Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 864 : Vermont Farmstead Trip

Following our stop at Spring Brook Farm, my next stop was at Vermont Farmstead in South Woodstock, Vermont. The site of an old water buffalo dairy, this is the first community owned dairy in Vermont with the goal of stimulating the local economy by bringing back dairy farming to the region and in turn producing wonderful farmstead cheeses. A growing company - it was such fun to see their space and hear about all of their plans to grow in the coming weeks, months and years.

The newest development in terms of growth is their new outpost right next to Harpoon Brewery in Windsor -- boasting a retail shop, a cut n' wrap area, aging caves and more. The retail shop opened a little over a month ago and when I was there, they were still working on the back areas. Stay tuned for updates as this space is finished. But for the moment, it is the perfect place to grab some local cheeses, preserves, breads, ice creams and more while you're at Harpoon Brewery.

But let's move back to their South Woodstock location which is home base for their current cheesemaking operations. Here they produce approximately twelve different cheeses and are constantly expanding and growing their cheese offerings. What I thought was very cool in my chats with the cheesemakers was that the original goal in developing a line of cheeses was to reinvent lesser known European cheeses and really make them their own -- putting a very unique and completely personal Vermont Farmstead spin on their cheeses.

As of late they sure have been exploring their flavor creative juices with infused Windsordales modeled on the traditional English cheese, Wensleydale with cheese such as a Cranberry Windsordale, a Blueberry Windsordale, a Hot Pepper Windsordale, a Cracked Pepper Windsordale and even a Chocolate Stout infused Windsordale. They are constantly trying new infusions and are seeing what works and what doesn't -- for example a Peas and Carrots infused Windsordale unfortunately fell flat and tasted like chicken soup.

Apart from their Windsordale experiments, they are also working on producing more and more small Lille, their bloomy rinded ooey-gooey Coulommiers inspired cream-ster - going from approximately one to two pound wheels down to small, little, dainty seven ouncers -- perfect with a bottle of champagne for a night in.

The current sized Lille's aging

The newly developed smaller Lille's just after production.

Spending time at the Creamery and with the staff, their enthusiasm, excitement, and energy was totally contagious -- you see it in their fabulous new farmstead cheeses and in their plans for expansion in terms of their facilities. This is only just the beginning of Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company, stay tuned for the next steps.

A look inside the creamery....

The vats utilized to craft their cheeses

Their milking parlour

A look into their cow barn.

Thanks guys for taking the time to show me around! I look forward to seeing you all again very soon. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Day 863 : Let's begin at the beginning and rewind to Spring Brook Farms

Let's rewind a week to 6am last Friday morning when three of us piled into the car to set out on our weekend to pouring rain and thundershowers -- not the ideal driving weather that's for sure. Four hours later we crossed over the border into Vermont and the sun started shining -- this was going to be a great weekend!

Stop number one of the weekend was at Spring Brook Farms in Reading, Vermont. Before we get to their cheeses, I'd like to start with their amazing program known as Farms for City Kids. So what is it?
It is a week long program geared towards anywhere between ten and twenty-five children between the ages of eight and twelve from urban centers all over the country. During their week on the farm, the children are immersed in farm life -- in both the classroom setting and in terms of hands-on experience in the dairy barn, gardens, greenhouse, and animal barn. Over the course of their week on the farm, these children have the opportunity to see where their food comes from and learn about how it is grown and developed -- it is a chance to connect with the land and all of its bounty. In the 19 years, Farms for City Kids has been around, it has changed countless numbers of lives -- old students have gone on to be vets, farmers, doctors and more specifically due to their experience. To learn more about Farms for City Kids, click here:

So apart for Farms for City Kids, Spring Brook Farms produces two amazing award winning cheeses -- Tarentaise and Reading. In 2008, Spring Brook built their own cheese parlour and aging room, complete with the French style copper vats.

