Saturday, March 30, 2013

Day 988 : Asian Night Market

So lets take a little break from cheese here and discuss a really cool pop event that took place last night and will take place tonight at the Old Bowery Station on Bowery and Kenmare. A pop-up event in a pop-up event space meant to bring to life the magical mystery and wonder of the night markets of Shanghai and Bangkok and the Far East. Live music, Taiwanese Beer, and delectable treats savory and sweet abounded. Pork belly buns and summer rolls, dim sum and jerk chicken or frozen snocones and macarons and much more were on offer. This was one of those events that truly makes you appreciate living in New York City. Escape to the culinary wonders of far off lands without having to board any method of transport besides a subway, bus, or taxi. Not bad for a Friday night, huh?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Day 987 : What to buy right now

Walking into a cheese shop as we all know can sometimes be scary and if you don't know what you want, its even scarier, right?

That's what Fromagical is here for! Making life easier so you can look like a cheese aficionado!

Today Fromagical recommends getting a morsel of Pawlet from Lucy's Whey. Modeled on an Italian style toma, this six month aged raw cow's milk cheese is semi firm with a nice density. Approachable yet dynamic and developed, this Vermontster hailing from Consider Bardwell Farm is easy to love. Sweet and buttery yet grassy and rustic with a fabulously bright floral finish. The perfect and versatile pairing partner for everything from bubbles to an IPA to a medium bodied red and more, this cheese is a crowd pleaser that's for sure! Great for snacking with some roasted almonds!

Image courtesy of

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 986 : The Big Cheesy Recap

It's that time folks! Time for the Big Cheesy recap! Hosted over the past two days at Openhouse Gallery on Mulberry Street, the grilled cheese creations of Lucy's Whey, Milk Truck, Melt Shop, Murray's Cheese Bar, Say Cheese, Sons of Essex, and 'wichcraft were in a head to head battle! Who would come out on top?

But before we get to my choice for top grilled cheese, lets fill you in on all of the choices:

'Wichcraft brought you two choices :

A Berkshire pork, Fontina, pork coppa and hot pepper option which was spicy and flavorful. Along with a truffle, hen of the woods, Fontina, and Chevre option which although a nice flavor combination was lacking in that "je ne sais quoi" to really pop. And when asked what chevre was utilized, the 'wichcraft representatives did not know the answer. 

Next up, Murray's Cheese Bar with the classic grilled cheese and tomato soup pairing. The tomato soup  had a nice kick to it from a spicy paprika that was added to the soup. And what of the grilled cheese? Thick slices of pullman bread with "Murray's top secret" cheese blend. The ratio of bread to cheese was too much here if you ask me. And because there was so much bread, it was difficult to dip into the cups of soup. The soup was definitely a winner though -- simple and robust, yet warming and comforting.

Then on to Milk Truck which was still making their grilled cheeses when our hour started and was much more focused on them than on the crowd but when theirs came out they were bursting with flavor and ingredients! Thick sliced Applewood double smoked bacon, New York state Cheddar, Wisconsin Black River Blue, Caramelized Onions & McClure's Spicy Pickles on Blue Ribbon Mini Rosemary Pullman Bread. Wow, what a mouthful of flavors, right? 

Up next was the Upper West Side contender, Say Cheese, with two offerings. Offering number one was the French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese with French Onion, Gruyere, Swiss, and Parmesan. The comfort and warmth of French Onion soup in a grilled cheese sandwich, pretty fantastic on a cold day! Their other offering was the only dessert sandwich with an interactive component -- Nutella, Marscapone, marshmallows, and warm melty chocolate in a little plastic squeezy tube. A cute concept and definitely a crowd pleaser for those chocoholics out there.

Moving right along to Sons of Essex with two options -- the Bowery Bacon Crusted Melt composed of Bacon crusted Brioche, Beemster, baby Swiss, white Cheddar, and Manischewitz shallot jam. Inventive and unique, the addition of bacon on the outside instead of sandwiched between the two pieces of bread was a nice distinct touch. And their other option was Truffle Grilled Cheese on Brioche with Gruyere, goat cheese, Parmesan, sauteed mushrooms and baby arugula. Super flavorful and bright with a nice tangy rusticness. Just what you want in a grilled cheese, dynamic comfort without an overload of flavors.

Next up to Lucy's Whey, my favorite from the Big Cheesy 2012 because of its simplicity. This year's offering was Apple, Cheddar, and Ham -- "A sandwich as American as Apple Pie." Composed of buttered pain de mie, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, local apple butter, fromage blanc and a slice of ham. Simple yet flavorful, classic yet refined. Lucy's Whey did not disappoint again. 

And last up was Melt Shop's offering of Widmer's Aged Cheddar and Brick with Nueske's Bacon and Cranberry Onion Chutney on Levain Locale. Wow! This was an intensely flavorful and in your face mouthful! A definite wake-me-up on a Sunday morning!

So what were Fromagical's thoughts?

2013 was the year of bacon and truffles at the Big Cheesy. The energy of the people making the sandwiches really impacted your tasting experience, the folks from Sons of Essex were friendly and knowledgeable, excited about their offerings and about people enjoying them whereas Milk Truck was so focused on their excellent product that they did not have the chance to chat with the tasters as much as one might have liked. 

