Friday, August 31, 2012

Day 885 : Labor Day Weekend Picks

Gosh I cannot believe it's already the "end" of summer - it seems like yesterday the bathing suits, bottles of rose, picnic blankets and barbecue grills came out for their season. My favorite time of year when the temperatures are warm, the days are longer, the flowers are in bloom and life chugs along at a slower pace.

For the last weekend of the summer, Fromagical recommends three cheeses for this weekend's festivities whether its at a beach or in the mountains or in the city:

1. Woodcock Farm's Summer Snow - Think decadence and creamy wonder, fluffy and fantastic, this cheese is all Vermont rustic terroir inspired by the round unctuous Camembert. Perfect with a late afternoon glass of bubbles.

2. Spring Brook Farm's Reading - Rustic, earthy, and barnyardy yet sweet, grassy and warm -- the best American interpretation of the cozy Alpine superstar, Raclette. Dynamically nutty yet milky and honest, this cheese is a delight! Enjoy with a medium bodied white or even a nice IPA.

3. Rogue Creamery's Smokey Blue - Hailing from the great Pacific Northwest state of Oregon, this hazelnut shell cold smoked blue is spicy and piquant yet rustic and warm with a nice nutty smokey finish. Refined and elegant yet footloose and fancy free. Great with a medium bodied red or even a nice  robust ale.

Here's to an excellent Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 884 : A late summer supper

It's that time of year in New York where the light is golden, the fruit and vegetable bounty abounds and everyone is trying to soak up as much time outside as possible. So last night I did just that and made an excellently simple ode to my absolute favorite late summer bounty -- tomatoes.

Fromagical's Tomato Watermelon Salad -- yes a classic pairing but with a few individual touches

1 Cup of diced cherry tomatoes
1 cup of diced watermelon
3 diced up Persian Cucumbers
1 handful of basil diced
1 clove of garlic
1 handful of edamame
Crumbled Bulgarian Feta
Herbes de Provence
Sel de Guerande
Black Pepper
Fox's Balsamic Mustard

Simple, quick, flavorful, fresh and light! Perfect with a crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc for a late summer eve.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 883 : 28 year old cheddar!

Yes folks, you read that correctly, this upcoming October you will be witnessing history! Why you may ask?

Because twenty pounds of the oldest commercial Cheddar will be on sale per ounce at the Wisconsin Cheese Mart in Milwaukee. The cheddar will be $6 an ounce and will strictly be available at the Cheese Bar of the Wisconsin Cheese Mart. Along with the twenty eight year old cheddar, there will also be a twenty plus year old cheddar on sale only in half pound wedges for $30 each.

Curious to know what this super duper aged cheddar will taste like? Then get yourself to Milwaukee at the beginning of October!

It surely will be interesting to see how well the cheddar has maintained flavor, structure, taste, and style after being aged for close to three decades. This cheddar has lived through Ronald Reagan, Bush Senior and Bush Junior, Clinton and of course Obama!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day 882 : Breakfast for dinner on a Sunday eve

Do you love breakfast as much as I do? 

There's just something so comforting about eggs, waffles, pancakes and more. It brings a smile to my face any time of day. There are many an evening where you will catch me making an omelet for dinner just because I love breakfast so much I need to relive it twice in one day!

There's especially something fabulous about breakfast for dinner on Sunday evenings when really you want comfort going into the upcoming week so tonight I thought I'd share my late summer frittata recipe for a great Sunday night meal, perfection on the table with a glass of Prosecco. 