Their copper vat

Their production room part one and part two below

The ring molds utilized for Tarentaise

Their aging cellar

Starting out only producing Tarentaise following in the footsteps of the local Putnam's of Thistle Hill Farm who developed the original "recipe" for the cheese, Spring Brook's Tarentaise production was off and running in 2008. Tarentaise is a raw Jersey cow milk washed rind, cooked curd aged cheese. Aged for anywhere between six months and two years, Tarentaise is a nutty, buttery, butterscotchy, caramelly, rustic and earthy Alpine style cheese that is one of my all time favorite cheeses. 

Nowadays both Thistle Hill and Spring Brook produce Tarentaise and although made off the same recipe, each cheese is slightly different due to the local terroir and of course each farm's cows' milk. 

Reading is a newer cheese to the market, having only been produced for the past two to two and a half years. Modeled on the semi-soft, pliable and melting superstar, Raclette, Reading is sweet and buttery with a nice farmsteady grassy rustic bent. Aged for at least three months, this is one of the best new cheeses coming out of Vermont in the past few years. 

From Monday to Saturday, the four full time employees and others make Tarentaise  every other day in twenty-four wheel batches and Reading a few times a week with anywhere between twenty-four and twenty-eight made at one time. Milking between forty and forty-two cows currently, they have been producing cheese year round for the past three years. They sure know what they are doing as both of their cheeses are award winning. 

One of their Jersey's, Ms. Betty Boop

Overall what a wonderful way to start the trip in Vermont with a small production farm that aspires to such big goals touching so many lives through their cheeses and their Farms for City Kids program. 

Stay tuned for the rest of the Vermont stops.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 862 : Matchmaking Vermont Style Recap...

No awkward silences here, no turning of the cheek to avoid a first date kiss, instead an informed pairing of Vermont wines and cheeses led by Sean Buchanan and Alice Feiring as part of the seminar series at the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival. Buchanan was an executive chef at the Middlebury Inn  and then at the Stowe Mountain Lodge and currently is a business development manager for Black River Produce -- a local produce and speciality foods distributor. There he helps chefs maximize their use of local and sustainable ingredients focusing on stimulating the region through direct usage of local products. Buchanan is all about the locavore movement -- growing the local agricultural community to in turn stimulate the socio-economic climate of the Upper Valley. Feiring has been writing on many topics, most notably wine since 1988 and has a wine blog ( since 2004 wining the James Beard and Louis Roederer Wine Writing Awards for her penmanship. Feiring is a big proponent of natural, biodynamic and organic wines.

So what did Buchanan and Feiring put together for the pairings?

Pairing 1: Vermont Butter and Cheese's Bonne Bouche and Lincoln Peak's Black Sparrow with an under ripe peach - 

VBC's ash ripened aged goat's milk cheese that is bright, tangy, citrusy and chalky with a crisp local white wine - the harmony of terroir working perfectly!

Pairing 2 : Grafton Village Cheese's Bismark and East Shore Vineyard's Frontenac Rose with pickled red cherries -

Bismark is a semi-firm aged sheep's milk cheese full of nutty, buttery, creamy and sweet notes. The perfect snacking sheep's milk cheese whose depth increases as it ages. Frontenac Rose, despite its dark color, is light and fanciful and full of red berry notes. Each great on their own but I was not sold on this pairing until I introduced the fabulous pickled red cherries which were just the cat's meow.

Pairing 3 : Spring Brook Farm's Reading and Shelburne Vineyard's Marquette

Raclette style cheese made in Vermont? Well yes, since 2010 Spring Brook Farm has been crafting this raw Jersey cow's milk semi soft cheese. Fruity and nutty, yet buttery and round, this cheese is great on its own or melted and sandwiched between two pieces of bread as the best grilled cheese sandwich. Marquette is a dynamic yet approachable medium bodied red wine -- full of dark cherry notes, this is a lovely pairing.

