.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 846 : A recap of the Cheesemonger Invitational

This past Saturday was the much hyped Third Annual Cheesemonger Invitational. Hosted by Larkin Cold Storage, a speciality food storage warehouse in LIC, cheese lovers gathered from near and far to watch the competition, enjoy some nibbles and tipples. Forty-five mongers from around the world were asked to perform a series of tasks: a written test, a blind taste test, a 60 second pitch selling one of pre-selected cheeses and finally a wrapping, cutting and care challenge. The winner was Adam Smith of Cowgirl Creamery DC with Justin Trosclair of St James Cheese Company in New Orleans taking second place and Bryan Bland of Pastoral in Chicago taking third place. For the complete list of the top 11 finishers, check it out here:

Scroll down to see my coverage in photographs of the event.

Part of the Alps of cheese display

The Cellars at Jasper Hill, one of the event's sponsors

A few shots of Rodolphe Le Meunier's amazing Loire Valley cheese display. Le Meunier is one of the world's foremost affineurs.

Neal's Yard Dairy's table. One of the highlights for me was their St James Cheese, the orange brick pictured in the center. An unpasteurized washed rind sheep's milk cheese that just totally knocked my socks off!

One of a few raclette grills melting cheese for your enjoyment

Cheese tools, cheese papers, and more...

Part of DiBruno brothers cured meats display

More raclette grills making the "Swiss Nachos" seen below

Other spreads from DiBruno Brothers

Grilled cheeses waiting to be grilled in case you wanted a full-on sandwich!

Beverages galore!

Although not the best shot, a candid shot of Adam Moskowitz, the man behind the cheesemonger invitational's magic and the twelve finalists.

A great evening was had by all -- plenty of delish cheeses, nibbles and drinks and of course good old fashioned competition! Here's to Adam Smith of Cowgirl Creamery in DC and all of the competitors! I look forward to seeing everyone at next year's Cheesemonger Invitational if not sooner!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 845 - Root, root, root for the hometeam - Andrew Clark

Rounding out our week of rooting for the hometeam is Andrew Clark, the man behind the magic at Fromaggio Essex. Fromaggio Essex is the smaller NYC sibling to Fromaggio Kitchen based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Measuring in at just 225 square feet, Fromaggio Essex is a goldmine of culinary goodies from near and far -- olive oils, cured meats, jams, mustards, and plenty of cheeses of course.

So how did Andrew Clark end up behind the counter of this petite gem?

After realizing that educating the Massachusetts high school masses was not for him, Andrew walked into a Whole Foods Market in Boston and had his AHA moment! He started off working part-time at the cheese counter and wasn't expecting to fall in love with it but he sure did -- the people were interesting, intelligent, funny, and happy to be there making it a truly great workplace. Part-time led to full-time led to becoming the buyer and then led to him moving around to several different Whole Foods up and down the East Coast and suddenly eight years had gone by. When the Fromaggio Essex opportunity presented itself, it just made sense to Andrew -- the stars were aligning and things were coming full circle -- Andrew had spent plenty of time in Fromaggio Kitchen and had lived in Cambridge for quite a few years so here in New York he got to maintain a little bit of Cambridge in his heart.

Although Fromaggio Essex and Fromaggio Kitchen are their own entities with the Kitchen location being about five to six times the size of the Essex location, they have very fluid interactions and in fact a lot of the time Andrew gets to choose the cheeses from the larger more expansive selection up north. But here in New York, Andrew gets to spend his days talking to customers about cheeses from near and far and what could really be better right? When times are slow, Andrew has quite the vivid imagination and thinks of the voices that say a Sbrinz would assume versus a fresh chevre and even Smokey Blue. Think Homeward Bound meets the cheese world. I think its a pretty great way to pass the time and who knows the fantasies one could create.

So here's to Andrew rounding out our root, root, root for the hometeam week!

Hope to see you all at the Cheesemonger Invitational tomorrow!