  • 4 whole large eggs
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I like the consistency and the fact its lower in fat but you can always go for whole milk)
  • 1/2 cup of French feta
  • 3/4 teaspoon sel de guerande 
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 medium zucchini cubed
  • 1 summer squash / patty pan cubed
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes cubed
  • 1-2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon diced Basil
  • I like to add a pinch of crushed red pepper for a nice spicy kick
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan

  • Prep:

    1. Preheat broiler
    2. Combine "wet" ingredients in a large bowl -- aka eggs, milk, feta, salt and pepper.
    3. Saute zucchini and patty pan squash with the herbs, garlic, salt and pepper for approx 2-3 minutes.
    4. Pour egg mixture into pan till it starts going opaque and the sides start turning up - 3-5 minutes.
    5. Top with diced cherry tomatoes and basil and Parmesan 
    6. Broil frittata until set and nicely golden brown - 3-4 minutes.
    7. Take out and let sit and cool for approx 5 -7 minutes. 
    8. Serve :)

    Friday, August 24, 2012

    Day 881 : Cider TGIF pairing

    Last night I had a pint of Doc's Pear Hard Cider that got me thinking about a different TGIF pairing concept, why not do a local cider?  It is perfect as a late summer early evening beverage -- light and sparkling with a bright crisp fruitiness yet not too sweet. Refreshing yet satisfying -- an excellent happy hour drink!

    Crafted by Warwick Winery and Brewery in the Hudson Valley, this is a classic pear cider crafted from a melange of New York State apples and pears.

    So what cheese did I choose to go with our pear cider?

    How about Consider Bardwell's aged goat's milk masterpiece Manchester?

    A firm washed rind raw goat's milk cheese that's been aged for approximately two to three months, this is  bright, milky and lactic with citrusy and grassy notes and a fabulous rustic barnyardy finish. The bright crispness of the cheese will find its home with the same notes in the cider and the aromatic fruitiness of the cider will complement the washed rind rustic notes of the cheese.

    The perfect end of summer local pairing for the beginning of a lovely weekend.

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    Day 880 : The Great American Cheese Project

    Over the past summer, Artisanal has spearheaded a crowd funded project to stimulate the availability of and interest in small production American cheeses -- a campaign that is right up Fromagical's alley. The goal is to source small production cheeses from over 500 cheese makers providing each and everyone the opportunity to have a market to sell to. Pretty cool right? I think so!

    There are eight different levels of crowd fund involvement ranging from as little as $35 up to $5,000 and with each level you receive a variety of cheese-tastic rewards!

    So check it out and be a part of something great! There are only four days left to be a part of the fun so don't miss out!

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

    Day 879 : Campari and cheese?

    Confession : I absolutely adore Campari in the summertime. I find it refreshing, delightful, and the embodiment of the sunny months of the year. Perfect seated on a beach facing out to the water watching waves crash at the shore or after a long day at work seated at an outdoor cafe people watching -- you name the summertime activity and I guarantee Campari can find its home there. Yes I'm aware that it's somewhat of an acquired taste, but it is one that I greatly enjoy. Simply enjoyed with a splash of club soda, it's divine!

    What sort of cheese should you enjoy with it?

    Something Italian perhaps since Campari is an Italian aperitif dating back to the mid 19th century.

    How about a Gorgonzola Dolce?

    The youngest of the Gorgonzola family, Dolce is aged traditionally for two months and is creamy with a round unctuous mouth feel. Lightly spicy and piquant yet milky, lactic, and creamy -- this is the perfect pairing partner for Campari. Why you may ask? Because the herbal aromatic notes of the Campari will find their counterpart in the round milky brightness of the cheese. The slightly bitter tang of the liquor will be offset by the honest sweetness yet light spiciness of the cheese. An unusually excellent summertime Italian pairing.

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Day 878 : Welcome back Stateside!

    Gosh this past weekend has been quite the whirlwind -- since I last wrote I spent another twenty-fours in London seeing some of my closest friends, enjoyed some fabulous Thai food, and soaked up the last remaining moments of my vacation. Hopped on a plane homeward bound, landed in NYC on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon to return home to the loving paws of my dog. What a fantastic trip -- rejuvenating and relaxing, the way a vacation should be!