Pairing 4 : Consider Bardwell's Pawlet and Snow Farm Vineyard's Vidal Ice Wine

Modeled on an Italian style toma, this raw Jersey cow's milk cheese is approachable and easy to love -- full of sweetness, with hints of butter, grassy-ness, and a nice floral finish. A great pairing partner for almost any beverage and a huge crowd pleaser of a cheese. Classic ice wine done well -- sweet with a syrupy floral bouquet. I'm not necessarily a fan of pairing ice wine with cheeses especially here but if I had to, I would perhaps pair the ice wine with a nice spicy piquant blue cheese not the Pawlet. The Pawlet begs for a medium bodied red or a range of beers. 

Pairing 5: Shelburne Farms Smoked Cheddar and Snow Farm Vineyard's Vidal Ice Wine

Raw cow's milk hickory wood smoked cheddar that is round, buttery and rustic with the most fabulous hints of campfire paired with the same ice wine as the prior pairing. Here I think that the sweetness and thickness of the wine actually plays off of the smoky notes of the cheddar and forms an interesting and dynamic pairing.

Pairing 6 : Shelburne Farms 2 year aged Cheddar and Eden Ice Cider Company's Newhall Ice Cider

Farmstead aged cheddar that's crumbly, caramelly, crystallized, nutty, and buttery is paired with the sweetness of the ice cider. Notes of apples and honey find their home with the flavor nuances of the cheese and the tasting is rounded out with a wonderful final pairing.

Overall a really fun Vermont matchmaking experience -- highlighting the brilliance of the local terroir. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Day 861 : Vermont Cheesemakers Festival

This weekend was a whirlwind of driving, creamery and brewery visits, an artisanal chocolate shop, festivals, and more stops all culminating in yesterday's fourth annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival. So lets start there and work our way back through the weekend over the next few days.

Each year the Vermont Cheesemaker's Festival is housed in the Coach Barn at the gorgeous and sprawling Shelburne Farms overlooking Lake Champlain. This year's festival boasted over forty Vermont based cheesemakers offering tastes of over two hundred different cheeses. Apart from the creameries -- there were local wineries,  breweries, distilleries, chocolatiers, bakers, breadmakers, and many other small production local speciality food purveyors and producers. With 1750 tickets available to the public and another 250 for media and comps, the event was packed to the gills full of industry and trade, cheese lovers, foodies, and much much more!

My game plan for this year's festival was really to have the opportunity to chat with a bunch of people who I hadn't necessarily had the chance to chat with in depth before, so if I missed out on your cheeses and your table here, I apologize but I hope I give you a nice summary of my experiences. Before we get started, I'd just like to say to a few creameries how much I always love your cheeses even though I won't necessarily be focusing on your cheeses today but that doesn't mean that you won't figure into this week's Vermont recap which many of these creameries will. So here's to the Cellars at Jasper Hill, Cob Hill Cheese, Consider Bardwell, Narragansett Creamery, Spring Brook Farm, Thistle Hill farm, Vermont Butter and Cheese, and Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company -- keep on producing all of the excellent cheeses you guys are making! Stay tuned later in the week for an in depth look at: Spring Brook Farm, Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company, Cob Hill Cheese, and Vermont Butter and Cheese's new creamery renovations!

Let's start with Sage Goat Farm Dairy located in Stowe -- a small production family run goat dairy started by two sisters in 2008. Sage Goat Farm Dairy crafts seven different cheeses -- from a fresh chevre and feta on the younger side to two soft ripened aged goat's milk cheeses; an ash ripened aged goat's milk cheese inspired by the French Loire Valley goat king, Valencay; an aged firm alpine style tomme and a maple liqueur soaked maple leaf wrapped aged goat's milk cheese. Each of their cheeses is clean, fresh, alive and tangy with a raw honesty to them -- you can totally tell that these cheeses were made with lots of love and care. Check out their new chevre  with local lavender, bee pollen, and other aromatics. Young and flavorful -- this cheese screams summertime in the Upper Valley to me -- perfect for a picnic in the grass with a bottle of bubbles.