Day 844 : Root, root, root for the hometeam -- Sarah Maine

Saxelby Cheesemongers is a name synonymous with American artisanal cheese and with the Essex Street Market here in New York City. From its beginnings, Saxelby's focus has been on the promotion of the fabulous farmstead cheeses crafted by small sustainable American dairy farms and introducing them to the New York City masses. Up until last year, this goal functioned in harmony with helping to renovate the landscape of the Essex Street Market. In 2011, Saxelby opened up a larger space complete with cheese caves in Red Hook whilst maintaining their brick and mortar joint in the Essex Street Market.

Meet Sarah Maine, our cheesemonger contestant from Saxelby who is following in quite large footsteps with her two predecessors placing second and third respectively in the competition. They sure know their cheesemongering at Saxelby, right?!

Sarah came to the world of cheese after approximately a decade in film production and set decoration. She decided to return to school for an MBA in Sustainable Business and when that concluded she scored an internship at Saxelby knowing that they had a keen interest and focus on local and sustainable business. From there, Sarah moved up to manager where she has been since, at home in the world of cheese and sustainability!

Outside of the world of Saxelby, Sarah and a friend from graduate school started a website called What per chance is this site you might be wondering?  It is a relay of recipes where every recipe is inspired by an ingredient from the week before. Interestingly enough though, her website and her cheese life are beginning to cross paths with contributors to the website coming from the world of cheese and vice versa.

Here's to Sarah, Saxelby, and sustainability! A trio of S's!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 843 : Root, root, root for the hometeam - Lilith Spencer

Located on Flatbush Avenue in Park Slope is the three year old BKLYN Larder - a shop for "cheese and provisions." BKLYN Larder is full of carefully curated local cheeses, salumi, prepared foods, preserves, beers, gifts and more -- the ultimate neighborhood food destination, it's definitely worth the trip if you're not in Park Slope. Behind the counter at BKLYN Larder is Lilith Spencer, the focus of today's cheesemonger chat!

Lilith is relatively new to the NYC cheese world, having relocated approximately a year ago from Northampton, Mass where she received her BA from Hampshire College. Hampshire College allows you to create your own major with a senior thesis year completely curated by the student. Lilith's senior year was all about the intersection of music and cheese. How you might be wondering right? She composed eight different pieces of music and paired them with eight corresponding cheeses based on texture, culture, and more. The cheeses she utilized ranged from Old Chatham Shepherding's Camembert to Vella Dry Jack to Cabot Clothbound Cheddar to Abbaye de Belloc to Bayley Hazen Blue and more. I just love the abstract concept of creating a bond between music and cheese -- perhaps because it feels very close to home for me whose life is a happy mixture of cheese and fine arts. But enough about me, back to Lilith...

Upon completion of her music and cheese compositions and her time at Hampshire College, Lilith decided that it wasn't yet time to open her own carefully curated cheese shop in Northampton but that it is definitely a future goal -- in the mean time, she decided it was the time to cut her chops in the big city and what better place than BKLYN Larder! At BKLYN Larder, Lilith has really been able to sink her teeth into a small business and be a part of its growth process.

For Lilith, "Cheese is science, politics, history, and culture all rolled into one." So here's to Lilith and her belief that cheese ties the world together!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 842 : Root, root, root for the hometeam -- Alex Garcia

Our next hometown competitor is head of all things cheese at Dean and Deluca. Dean and Deluca was if you ask me the first artisanal supermarket in New York City, started by Joel Dean and Giorgio DeLuca in 1977. Stocked full of the things we now have come to love and expect in a supermarket, Dean and Deluca truly was a trailblazing force in the culinary world of late 1970s Soho. Giorgio Deluca started out having founded a cheese shop in the early 1970s so cheese has obviously been an important aspect of the business and having Alex Garcia nowadays at their cheese helm is obvious.   

Our window into Alex is through a series of questions but we know its all business here and that Alex surely has the hometown chops to impress! So see below for our question and answer session.   

Fromagical: How did you get into the cheesemonger world? 

Alex: Had my first job after moving to New York and saw that the cheesemonger was the guy who was talking to allthe pretty girls, so I lied and told the manager of the store that I knew about cheese.

Fromagical What’s your favorite thing about being a cheesemonger?