    After a lovely long run yesterday morning, I stopped by one of my favorite local greenmarkets behind the Natural History Museum and absolutely had to get some of the local heirloom tomatoes currently in season. I also picked up some cucumbers and a melange of other veggies but my heart was seeking the tomatoes! What did I do with them last night?

    I thinly sliced two heirloom tomatoes, topped that with thin slices of cucumber and sprinkled some sundried tomato infused Majorcan sel de guerande on top of the slices. Next up some fresh anchovies and EVOO drizzled over the slices along with diced up basil, parsley, and chives. Topped with long thin slices of aged Parmesan and some freshly ground black pepper, it was the perfect savory and fresh ode to the tomato and to the flavors of the Mediterranean to welcome me home. Simple yet flavorful - bright and light, a great Sunday evening meal.

    Here's to many more adventures in and around New York and further abroad to come.

    Friday, August 17, 2012

    Day 877 : The last days in the Loire Valley

    Since we last caught up, we’ve had some pretty fun stops in the Loire Valley finishing with a 4:30 am wakeup and a sunrise drive to Paris for a vertibly dreamy morning breakfast before hopping on the Eurostar back to London and then home tomorrow to New York City, gosh I can’t quite believe that my trip has come to an end!

    But before that – we’ve had some pretty exciting excursions in our final days and moments in the Loire Valley. Where have we been?

    Well we went to Selles sur Cher – the little namesake village of the fabulous ash ripened goat’s milk disc known as one of the classic Loire Valley goat’s milk cheeses the world over. Right near the town square, there is one small cheese shop with the classic Jacquin chevres – I just absolutely had to get one of the demi-sec chevres, aged giving it a firm, tangy, milky and citrusy consistency with a chalky and bright yet rustic and slightly earthy finish. Perfection with a glass of Sancerre! Apart from the classic chevres, they are also known for a Bleu de Chevre – a semi-soft goat’s milk blue that is among the most refined and elegant blues I’ve ever had, citrusy, bright and grassy yet slightly spicy, tangy and piquant. A beautifully delicate cheese that just melts on your tongue. Great with either a white or red or perhaps even a sparkling.

    Where to next?

    How about the town of Valencay?! Another classic Loire Valley goat’s milk cheese – ash ripened as well but in the shape of a pyramid. The cheese has such a presence that the local boulangerie / patisserie even makes a chocolate mousse in the same shape and style in case you were more of a fan of chocolate than cheese.

    Tiny towns in the French countryside with such large presences in the global cheese world – sometimes size doesn’t matter, right?

    What else was on the agenda?

    A very special lunch at the Chateau de Rochecotte in Saint Patrice. 19th century opulence meets inventive modern cuisine in a terribly dramatic and old fashioned French dining salon. A rouget salad with classic provencal touches followed by a “mille-feuille” with cod, eggplant, roasted tomatoes, and basil pistou. Finished with the most gorgeous cheese tray of the region – goat’s milk cheeses, washed rind cheeses, firm cheeses, and of course some blues. This was a lunch to savor – to appreciate your surroundings, the company, the trip, and the experience.  It was a moment to pause and say thank you.

    Overall a wonderful trip to the Loire Valley – I cannot believe it is over and now back to London, one of my favorite cities in the world for a last night in Europe before heading home.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    Day 876 : Day Three in the Loire Valley

    So where did we leave off?

    With the local chevres – each more delectable than the next…

    After a gorgeous run through the fields of sunflowers and hills of vines, we set out yesterday morning to go visit Domaine Huet in Vouvray, about an hour away on tiny one lane roads weaving through ancient French towns, each more pleasant than the next but strikingly without a soul present in any of the establishments or on the streets.