Although somewhat far from the world of cheese, my next stop was at Caledonia Spirits and Winery from Hardwick, Vermont where I fell in love with their Barr Hill Gin. Disclaimer - I love gin, definitely without a doubt, my favorite spirit. Caledonia has been around for less than a year and on top of their gin, they produce three different meads, a vodka, and an Elderberry Cordial. Each is crafted with raw Vermont honey made by Todd Hardie, the man behind Caledonia. Why raw honey? Well Hardie has over forty years of beekeeping experience under his belt, along with being a naturalist. The gin is crafted with juniper berries and raw honey giving way to an aromatic and smooth mouthfeel -- flavorful yet light, this is fantastic sipping gin!

Next stop was at Westfield Farm based out of Massachusetts whose cheeses I have written up many a time but I needed to take a moment to say how fabulous their White Buck is -- a soft ripened, bloomy rinded goat's milk log modeled on non-ash ripened St Maure. It's mushroomy and fluffy yet tangy, citrusy, bright, and grassy! Great with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc on a hot day. Also interesting to me is that the only place in NYC you can find their cheese is at Eataly. 

Next stop -- Blythedale Farms hailing from Corinth, VT. Known for their Brie and Camembert, Blythedale makes a hugely popular Gruyere and a Grana style cheese. The Grana is utilized for all of the American Flatbread (an awesome farm to table flatbread joint currently in Burlington, Middlebury, and Waitsfield, Vermont). Their Grana was nutty, rustic, and earthy with a farmsteady caramelly bent and of course a nice dose of aged cheese crystallization. 

Next stop was at Mt Mansfield Creamery from Morrisville, Vermont. Mt Mansfield started crafting cheese in 2009 and boy what a long way they have come in a few short years! Already an award winner, their Inspiration cheese  just blew me away yesterday. Why you may ask? Inspiration is modeled on a semi-soft washed rind Corsican cheese except here it has been washed in Lake Champlain Chocolate Stout. Earthy, rustic, and nutty with a smooth, round, melt in your mouth feel and a slight residual sweetness - this cheese definitely finds its home with a nice tall pint of beer. 

Next stop was Plymouth Artisan Cheese Company based in Plymouth, Vermont. Boasting one of the oldest creameries in Vermont, the factory was built in 1890 by Calvin Coolidge's father. Their cheeses are granular curd cheeses inspired by the cheeses crafted by our nation's founding fathers. They just started crafting their first washed rind cheese known as Gracie's Choice -- a British style farmstead cheese with a nice rustic bite, it would go great with a nice Amber Ale on a slightly chilly day. Also of note was their 2 year aged Hunter -- nutty and buttery with a nice sense of roundness and that classic aged crystallized tang! Would be great with a medium bodied red. 

Next stop Boston Post dairy hailing from Enosburg Falls, Vermont. A family owned farm since 1962 now run by the four sisters of the family. Eleven Brothers, yes folks they have eleven brothers totaling fifteen siblings, was a wonderful cheese discovery at their table. An aged goat's milk tomme that was bright, grassy, and citrusy with a nice tangy farmsteady rustic finish -- perfect with a glass of Cotes du Rhone.

Although I seem to not have any photos from Blue Ledge Farm, I'd love to their newish blue cheese that I fell in love with : Middlebury Blue. I've known and loved Blue Ledge's Crottina for a while but their blue is a newer release and it is creamy yet spicy and piquant with a nice well rounded kick. Rustic and earthy yet full bodied and flavorful - this is a blue cheese to savor.

Moving out of the state of Vermont for a moment to Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown, Mass with their Tobasi. Tobasi is a three to four month aged semi soft washed rinded raw cow's milk cheese that is fabulous. Unctuous and creamy yet rustic, nutty,  farmsteady and barnyardy -- a dynamic cheese that does a flavor dance on your palate. Excellent for the washed rind new comer, it does not overwhelm but certainly delights. Great with a glass of Riesling or Gewurztraminer.