Overall a great time was had by all! But what was Fromagical's favorite?

Sons of Essex! 


Because their sandwiches were the perfect blend of invention and innovation yet 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Day 985 : Good right now!

What to buy right now at Lucy's Whey?

The season's first batch of Lively Run Cayuga Blue. Hailing from Interlaken New York, this goat's milk blue is one of the only local goat's milk blues. Aged for two to four months, it is flaky and firm yet rustic and earthy with those classic tangy, bright, grassy, citrusy and chalky goat's milk notes; this piquant blue is fantastic. Some blue cheeses have a weight to them because of the cow's milk making them perfect with a glass of Sauternes as dessert whereas the Cayuga Blue is light and fanciful - great with a glass of medium bodied white wine or a fruity jammy red.

It feels like Spring in a blue cheese!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Day 984 : The Goodwin

Located on that strip of Hudson south of the heart of the west village sits The Goodwin. Opened quietly a few months ago, this contemporary American farm to table restaurant is urban farmhouse meets rustic greenhouse . The menu is a mixture of twists on classic salads, soups, appetizers, pastas, and entrees.

Seated in the back area with views of fluffy snow falling into the enclosed garden - one feels as though they have been transported out of the hustle and bustle of daily New York City life to an enchanted world of peace and quiet.

So what to eat?

One little note first -- the servers unfortunately do not know the menu as well as I feel like they should and are not as accommodating as a restaurant should be. So go with your gut on what to order and for the most part, it will be lovely. 
I started with their greens and grains salad composed of farro, black rice, kale, goat cheese, and green apples, hold the Ranch dressing. A simple rustic and earthy yet bright and flavorful melange of greens and grains. With a lemon vinaigrette, it was crisp and delish but I could not imagine how the salad would have changed if I had tried it with the Ranch dressing. I think it would have become all about the ranch and not all about the freshness of the ingredients.

Next up, of course their octopus dish! I can't restrain myself from ordering octopus when its on offer in a restaurant, I absolutely adore seeing what different chefs do with it -- whether its grilling, roasting, steaming, frying, you name it, I have to try it! Their octopus offering was a warm octopus salad with avocado, melon, soy-mirin, and sour plums. Flavorful, dynamic and sensual, I felt that although an excellent combination, this could have utilized one other flavor element to really wow.

Overall, the space is really wonderful and the food good but I think if the food were taken to the level of the design of the space, it would be definitely a destination restaurant. I would go back for the wine and cocktails and a nibble to be able to sit in the back room as it is truly magical.

The Goodwin
430 Hudson Street

Monday, March 18, 2013

Day 983 : Grills and Lights and Melted Cheese

A day like today means cozy comfort. Goblets of red wine. Blankets. Good old movies. Melted cheese. Lots of laughter.

You would think that I would be describing a day in late December or early January, but no you would be mistaken it is mid to late March. Just last week I wrote of bright, green, fresh dreams and now I am back immediately back into the world of baking, roasting, toasting, and warming. Sure is a shock to the system!

What better way to solve this then by having a few friends over and enjoying some wine and Raclette?

In case you aren't familiar, Raclette hails from Switzerland and is both a cheese and a manner of eating this cheese. The term Raclette is derived from the word, racler meaning to scrape in French.

I think Raclette is one of the under appreciated and under valued cheeses in America but going a step farther, I think even less in the spot light is the classic way of enjoying heated Raclette with what is generally known as a Raclette lamp or Raclette grill. Think basically melted cheese over an open flame -- what really can get better than that on a night like tonight? 

Pretty much nothing!

If you feel that you want to keep things local then go for Spring Brook's Reading Raclette!

Reading is one of two cheeses crafted by Spring Brook Farm in Vermont and is the first American crafted Raclette style cheese! Buttery and sweet with a raw honest side -- nutty and milky, grassy and rustic, Reading Raclette is the perfect answer to a snowstorm in March! Melted over an open fire with a glass of warming red wine, you cannot go wrong.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Day 982 : With Daylight Savings in full effect....

Spring ahead, fall backward hit me pretty hard this year -- suddenly it was dark out when my alarm went off at 6am but boy was it thrilling for it to be light out past 6pm making it feel like a proper premature springtime. So what to do in honor of New York City feeling like springtime and in celebration of Vermont Creamery's Wrinkles are Sexy month? How about making a bright green salad topped with crumbles of Bonne Bouche, the super star of Wrinkles are Sexy?

What's in today's green salad?

Baby Arugula
Baby Fennel
Spring Onion
Mediterranean Squash (the lighter, somewhat pastel green squash)
Sugar Snap Peas
Bonne Bouche

Super easy to assemble, this celebration of the upcoming exciting bounty of Springtime will bring a smile to your face during the beginnings of March.

Start off by sauteing your Mediterranean squash with some diced up spring onion over low heat. While the squash is cooking, toss together your arugula, diced up baby fennel, and sugar snap peas. Toss with some EVOO and a squeeze of lemon, sprinkle with salt and pepper. After approximately ten minutes, combine the cooked squash with the remainder of your veggie and top with our Wrinkles Are Sexy Bonne Bouche and enjoy with a glass of bright and citrusy Gruner.