    So what separates Vouvray from Chinon in terms of wine production you might be wondering? Well Vouvray is all about whites and bubbles! In Vouvray you tend to find – Sec, Demi-Sec, and Moelleux style whites along with the variety of bubbles on offer. The classic Vouvray style wine is Demi-Sec, not too sweet, not too dry, nice and minerally yet fruity with a citrusy, grassy tang, medium bodied on the tongue yet light as well. Great with fish dishes and a wide variety of local cheeses. Ok, so maybe you’re like me and you really only like super crisp whites, give yourself over to the Vouvray Demi-Sec, it surely is a nice change of pace.

    At Domaine Huet we had the pleasure of tasting through their entire line of stills, sparklings, and Moelleux wines. Domaine Huet has vines in three different plots – Le Haut-Lieu (deep brown clay based soil giving way to full bodied round wines), Le Mont, (bordering on a hillside, this is stony green clay and silica based soil giving way to refined and elegant wines) and lastly Le Clos du Bourg (located right about the church of Vouvray with shallow limestone soil that tends to give way to solid well-formed wines.) For someone interested in terroir and in the difference in the taste and structure profile of a wine based on the type of soil, Domaine Huet was a goldmine – the same grapes planted in the same region but simply grown with different soil profiles produces such a wide variety of wines! By favorite was the Demi-Sec Le Mont 2011, a beautiful, well composed and elegant wine.

    Moving along from Huet, we stopped at Chateau Moncontour, a fifteenth century chateau that was said to be Balzac’s life-long dream to own, except unfortunately he never had a sufficient amount of money to purchase the property. Needless to say, they had quite the selection of bubbles and still wines. My favorite was their Vouvray Cuvee Predilection 2008 “Grande Reserve” – delicate and refined yet full bodied and full of flavor nuances – nutty and toasty with bright orange citrus notes and fantastically small bubbles. This was special occasion bubbles done well.

    After lunch at a cute local bistro in Vouvray, we ventured to Bourgueil, with the hopes of a few more visits here and there. Well that did not go as planned unfortunately – either we could not seem to locate what we were looking for even if both our car and phone GPS informed us that yes we were there or well it was the middle of August and the Domaine or Fromagiste was closed up tight. So where did we stop, just past the fourth left turn in Restigne, down the tiny road sandwiched by vines around the second bend at Domaine de la Chevalerie. There we discovered the “pere” of the domaine, a tenth generation winemaker who was picking renne claudes from the property’s trees. He escorted us down to their caves where we were able to see their Bourgueils aging in bottles dating back to the late 1960s – this was small family production at its best. As the “pere” put it, “they’re about family not business nor commercialization.” Their wines are only available for small purchase and they are not distributed in any restaurants. It is so rare to see such familial history and passion in the wine making business like this anywhere but in France. A great way to end the day!

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    Day 875 : Day Two in the Loire Valley

    Hello from the Loire Valley – since I last wrote the past two days have been full of driving, adventures, and good times. Where to first?

    How about lunch on a goat farm outside the town of Villandry! L’Etape Gourmande is a small goat farm just past the second field of vines and the third field of sunflowers on a small D route leading into Villandry. A bunch of wrought iron tables were assembled in a courtyard of sorts and a fresh delish simple yet creative menu was on offer.

    We each had a poached egg with girolles sautéed in coffee and red wine with some of their local fresh chevre and a sprinkling of herbs to add a flavorful aromatic punch. Simple yet refined, inventive and creative yet not too out of the box. Followed by a classic green salad and of course their selection of three cheeses – a camembert style cheese, a brin d’amour (the classic triple cream infused with local herbs), and of course a Selles sur Cher (an ash ripened, aged goat’s milk cheese true to the region), served with a homemade pear compote, it was a true French farmstead experience.

    Next stop – the manicured gardens of the Chateau de Villandry of course. Designed and inspired by traditional Renaissance gardens, the Chateau of Villandry boasts seven different gardens – the love garden, the woods, the water garden, the sun garden, the maze, the herb garden, and the vegetable garden. Each more beautiful than the last – it really enforces you to stop and smell the roses both literally and metaphorically – making you realize how much work goes into the cultivation of our produce, meals, our surroundings and really everything. These gardens are a labor of love available for all to appreciate. What a treat!