Where have I been that I didn't know Shelburne Farms made a Clothbound Cheddar? It's fantastic! It has a very small distribution but if you can get your hands on some of it, make sure to jump on it. Rustic, farmsteady, and meaty yet with a tangy, nutty, crumbly-ness that just delights!

One more stop minus a photo -- Von Trapp Farmstead who is definitely most well-known for their washed rind Tomme style raw cow's milk cheese, Oma. Apart from Oma, Von Trapp Farmstead makes two other cheeses -- one of which I fell in love with -- Savage. The cheese is named after Samuel S. Savage who was the original settler to the Von Trapp farmstead in Waitsfield, Vermont. A cooked and pressed Alpine style cow's milk cheese that is aged for anywhere between eight and twelve months. Nutty and buttery with a roundness of flavor and a nice grassy, slight sweet finish. 

I didn't even cover some of the wines that I enjoyed but that will be for another blog post.

Overall - an awesome showing of American artisanal cheeses, so many new exciting developments on the horizon! It gives me such pleasure to see the creativity and ingenuity in each and everyone of these cheesemakers and I cannot wait to see what's up next!

Here's to all of you!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day 860 : Knock your socks off blue...

As a surprise with my three American artisanal cheeses, I got two extra cheeses from Artisanal this past Friday and I just had to talk briefly about the surprise blue hailing from the Leon region of Spain which would be a perfect rainy afternoon cheese perhaps with a nice medium bodied red or even a bitter and tangy IPA.

Valdeon - a mixed cow and goat's milk blue wrapped and aged in a sycamore leaf. This is an "in your face" sort of cheese -- spicy, piquant and biting but nutty, rustic, earthy and fabulous. This is the sort of cheese that awakens your taste buds and does the most fantastic dance on your palate. It surely isn't for the faint of heart though -- if Stilton is too strong for you, then Valdeon will definitely knock your socks off. But for those of you blue cheese fans, this is just fantastic!

Image courtesy of

Thanks guys for the surprise!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Day 859: Beach time cheese

What to bring to a friend's house for a weekend at the beach?

Cheese of course! American artisanal cheeses definitely! In planning the selection of three cheeses to bring, I thought why not tap into the newly developed American artisanal focused cheese program rolled out by Artisanal. So what did I choose based on the knowledge I had about the taste preferences for my audience?

First off was Grassias hailing from Paula Lambert's Mozzarella Company in Texas. A mixed cow and goat's milk cheese wrapped in lemon grass leaves - it is light and flavorful yet aromatic, tangy and earthy. The perfect young fresh creamy cheese for a summertime get together.

Then there was Tarentaise crafted by Thistle Hill Farm in Vermont. A firm aged organic cow's milk cheese modeled on the classic French alpine style cheeses like Abondance. Tarentaise is nutty, buttery, butterscotchy, caramelly, rustic, earthy, and grassy -- an excellent partner for a glass of Cotes du Rhone or even an IPA. Tarentaise is that sort of cheese that is warm and comforting yet light and flavorful -- perfect in winter or summer months.

And lastly there was Old Chatham Shepherding Company's Ewe's Blue. Made in the traditional style with sheep's milk, this local upstate New York blue is creamy and spicy but piquant and rustic -- it can appeal to the blue cheese amateur or the blue cheese lover alike. Ewe's Blue is truly infused with its local terroir and is definitely one of the best local blue cheeses I have had.

Overall an excellent selection of American artisanal cheeses for a great beach weekend! I look forward to trying the full offerings in Artisanal's new American plan.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Day 858 : Happy Bastille Day!

Here's to Liberte, Egalite, et Fraternite on this Bastille Day 2012! How to celebrate? Well with French cheeses and wines of course! Whether you're a Mimolette fan or a Langres lover or a melted Raclette fiend, there is no shortage of French cheeses for you to choose from. Bordeaux reds, Cotes du Rhones or maybe some classic Champagne bubbles or even a crisp glass of Sancerre - your wine choices are endless. 