Alex: The people in the industry are the most sincere and honest of any industry I’ve worked in.

Fromagical: How do you think your establishment has helped you grow as a cheesemonger?

Alex: I’ve grown a lot as a leader.

Fromagical : The contest states that cheesemongers will be tested on a basis of knowledge, care, and preparation.Which do you think is your strong suit?

Alex : Care. I used to be the Director of Affinage at Artisanal Premium Cheese

Fromagical : Stinky, runny, ashy, woodsy,citrusy, or brine-y?

Alex : Yes.

Fromagical : Beer, wine, spirits, or adifferent beverage with your favorite cheese?

Alex: All of the above, yes.

Here's to the hometeam and the head of cheese at the supermarket that changed the way New Yorkers look, consume, and purchase food!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day 841 : Root, root, root for the hometeam - Martin Johnson

This coming Saturday is the Cheesemonger Invitational in Long Island City -- it is going to be a competition of epic proportions! 100 cheesemongers, 8 different rounds, plenty of cheese knowledge, care, and preparation on display! For spectators, there will be cheese, nibbles, wine, beer, and spirits galore, if you haven't bought your tickets - don't wait too long as you wouldn't want to miss this amazing opportunity :

Over the next week, we will take a look at some of the hometown competition and give you a window into what makes them stand out from the pack.

Today's let's give you a window into the world of Martin Johnson - cheesemonger extraordinaire at Gastronomie 491 on the Upper West Side. An eat in / to go joint that opened on Columbus and 83rd in March, Gastronomie features a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, prepared foods, breads, cheeses, beers and more along with a sit down cafe area in the back area. Their cheese selection on any given day has anywhere between 50 and 60 different cheeses with approximately 200 cheeses in their full rotation. They get new cheeses in on a weekly basis and are always infusing new blood into their offerings.

So how did Martin Johnson come to end up here and as a competitor in Saturday's competition you might be wondering? How about a little bit of background?

For the majority of his career, Martin Johnson has simultaneously been involved in the world of cheese and the world of freelance journalism for publications such as the New York Times, New York Magazine, Vogue, the Wall Street Journal, and many more. Johnson started out working for Bloomingdale's now defunct food division in the 80s and 90s while still furthering his writing career. In 1998, decision time came! Should he leave the world of food for writing? The opportunities were too great in the writing world so he took the chance. In 2002-2003, Martin decided to return to the world of cheese and made his name mongering at Garden of Eden. A year into his time at Garden of Eden, he returned to the written word part time, working at Bedford Cheese part time and starting the Joy of Cheese -- both an educational cheese blog with a fromage of the day highlighted along with Cheese pairing classes taught at the 92 Y in everything from Cheese and Wine to Cheese and Tequila and more. The Joy of Cheese aims to arm you with knowledge to appreciate the tastes you are enjoying and what flavor profiles create a sense of harmony with others. As Martin himself said, "It's about giving people a route in...that route will empower you with knowledge into your food, cheese, wine, spirits and more." Through the Joy of Cheese, Martin has had the opportunity to curate the cheese selections at a few wine bars around town and has consequently taught both private and public classes in their spaces.

Fast forward to 2011, Martin got approached to run the cheese department at Gastronomie 491 - a place that specializes in an intellectual yet fun and informative approach to your food with uniquely curated selections of everything from beer to cheese to prepared foods, baked goods and more. What a perfect fit! He still writes daily for the Joy of Cheese and teaches a few times a month at the 92Y.

Of the three main aspects, the Cheesemonger Invitational judges contestants based on -- knowledge, care and preparation, Martin definitely has a leg up on the knowledge end!!

Let's hear it for Martin!!!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 840 : TGIF Pairing

It sure feels like summertime in the city!

What better way to celebrate the end of the week than with a glass of local bubbles and some creamy cheese? 

How about a glass of Lieb Cellars Blanc de Blancs?

Crafted in the French Methode Champenoise with 100% Pinot Blanc grapes, this sparkling is the perfect happy hour summertime drink -- bright and light with refreshing notes of citrus, pear and green apple and a slight yeasty sweetness. 