    Where to next?

    How about a few of the local wine producers in Chinon? Chinon is known for its reds, being the heart of red wine in the Loire Valley. One tends to find light, mineral forward yet round 100% Cabernet Franc wines, I think best served slightly chilled. Earthy and chalky yet full of light red berry notes and a nice round finish. Apart from the reds, we found a few fabulous roses and some bubbles. But wait till today’s recap when it comes to wine producers as they truly blew us away.

    The day would not be complete with a visit to the local goat cheese producer, off of the D116, just past the hill of vines, around the next bend and up and back a few hills and just past the intersection. Le Vazereau was one of the close region’s only fromagistes and farmers specializing in of course Saint Maure de Touraine (the ash ripened goat’s milk log known here and abroad as being one of the top cheeses of the Loire Valley), along with a few of the other ash ripened goat’s milk cheeses – Selles sur Cher, the soft ripened Crottin de Chavignol, a few styles of Tomme de Chevre and a Bleu de Chevre. The Saint Maure blew us away – dainty and light yet bold and flavorful – chalky, citrusy, tangy, grassy, milky, and all around fantastic. This cheese bears no resemblance to the cheese of the same name that we are able to buy in the US. Boy was it spectacular! Perfect with a glass of Domaine Huet’s La Mont Demi Sec 2011. (More on that visit soon!) Apart from the Saint Maure, the Tomme de Chevre also wowed – honest and flavorful – with that classic goaty tang, a nice citrusy, lemongrass-y side with a grassy yet rustic and earthy finish. Perfect with a glass of local Chinon chilled. Overall – each cheese was out of this world and the perfect introduction to our visits with local creameries in the Loire Valley.

    Stay tuned for more tomorrow!

    Monday, August 13, 2012

    Day 874 : Landing in the Loire Valley by way of a few little detours

    Since I last wrote you from our mountaintop perch in Majorca, I had the pleasure of spending an overnight with an artist in the most magical house on the outskirts of Barcelona followed by a flight through Zurich to Paris, yes I know it sounds ridiculous to go from Spain to Switzerland to go to France but that was what I could find. Arriving in Paris, I was excited for the beginning of our yearly tradition of our mother daughter vacation. Unfortunately our French GPS system or shall we call it CD wanted to make sure that we extended our driving trajectory to arrive in Marcay, a tiny blip of a town near Chinon, by a few hours. Sure the local roads winding through small French countryside villages were stunning but a two hour drive that turned into close to five and a half hours was maybe not what we expected especially after my mother took the night flight the night before. Granted we stopped for a petite lunch followed by a tasting of local Chinon reds and sparkling wines en route. Stopping after 2pm on Sundays in the French country side for lunch is not an easy thing to do -- most establishments are closed including supermarkets -- Sundays are about rest here. But we luckily found a little hotel off the side of the road where we could have two simple fresh salads and a selection of cheeses to choose from.

    There really is nothing like French cheese -- their Roquefort, Comte, and Valencay wowed!  But above all -- the local Valencay blew us away. The tangy citrusy chalky notes in the bright white milky cheese were the perfect Sunday afternoon treat and just what we needed to continue on our journey.

    Stay tuned later for many more cheese and wine excursions in and the Loire.

    Friday, August 10, 2012

    Day 873 : Big city life on a small island

    For our last day on this ruggedly majestic island, we decided to go down to Palma - the biggest city on the island to tool around - see the cathedral and the port and what city life on Majorca has to offer.

    Driving into town on the biggest highways we had been on all trip was a bit of a shock -- big box stores and strip malls lined the route driving in. I'd had enough already.