On this Bastille Day -- I have to return to a cheese that is very near and dear to my heart -- actually the cheese that I credit with starting the beginning of my cheese passions -- Crottin de Chavignol. Surely, I had loved the French cheeses I was exposed to as a child direct from the small farmers at the covered markets in the South of France but it was this small little roundelle of aged pasteurized goat's milk that opened the doors into my world of cheese and I haven't looked back since. Great with a glass of Sancerre -- this little cheese is tangy yet citrusy, grassy yet milky, chalky and creamy -- it is the perfect   mix of flavor profiles if you ask me. A great way to celebrate Bastille Day! 

Vive la Republique! 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 857 : Rosemary's

Brought to you by the team behind Bobo, Rosemary's Enoteca on Greenwich has been impossible to get into  since it opened earlier this summer. It is by far one of the best restaurants to sip summertime rose at and definitely one of the most exciting restaurant openings of 2012 thus far, if you ask me. Why you may ask? Complete with a rooftop garden teeming with their homegrown vegetables, herbs, and more, Rosemary's downstairs dining area is open and airy -- the entire place just feels like summertime encapsulated in a restaurant.

 The rooftop garden was full of herbs, tomatoes, zucchini blossoms, lettuce, and more...what a nice break from the concrete jungle on the streets below.

Apart from the decor, the local farm to table cuisine is ingredient driven with an Italian bent and totally spot on and won't break the bank - fresh, delish, and unique. The service is efficient and the wine list is affordable, with all glasses priced at $10 and the majority of the bottles priced at $40, safe for a small reserve list.

So what did we have last night?

We started off with a few of their small plates to split:

Zucchini crudo with parmesan, fresh tomatoes, and EVOO - light, fresh, and the essence of summer.

Cabbages, Pecorino and Chilis was refreshing and crisp, just the perfect salad combination on a warm summer day.

Summertime roasted beets -- Flavorful and rustic 

Octopus carpaccio with basil and homemade gardiniere -- one of the most unique octopus appetizers I have had in a while, it was was wonderful and totally visually stunning.

Tuna with olives, capers, parsley and fried chickpeas -- their take on a Nicoise salad deconstructed but boy did the tuna just melt in your mouth. 

Each of the small appetizers was bold and flavorful yet light and fanciful -- great share-able amounts and such a wide range. Following our appetizers, I had their Chopped Salad "Siciliana" which was composed of butter lettuce, caper berries, olives, ricotta salata, fennel, artichoke, and fried chickpeas for crunch. The perfect mixture of brine-y savory flavors that was excellent with a glass of crisp Vernaccia.

Overall a truly wonderful meal, no wonder the crowds are flocking to Rosemary's. I look forward to returning soon. 

Note: They do not take bookings. To avoid a wait, try and arrive before 6:30 on a weeknight. By 8:30 there was a two hour wait last night.

18 Greenwich Avenue @ 10th street

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day 856 : Flatbread Pizzas

Inspired by a recent visit to my favorite local wine bar with awesome flatbread pizzas, I got to thinking about the perfect summertime special pizza, easy to prepare and definitely different than your red sauce or even all white pizza.

I tend to use a gluten free frozen crust crafted by Udi's but feel free to utilize whatever you would like as a base, frozen, fresh, or homemade. So what goes on this crust you might be wondering?

First brush the crust with a nice amount of EVOO, chives, basil, sea salt and crushed black pepper. Next up sprinkle a 1/3 cup of aged grated Parmesan, 1/3 cup of grated Asiago, and a 1/3 of a cup of grated Pepato (a semi-firm sheep's milk cheese infused with black peppercorns). What goes on top of your three cheeses? How about one sauteed shallot to dial up the aromatic side of your summertime pie. What next?