With your glass of bubbles, how about a morsel of Champlain Valley Triple Cream from Vergennes, VT? Aged pasteurized cow's milk makes up this small cylinder of creamy decadent buttery unctuous cheese. Round in the best sort of ways, your Blanc de Blancs bubbles will elegantly cut through the cheese and be the perfect Friday afternoon delight!

Image courtesy of

Enjoy all!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 839 : Good for Groups - Little Town NYC

Housed in the old Vintage Irving space, brought to you by the team behind SideBar and Village Pourhouse is Little Town. Billing itself as a "contemporary brewhouse" highlighting the small town brews of New York state, with close to one hundred local brews and a New York state influenced menu, it is a lowkey laidback joint off of Union Square perfect for a group of people.

A warm and inviting wood adorned space with a lively vibe, it was great for our group last night. We ordered a bunch of their share-able small plates which I was very pleased with. The majority of their food is locally sourced and locally inspired.

Their selection of Hawthorne Valley meats and cheeses - smoked Bianca, Camembert, Manchego, Prosciutto, Weisswurst, Salami, Guava Jam and grapes. An ode to the upstate NY cheesemaker with fresh, local cheeses -- the perfect complement to the glass of Bedell Cab Merlot blend I enjoyed while there.

Truffled Coach Farm Goat Cheese drizzled with honey on crusty baguette.

We also ordered their hummus and crudites, Pretzel crusted chicken fingers, Fried Long Island clam strips, and their stadium garlic fries. Simple and straight forward dishes done well utilizing local ingredients with an extensive beer selection, this is a great addition to the Union Square dining and drinking establishments.

Little Town
118 East 15th Street

Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 838 : Opening Alert

For all you Bedford Cheese Shop lovers -- good news has arrived! Bedford Cheese Shop is opening a Manhattan outpost at 67 Irving Place complete with an extensive educational program and a retail shop!

When I walked by yesterday there was still brown paper over the windows but there is a class posted for tonight so I reckon if you stop by this week, you will be one of their first visitors! They are the official sponsor for next weekend's Cheesemonger's Invitational as well!

An exciting new addition to the Manhattan cheese scene, definitely worth a visit!!!

Bedford Cheese Shop Manhattan
67 Irving Place

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day 837 : Brunching downtown

This weekend was a big whirlwind of catching up with old friends, lots of good times spent over shared food and drinks especially at brunch both yesterday and today. Brunch is a quintessential weekend meal -- leisurely, lovely, and laid back. Each brunch had a completely different feel but was distinct and delish in its own manner.

Yesterday a group of us dined at Peels, the Southern influenced restaurant owned by the team behind Freeman's. Known for their biscuits, go for a homemade buttermilk biscuit "built" to order -- scrambled eggs or avocado or cheese and bacon, you name it, you can add it to your flaky baked delicacy. Not in the mood for a homemade biscuit, they have a nice selection of salads, sandwiches, egg based dishes and quite the extensive selection of bloody mary's. I had their red quinoa salad with asparagus, kale, and a lemony dressing topped with crumbled blue cheese - light and flavorful with just the right rustic vegetal kick and a glass of Brut. This was definitely more lunch than brunch -- a lively and bustling environment with a menu that is guaranteed to please.

On the other hand, today was much more breakfast than lunch -- after a failed attempt of dining at Hotel Chantelle on the Lower East Side, we ended up at Schiller's, Keith McNally's Parisian influenced cafe on Norfolk and Rivington. A tried and true joint with excellent cocktails, a nice French bistro and English pub influenced menu, a chill vibe that transports you to the streets of the Marais. Definitely order their blood orange mimosa, it's the most excellent riff on the classic brunch drink. I had their eggs Norwegian -- poached, with smoked salmon and melted Gruyere instead of hollandaise -- a straight forward brunch dish executed well in a fun environment with the European soccer cup live, this was a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon with a good friend.

Brunch to me is all about relaxing, catching up with friends and enjoying the weekend day -- each of these meals was just that.