    Ok so maybe I needed to give this another shot...we parked in the center of town to have lunch at Simply Fosh - an affordable yet highly regarded restaurant where three courses of excellently prepared food were available for under 20 euros -- not a bad deal for our only meal out on the trip. Walking from our parking spot to the restaurant, I started to see more of the appeal of town - snaking cobblestone streets set on hills with small little shops and restaurants hidden from plain view.

    Arriving at the restaurant in an old converted monastery, we were all quite pleased. A modern renovated courtyard offered outdoor seating for our lunch.

    What did I have?

    I started with a summertime yellow tomato gazpacho topped with a dollop of homemade guacamole, a few local cherry tomatoes and little dollops of mango purée. I know it sounds like a weird mélange of flavors but it was fabulously refreshing and fresh! To follow I had a sautéed sea bass topped with local olives and white beans finished with a tomato bisque. The essence of Majorcan flavors - olives, olive oil, tomatoes and fresh fish. Perfect with our glass of Verdejo! And finally to end - warm goat's milk cheese with fresh asparagus, sundries tomatoes and arugula. A nice savory end to a delightful treat of a meal! It was fun for us to experience some of the local cuisine that was not home prepared but I'm happy to be back at our house thinking about what to cook for dinner.

    Leaving the restaurant, we explored a bit of Palma before heading to our fourth beach of the trip in the southwest of the island -- bright bluish turquoise water beckoned surrounded by a steep rocky cove untouched by civilization -- perfection!

    After a few relaxing hours on the beach, we headed back to our mountain perch confident that we had made the right decision about where to stay during our week on this island in the Mediterranean. Overall, it has been exactly what the doctor ordered -- plenty of relaxing, reading, sun, fun, running, home cooked meals, and wonderful times with some of my closest friends -- what more could you ask for?

    Thursday, August 9, 2012

    Day 872 : Of sun, sand, mountains and rocks

    Since I last wrote yesterday morning - adventures have been on the forefront of our excursion in Majorca. Heading out from the house up our hill yesterday we snaked our way up the mountain climbing on a path through olive tree terraces until it skidded to a stop. Where to go now? Why not continue northward half rock climbing / half hiking of course - the higher we got, the views overlooking the valley and the town of Soller just astounded. There's something particularly satisfying about climbing higher and higher - I find it grounds you to your place in the world and makes you appreciate your surroundings.

    Returning down the mountain - some of us having climbed higher than others to a late lunch and a relaxing afternoon on our outdoor porch that led into dinner - a celebration of fresh, market driven ingredients.

    For starters - fresh local heirloom tomatoes sliced thinly topped with some sea salt and homemade guacamole and a sliver of local semi firm goat's milk cheese. In color like Manouri but a much more giving texture, the cheese was the perfect light, bright, citrusy, grassy yet milky counterpart to the vegetal tang of the avocados and the freshness of the tomatoes. Next up, garlic, shallot and thyme sautéed girolles topped with an aged Parmesan was perfect with a glass of local medium bodied red wine that was slightly chilled. Finally a frisée salad with sautéed shallots, a poached egg and slivers of an aged firm sheep's milk cheese. The cheese was rustic and barnyardy yet nutty and tangy with a nice weight to it, an excellent mélange with the salad. Overall a wonderful market driven meal enjoyed with great company overlooking sunset on our mountain top perch.

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    Day 871 : The Island of Hairpin turns

    The majestic mountains of Northwest Majorca surely do make for beautiful vistas in every direction - small Spanish Isle villages set in the valleys and distant views of the Mediterranean Sea -- windy roads snaking up and down the mountains do definitely make for some treacherous driving though.

    Yesterday we set out to go explore a sandy beach near the Northern most tip of the island at Formentor. 67 kilometers away on these roads took us close to two hours to drive dipping in and around the mountains. Arriving to this small inlet of a sandy beach in a perfectly circular cove made the drive totally worth it. What's better than the tonic of a dip in the Mediterranean Sea and soaking up of some of the afternoon sun?!