How about ricotta and chive stuffed zucchini blossoms? Delicate and flavorful and only really at their peak in the summer this will be the perfect pizza topping. On top of the zucchini blossoms, add on a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and a few more basil leaves and pop into the oven at 350 degrees for approx twenty minutes or until golden brown and the cheese is bubbling. Enjoy this with a nice crisp glass of white wine, perhaps a Sancerre.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 855 : Remembering a Cheese Trailblazer - Daphne Zepos

This past week, the world of American artisanal cheese changed forever -- Daphne Zepos passed away at the age of 52 due to lung cancer.

Daphne Zepos changed the way Americans ate, eat, think, and appreciate cheese as a writer, educator, aficionado, importer, chef, advocate, and more. Where to begin? Zepos co-owned the Cheese School of San Francisco which is one of the foremost cheese education facilities in the country. She also founded the Essex Street Cheese Company that imports small production European cheeses and really introduced Americans to Comte and other popular European cheeses that simply were not available in the American market. She also co-founded the Cheese of Choice Coalition known for preservation of raw milk and artisanal cheeses. From 2002-2005, she played a lead role at Artisanal's Cheese Center, curating and caring for the three hundred cheeses stored in the caves at the time along with being at the helm of their education program. She was a former board member of the American Cheese Society and was the Chairperson of the ACS Annual Cheese Competition from 1999 to 2002. She also wrote on the topic of cheese and all the cheese for the Atlantic -- spreading the wealth of her knowledge to the world. The list goes on and on.

Zepos truly changed the way Americans interact with cheese -- from the growth and stimulation of local farms to the drastic increase in small production European cheeses readily available here to really teaching Americans to appreciate cheese in the ways that Europeans always have.

You may wonder how does someone get into the world of cheese in this manner?

Well Zepos started out as a chef at the hotel restaurant Campton Place in San Francisco where not only would she don her chef whites in the kitchen, she would also change into formal attire to push around San Francisco's first cheese cart and offer diners a European style cheese course. Funnily enough, growing up when my family went to San Francisco we stayed at the Campton Place and although a different era I reckon, what a small world it would have been to have been served cheese by Zepos.

In honor of her memory and the advancement of cheese education, donations can be made through the American Cheese EducationFoundation c/o of the American Cheese Society online at

It's amazing to stop and think what miracles she accomplished in her brief but brilliant time on earth.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Day 854 : Saturday at the Beach

When out in the Hamptons for a summer weekend where should you go to buy cheese?

Well Lucy's Whey in East Hampton of course!

An excellent selection of American artisanal cheeses, cured meats, preserves, crackers and breads is on offer in this small quaint shop next the local nail salon.

Fromagical recommends right now Mecox Bay Dairy's Sigit -- Produced locally, it is Mecox Bay Dairy's aged cow's milk cheese aged for at least 18 months. Nutty, butterscotchy, caramelly and buttery, this aged uniquely locally infused terrior cheese is perfect with a glass of light red wine while you're waiting for the grill to warm up to cook your veggies, meats, and fish.

Here's to a great weekend out in the sun!

Lucy's Whey
80 North Main Street
East Hampton, NY

Friday, July 6, 2012

Day 853 : An Aromatic Summertime TGIF Pairing

You know its a summer Friday when the idea of lying by a pool in the sun with a glass of rose brings a smile to your face. July 4th came and went and we're moving into the dog days of summer where books, hammocks, BBQs, beaches, and drinks with umbrellas in them sound like just the ticket.

Last summer I discovered a fabulous trick that I have since adopted -- a simple riff on a glass of rose but boy is it wonderful! What is it you might be wondering? Add in a few sprigs/leaves of sage into a medium bodied fruit forward rose and let the rose chill over night. What do you get on the palate? A floral and fruity yet crisp and eminently drinkable rose with aromatic herbaceous tangy notes -- refreshing and light and totally perfect for a hot summer day like today.

With those rose, you want a young creamy, tangy, citrusy chevre. I like to pair big aromatic notes with big aromatic notes so I think that olive oil dusted crostini topped with Westfield Farm's Chive Capri would be perfect! Hailing from Hubbardston, Massachusetts, this fresh young goat's milk cheese is rubbed in local chives. Milky young chevre notes find their counterpart with the green aromatic brightness of the chives and form an excellent pairing partner to your sage infused rose.