325 Bowery

131 Rivington Street

Friday, June 8, 2012

Day 836 : Cocktail hour chez moi

Last night I had a few friends over for rose wine and summery nibbles -- light, flavorful and fresh food accompanied by crisp fruit forward rose and great company.

So what did I make?

To start off I made a strawberry, cherry tomato, and basil burrata salad topped with a drizzle of EVOO and some sea salt. This was accompanied by some rosemary olive oil infused crackers, a melange of olives and roasted walnuts.

What else did we have?

A homemade flatbread pizza topped with Vermont Butter & Cheese's herb chevre, sliced zucchini and yellow summer squash, roasted walnuts, basil, and aged Parmesan topped with a drizzle of EVOO, crushed red pepper and sea salt. Rustic, aromatic, and flavorful yet bright, light, and fresh. The perfect summertime flatbread!

Here's to a great weekend folks!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Day 835 : Dinner at Forager's City Table - A little less cheese and a little more Asian influenced cuisine

Forager's originated as Dumbo's fantastic grocery and marketplace. Not that long ago, they opened a Manhattan outpost replete with a grocery and a sit down restaurant -- farm to table cuisine with an Asian bent. As you walk in, you are welcomed by the alluring wares of the grocery portion, but keep going to the sleek and simple seated area in the back -- rustic barn decor meets city chic here.

An elegant menu of inventive dishes each truly unique in their creativity!

As there were a few of us we were able to split a variety of their dishes to start so we could really try a sampling of their offerings. We started with their warm peanuts and cashews infused with chili, ginger, lemongrass, and herbs. Spicy and tangy, these were addictive, that's for sure! We also tried two of their salads: the house cured anchovy and radish salad served with foragers farm butter crunch lettuces along with their spring hearts salad which was composed of artichokes, asparagus, hearts of palm, escarole, and topped with a foragers farm egg and a deconstructed pesto herb sauce. The anchovy salad was less about the anchovies and more about the crisp freshness of the lettuce leaves -- lacking in some flavor punch, it was a celebration of our local green bounty. The spring heart salad was aromatic and vegetal and delish, it packed a nice punch but really allowed each of the veggies the opportunity to sing!

I then had their organic black pepper tofu accompanied with balsamic glazed dinosaur kale and we all split a variety of their vegetable sides. The tofu was flavorful yet delicate and the kale was the perfect dark leafy green counterpart to complement the aromatics of the tofu and balsamic.

Overall the meal was delish and understated in an elegant manner just like the space it was served in. There are very few restaurants around town that I know who can really leave the ingredients to shine on their own and that is what Forager's City Table does -- its really about bringing the farm fresh ingredients to the fore.

Forager's City Table
300 West 22nd Street

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Day 834 : Event Alert - Cheesemonger Invitational

On June 23rd, Long Island City will have the pleasure of welcoming the third annual Cheesemonger Invitational! A competition of epic portions! Cheesemongers from forty different cheese shops will compete in eight head to head battles to crown one reigning cheese! There will be refreshments provided by Steve Jones who has been in the cheesemonger world for fifteen years and now runs a very well established cheese bar out of Portland, Oregon.

So why go?

Because how often do you really get to see cheesemonger competitions? And realistically it will be pretty cool to see people from all the world compete to win this coveted title! And also, if you live in any one of the five boroughs, it's pretty convenient!

Get your tickets here while they last:

Monday, June 4, 2012

Day 833 : Fast, Easy, Fresh Meals for One

Tonight is a perfect night for a glass of red wine and something warming, right? Despite the fact that it is apparently June it barely feels like its the beginning of May.

How about a warm salad to comfort you from the inside out? What goes into our salad tonight you might be wondering?