    This was beach number two of the trip - beach number one was a scraggle beach set into a rocky cove known as Deia Cala. Not necessarily the most comfortable beach for sitting and relaxing, let alone swimming but there were two restaurant /bars overlooking the cove where one could easily spend the afternoon drinking Herbes (one of the local liquors that is infused with anise, think the Spanish version of Pastis). Deia Cala was ruggedly dramatic - a tucked away pocket of the island that made one feel as though they were at the end of the world.

    Who knows what we will encounter in beach number three today -- perhaps something totally different! Stay tuned later for our Majorcan food adventures.

    Monday, August 6, 2012

    Day 870 : Adventures in and around Soller - Part One

    Waking up yesterday morning after our trip to our mountain-top perch to a view overlooking Soller melted away any sense of stress accumulated over the past few months!

    First stop - the closest covered market in Northwest Majorca to stock up our vacation house rental with all sorts of yummy local foods to cook.

    Walking into the market, the first thing we all saw was a farmer selling local cheeses and meats - exactly what we wanted! No descriptions of the cheeses here besides a simple taste test. The cheese that stood out most to me was a firm goat's milk cheese wrapped in local leaves for its aging process. Light and bright yet citrusy and tangy, milky and lactic with a rustic woodsy bent on the finish. My first taste of local Balearics cheese had me sold! We also tried a bright white semi firm sheep's milk cheese that was the perfect salad fixing sort of cheese - creamy yet briny, salty yet grassy -- an excellent example of the local terroir infused into a fresh young pressed cheese.

    Next stop the fruit and vegetable purveyors, followed by the local olive and olive oil producer, the baker and the fishmonger. We were set with a wide array of fresh foods to cook at our leisure. But the real question now was whether or not we could find our way back to our house! We were led there in the middle of the night without any indication of an actual address and fret not, nothing came up on any of our maps to locate our house. Five different wrong turns and an hour and a half of driving around, we returned home! Thrilled to be here - we all settled into our afternoon of relaxing. Me - out on a run down the mountain and back up of course, I surely was going to get some great hill training in here!

    Stay tuned for our beach adventures and excursions to the coast.

    Sunday, August 5, 2012

    Day 869 : 2 hours later...

    A quick two hour flight yesterday afternoon and we arrived at the airport in Palma, Majorca. Over two hours later standing in line for the rental car, we finally hit the road to begin our week long adventure in the rustic mountains of this beautiful Spanish Isle. Sure it was now way past 11pm and it was hard to decipher the raw beauty of these parts but you could tell in the daylight - this was going to be just the ticket for a vacation of sun, fun, relaxing, running, cooking and more.

    Just past the first roundabout after the Soller tunnel, we met the gentleman who had the keys to our vacation rental. Nope our journey didn't end there! We were led up through the mountains on a tiny windy road without any indication of where we were headed. Thirty minutes of switchback turns later - we parked in a cobblestone driveway and walked into a house set into the mountains with a gorgeous view overlooking the town - peace and quiet far from civilization! This was to be our homebase for the next week - how exciting! Sure we might never be able to find the house on our own but that was part of the charm!

    A great way to begin our week in rustic paradise. Stay tuned tomorrow for our adventures up and down the mountains, food shopping at the covered market in Santa Maria del Cami and much much more.

    Day 868 : Good times, good friends, good food

    London wasn't only about Neal's Yard, sure it was a must but there's plenty dinner at Black's - a member's only joint on Dean Street replete with the feel of the London of yesteryear.

    A three course prefixe in a back room was dinner on Friday eve, tucked away from the usual hussle and bustle of Soho. To start, an appetizer of smoked tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil - simple, classic, delish and refreshing. Followed by a simple grilled fish. Simple, satisfying food done well! And for dessert - how about some epically stinky and barnyardy Langres serve with the traditional oatcakes. If that didn't call for a glass of Sauternes, I don't know what does!

    A twenty four hour whirlwind of good times, good friends, and good food welcomed me to the beginning of my trip. Next stop Majorca!