Cheers to Springtime!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Day 981 : New Cheese Crush

Location : Cornish, New Hampshire

What : Many Summer's Farm

Run by the Gallager family, this new creamery produces raw milk cheeses, yogurt, and grass fed beef crafted with American Milking Devon cattle. As I learned while up in Vermont, they tend to only milk six cows at any given time so this is truly small production cheese.

Paget is one of their firm raw milk farmstead cheeses that I had the pleasure to sample and it is funky, barnyardy, and rustic with a warming milky bent, this is a fantastic new cheese on the market.

I am always so excited to try new cheeses being created and this is sure one that I know will go places!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Day 980 : Event Announcement -- The Big Cheesy

I cannot believe a year has gone by since the Big Cheesy, the awesome grilled cheese competition that takes place at Openhouse Gallery at 201 Mulberry Street in Nolita. Well guess what folks, it is time for another Big Cheesy March 23 and 24th!

Who participates in the Big Cheesy you might be wondering?

Well there's of course last year's champ, Melt Shop and the 2011 winner Milk Truck of course! My favorite from last year with their pure and simple grilled cheese, Lucy's Whey; and new competitors like Sons of Essex and of course Murray's Cheese Bar and many more melty gooey decadent creations.

What to wash these fantastic cheesy concoctions down with?

How about some of our local Sixpoint brews?

Sounds pretty great right?

Well don't miss out on this chance to sample some of the city's best grilled cheeses in one hour time slots from 12pm to 7pm March 23 and March 24. The one hour time slots allow the space never to be overcrowded which is quite the treat!

Score tickets your $25 here:

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Day 979 : New Cheeses from Vermont Farmstead

Located in Woodstock, Vermont, Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company is one of my favorite Vermont creameries. Why you might ask? Well, to name a few reasons --- for their attachment to community growth and socio-economic stimulation in this corner of the Green Mountain State; their ingenuity and innovation in terms of their cheese production and their end goal of increasing recognition of locally crafted cheeses.

This past weekend in Vermont, I had the opportunity of trying two of their new cheeses -- Sage Windorsdale and their newly released blue cheese.

My first thought of Sage infused cheese was wow, I don't really love sage as a seasoning so how will I like this cheese? It will be too overpowering and just all herbaceous sage-y notes that will take center stage. But no I was completely wrong -- this was delicate and refined - dynamic and developed -- milky, cheese-y, round, nuttiness notes from the Windsordale base went hand in hand with the tangy, bright, herbaceous notes of the sage infusion that comes from dried sage and sage oil. Great with some rosemary crackers or baked into a mac n' cheese perhaps. I can be a big fan of infused cheeses but I never took to the firm herb infused cheeses until this one, what a treat!

And what of their new blue?

Vermont Farmstead starts with the same Windsordale base, a raw cow's milk cheese inspired by the traditional English cheese, Wensleydale. What comes next? The cheesemakers over at Vermont Farmstead blend in some of the Amablu Gorgonzola from Fairbault Cheese in Fairbault, MN. Aged for a minimum of 90 days, this stunning blue is sweet and piquant yet flavorful and forceful. By combining these two cheeses, what one gets is the best of both worlds -- spicy piquant tang and a round warming nutty milkiness. Delicate and devine -- this is a cheese that appeals to those of us who adore blues as well those of us who are timid around a blue cheese. What an exciting new development for Vermont Farmstead! I am so thrilled to see a new dynamic and unique blue coming out of Vermont!

Stay tuned for pairings coming up in the coming days!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Day 978 : Wrinkles are Sexy

Oh yes they most certainly are when they come in the form of geotricum rinded goat's milk cheeses from Vermont Butter and Cheese. What is Geotricum you might be wondering? It's a yeast that is added to goat's milk during the cheesemaking process. This yeast will cause a cheese's rind to wrinkle as it ages and my friends the more wrinkles, the better the cheese will taste!

Inspired by the age old geotricum style cheeses crafted in France, Vermont Butter and Cheese if you ask me crafts the best Geotricum rinded cheeses one can find in America. Vermont Butter and Cheese produces four fabulous Geo cheeses that have taken years of development, experimentation and perfection -- Bijou, Coupole, Cremont, and Bonne Bouche. Bonne Bouche is the cornerstone of their Geo cheese line. Released in 2001 to the marketplace, this hand ladled goat's milk disc that is aged with ash is decadent, luscious, creamy, crisp, grassy, citrusy, and wonderful. It is truly a cheese to dream of.

So this month, Vermont Creamery is giving away five Bonne Bouche prize packages in the month of March via their blog and Facebook page --

How do you win?

By sharing your favorite recipe and / or pairing with Bonne Bouche so get inventive guys and win some of my favorite Vermont goat's milk cheeses!!!!

Along with Vermont Creamery's giveaway, Fromagical will be giving away one Bonne Bouche prize package as well. So write to us and tell us your favorite Bonne Bouche recipes and pairings and one lucky winner will receive an awesome Bonne Bouche Basket!

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