Farro -- found at Fairway, Whole Foods, and pretty much any specialty store
Caramelized Onions
Roasted Beets
Old Chatham Sheepherding Company's Ewe's Blue -- A New York State sheep's milk blue that is creamy and round with nice tangy piquant notes and the perfect spicy counterpart to your nutty, vegetal, aromatic salad.
Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Sea Salt

To assemble this salad start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and chopping up your beets. Toss with some EVOO, chopped up garlic, parsley, and sea salt. Roast for approximately forty minutes or until tender. While your beets are cooking, boil a pot of salted water to cook your farro. Cook the farro in the same manner as you cook rice. With those two cooking, grab a saute pan and and dice up a half of an onion and cook with EVOO over low heat till caramelized. Just before the onions are finished, toss in a handful of chopped parsley and a 1/3 of a cup of roasted walnuts. Blend together over low heat for approximately three to five minutes. Take this mixture and combine with your cooked farro. Let sit while you are waiting for the beets to finish. Next up combine everything together -- mix in your beets, a handful of arugula for that green aromatic kick and of course your blue cheese. Top with a small drizzle of EVOO and aged Balsamic Vinegar. Enjoy with a medium bodied red, perhaps a Cotes du Rhone.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Day 832 : A Down South Recap

I just returned to hustle and bustle from the quiet peaceful milieu of Tryon, North Carolina -- the largest town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. At 1700 people, this was quite the shift from day to day life in NYC and boy was it exactly what I needed -- hiking, running, swimming, plenty of outdoor time, very close friends, good food, good times, and a nice dosage of relaxing! Located about an hour and a half drive from Charlotte and forty five minutes from Asheville, this small town was all Southern outdoorsy charm. Although we did not have the time to visit any of the local creameries on our whirlwind of a weekend, we did have the pleasure of sampling a few local cheeses.

The first of which was crafted by Looking Glass Creamery in Fairview, NC -- a small family operated creamery producing raw goat and cow's milk cheeses utilizing locally sourced milk from neighboring farms. Their cheese line includes a fresh chevre, a feta, one aged goat's milk cheese, Ellington; Pack Square (a semi-aged cow's milk Brie style cheese), and a firm aged cow's milk cheese, Chocolate Lab. This weekend we had the pleasure of trying their Ellington, modeled on the classic firm aged ash ripened goat's milk pyramids of the Loire Valley, following in the footsteps of many other American artisanal goat's milk ash ripened cheeses. But Ellington was truly its own cheese - bright and fresh, grassy and honest, light and tangy, firm and chalky, this cheese just screamed "Please pair me with a glass of Sancerre on a hot summer day!" Infused with the local terroir, this cheese was an excellent example of the quality small production goat's milk cheeses being produced in North Carolina.

The other two cheeses we had the pleasure of trying were both crafted by Chapel Hill Creamery in its namesake town of Chapel Hill. A small farm and cheesemaking facility specializing in cow's milk cheeses, this local farm favors strictly Jersey cows for their milking and cheese production season from March till December. They craft a fresh mozzarella, a farmer's cheese, a camembert style cheese, a feta and two washed rind cheeses -- Hickory Grove and Calvander. Hickory Grove was a tomme style, semi-firm wash rind cheese full of grassy, barnyardy, farmsteady rustic notes and a toasty buttery finish. Great with one of the local beers, perhaps the Highland Brewery's Kashmir IPA. Calvander, an Asiago style cheese was much firmer and nuttier with the classic aged cheese crystallization and full of butterscotchy, caramelly notes. A great snacking cheese that would be perfect with a light glass of red wine, perhaps a nice fruit forward Pinot Noir.

There were plenty of local wineries, breweries, creameries and eateries that we did not have the time to venture into but that gives me a reason to go back to this peaceful and gorgeous corner of the world but for now this weekend was a wonderful introduction.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Day 831 : "How Do You Roll?" Contest Alert!

Do you dream of winning the goat cheese log lottery? Well for the entire month of June you can have the opportunity to win the spread featured below and don't worry if you don't win at first, they will be drawing a different winner each Thursday for the entire month! That's four whole opportunities to win!

How could you be so lucky to win this fantastic cheese spread you might be wondering?

Well you go to : and there you can submit your absolute favorite goat cheese recipe or that snapshot of goat cheese that just gets you excited or a pairing suggestion or something that you would like to see a young chevre rolled in, a unique flavor combination.

So why not enter? See what you could win! 

Happy Friday Fromagical friends!

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