Image courtesy of

Happy Friday folks!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Day 852 : My new summertime salad obsession

When it's 93 degrees out, the idea of a crisp and fresh salad just sounds fabulous with an herbaceous and light glass of white wine, right?

My current go-to salad is a pretty simple melange of ingredients but is bright and lively and hits the spot on a day like today!

What goes into my summertime salad?

Baby Spinach
Fresh Basil
Steamed corn
Sliced cucumbers
Sauteed Zucchini
Pine Nuts
Cypress Grove Psychedillic Chevre - Fresh chevre infused with dill pollen that adds a fabulous aromatic herbaceous tangy-ness to the salad.
Sea salt
Black Pepper
Homemade vinaigrette (Dijon mustard, Apple cider vinegar, EVOO, 1/4 sauteed shallot, lemon juice)
Young Goat Gouda

First step is to steam your corn and once it is finished, remove the corn kernels from the cob. While preparing your corn, dice up a zucchini and place with some EVOO and sea salt in a saute pan over low heat. Cook till golden brown. While that is on the stove, combine in a big salad bowl your corn, diced cucumbers, pine nuts, diced cilantro and crumbled Cypress Grove Chevre. Next up add your spinach and basil to the mix. Mix together and then add in your sauteed zucchini. Drizzle your homemade vinaigrette over the top and mix together. Lastly top with a nice amount of grated Young Goat Gouda for a fresh, crisp, tangy, goaty milky finish to this wonderful summertime salad!

Enjoy folks!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day 851 : Red, White, and Blue - My picks for July 4th cheeses

In honor of tomorrow being Independence day - its time to break out our Red, White, and Blue of American cheese selections courtesy of Fromagical. All Northeast based cheeses honoring our local farmers' excellent cheesemaking craft.

Our Red selection is Twin Maple Farm's Hudson Red hailing from Ghent, NY. A raw cow's milk washed rind cheese aged for anywhere between two and four months with a semi-soft consistency. Buttery and milky with a fabulous roundness on the interior has an earthy, rustic, funky, meaty richness from the washed rind exterior. A great washed rind cheese that pleases the amateur and the cheese aficionado alike. Perfect with a medium bodied fruit forward white or a nice IPA.

Image courtesy of

Our White selection is Vermont Farmstead's Lille hailing from South Woodstock, VT. Lille is inspired by Coulommiers, a French bloomy rinded cow's milk cheese that is believed to be an ancestor of Brie. But get those Brie like thoughts out of your head here! Thicker and denser than a Brie -- Lille is all about bright buttery, milky decadence -- hints of mushroom and slight fruity and nutty notes coat the interior of your mouth as you enjoy a morsel of this fabulous cheese. A perfect partner for a glass of bubbles.

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And finally our Blue selection is Berkshire Blue hailing from Great Barrington, MA and crafted by Ira Gramble. Aged just for sixty days, this raw Jersey cow's milk blue cheese is made in the traditional blue cheese manner. Spicy and piquant yet creamy, round and milky with delicate grassy notes. Perfect with a glass of light red wine.

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Have a great 4th all!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 850 : My Spanish Cheese Crush in honor of their EuroCup Win!

Spain took the cake in yesterday's EuroCup final and in honor of their win and their country's colors, I thought I would introduce you all to my favorite Spanish cheese -- red on the exterior like the team's uniforms -- Ibores.

A firm aged goat's milk cheese that has been rubbed and brushed with Pimenton and Olive oil over the course of its two to three month aging process. Bright white ivory on the interior with a bright reddish show-stopping exterior. Tangy, zesty, citrusy, milky notes are paired with an aromatic herbaceous spicy tangy round kick. Great with some crusty bread and a glass of semi-sweet Riesling from the Finger Lakes.

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Cheers to Spain!

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