    Day 867 : London town

    Confession - London is one of my favorite places in the world and it sure is home currently to some of my favorite people. The perfect balance of small town neighborhoody feel in a big city atmosphere. Quaint little row houses, cobblestone streets, tucked away mews with bars to pass the afternoon away at, the lush greenery of Hyde and Regent's Parks, the constant buzz on the streets of Soho, strolls along on the Thames and more -- London surely has something for everyone.

    Arriving to London Friday morning with the Olympics in full swing - I had no idea what to expect with the crowds and chaos. To my surprise, the London that I was spending time in was quiet and calm. Granted venture near one of the Olympic venues and you were guaranteed to see plenty of volunteers holding up big pink styrofoam fingers pointing in the direction of the nearest Olympic event, outfitted of course in all Adidas gear. Regent Street was outfitted in all of the flags of the participating nations with side streets populated with rows upon rows of Union Jacks.

    I wasn't in London for the Olympic games but more so to catchup with friends and as the beginning stop of my summertime trip to Europe.

    No trip to London is complete for me without a stop into Neal's Yard -- purveyors of fantastic cheeses from the British Isles. So of course on Friday's agenda was a visit there.

    What's good right now at Neal's Yard you might be wondering?

    How about British produced, Italian inspired, aged raw cow's milk firm cheese, Federia? Nutty and tangy yet sweet and grassy. This was an excellent snacking cheese or perfect grating cheese.

    In the mood for a blue? How about Beenleigh blue from Devon? This aged sheep's milk blue was light and creamy yet bright and grassy with a subtle tangy piquant side. Perfect with a glass of medium bodied Cotes du Rhone.

    Duckett's Caerphilly also wowed - rustic and barnyardy yet creamy and round - this cheese was the sort that lingered in all the right ways on your palate. Great with a nice IPA.

    Sure that's only three, fret not, there were plenty of other cheeses that were classically British to choose from but these stood out for me.

    Welcome to London!

    Thursday, August 2, 2012

    Day 866 : Stay tuned...

    Fromagical is headed across the pond with stops at Neal's Yard Dairy in London, no Olympics on the schedule but plenty of catchup time with friends. Next stop - Majorca for relaxing and lowkey times with close buds. Next up - some mother - daughter time in the Loire valley and last a night in London. Here's to many cheese adventures across the pond to come and a happy first few weeks of August to all of you!

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    Day 865: Cob Hill Cheese

    Creamery number three on our Vermont excursion was certainly different than the others - why you may ask? Since 2000, Cob Hill Cheese has been crafted at the Cob Hill Co-housing community in Hartland, Vermont. A community currently consisting of twenty three families learning to live off the land via sustainable practices that extend from a way of life to farming to education and more. Cob Hill Cheese and Cedar Mountain Farm are just two of the many businesses that call the co-housing community home. Cedar Mountain Farm is a seven acre farm teaming with vegetables, beef, chicken, and fruit with a CSA program for the local community.

    But what about Cob Hill Cheese?

    Cob Hill Cheese has been crafting farmstead small production cheese since 2000 with the Jersey Cow's milk from Cedar Mountain Farm. They craft two aged raw cow's milk cheeses -- Ascutney Mountain and Four Corners.

    Ascutney Mountain is an alpine style natural rinded firm cheese. Aged for seven to eight months it is nutty, slightly sweet, buttery, round with a rustic, farmsteady bent. Vermont terroir and cheesemaking meets European roots. Great with a medium bodied glass of red wine!

    Four Corners however is inspired by a Welsh Caerphilly style cheese. Caerphilly and in turn Four Corners are firm yet crumbly aged cow's milk cheeses. Four Corners has this fabulous buttery milky grassy tang that goes excellently with a nice big beer.

    Overall two wonderful snacking cheeses crafted in a very unique milieu that is a model for sustainable agriculture and community.

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