Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day 1000 : Of Dreams and little things

999 posts ago, I had the idea to start writing about my love of cheese and to share that love with the world through recipes, stories, experiences, cheese reviews and more. And now on day 1,000 looking towards the future -- Fromagical is on the cusp of something new and exciting. But more so, what is thrilling for this passion of mine is seeing the look on people's faces when I tell them I write a cheese blog and teach cheese classes -- they just light up with delight.

It has been a wild ride these 999 days of new cheeses, travels, experiences, making new friends, expanding my horizons and much much more. What I've learned is that with a little passion and a little drive, you can take a love and turn it into something more and to me that is what Fromagical is.

Here's to the next 1000 days of Fromagical's adventures!

Thank you to everyone who has followed me from day one and to those who have helped me grow and develop my cheese world.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 999 : Le Pipos

Where to go in Paris for that local, neighborhoody bistro with a storied history?

Look on almost any corner of Paris and you will find a bistro steeped in history and tradition - classic food, warming and comforting done well in that truly authentic French manner. No modern French creations here -- whether it's a salade au chèvre chaude, a steak frites, or classic French omelettes; go for a carafe of wine, some home cooked food, and a good time. Everyone has their favorite places to go to while in Paris, maybe it's that bistro you ate at the first time you came to Paris; maybe the place you ate at as a child or the place the owners remember you; you name it-- everyone has those places that strike that personal chord within you. What is yours?

Take a moment. And pause to let your mind wander. Is your favorite bistro in the 6eme? Maybe hidden behind the Rue du Rivoli or perhaps on the Ile St Louis. Maybe not, maybe it's up near the Bois du Bologne, you name it.

While in Paris for the past few days, I discovered a new bistro known as Le Pipos conveniently located in the 5th actually right on the street in the film "Midnight in Paris," where the actors suddenly jump from the 21st century back to the magical wonder of 1920s Paris. Set atop a hill, this little bistro is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Paris. A series of small interconnected rooms on different levels make up the interior space with a handful of sidewalk tables.

Seated outside, we ordered seasonal vegetables -- a roasted artichoke with a lemon vinaigrette dipping sauce and steamed leeks with a similar vinaigrette and a petite mixed greens salad, red onion, and oven roasted tomatoes.

And cheese of course!

Cantal, Bleu d'auvergne, Tomme de Savoie and Ossau Iraty. Simple classic French cheeses but boy were they at their peak and enjoyed with a glass of Brouilly, it was the perfect end to my trip to my whirlwind trip to Paris.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Day 998: Frenchie Bar a Vins

One of those must visit restaurants right now in Paris is Frenchie. For those who can't get a booking, go to Frenchie Bar a Vins, directly across the alley, where you can sample the Chef's outstanding and inventive modernist French cuisine without a booking. But do know you have to get there at 7 when Frenchie Bar a Vins opens to get a table.

When I showed up the other night at 6:50pm, there was already a line of about twenty people deep. Granted the bar can hold about thirty five to forty, if they are lucky.

Once inside the space, one sees that the first room is two small communal tables and a petite counter bar. In the back room, there are a few additional tables, some communal and some for two tops.  The entire space has low ceilings giving it an intimate and cave like feel. Both rooms have a  warm and rustic energy enhanced by the fact that they are outfitted strictly with wood - wood tables, wood stools, wood walls, wood beams.

So what of the menu and the wine list?

The menu was divided into a series of categories -- cured meats, salads, fish, pastas, meats, cheese, and desserts. Under each category there were between two and four options -- each creative yet classic and distinctly characteristic of the chef's point of view.

So what did we have?

We shared the burrata topped with a wild basil pesto. Decadent and creamy, unctuously oozing all over the plate once cut in just the right ways. Absolute heaven in cheese.

Then I had the grilled mackerel with asparagus and anchoives. Fresh and flavorful, aromatic and delish. This was clean elevated French cuisine without a fuss.

The recommendation of the Beaujolais was fruity, light yet with a nice weightiness.

Overall a wonderful meal in the presence of a fantastic chef. Next time - a meal at Frenchie and then hopefully the newest must visit joint- Septime.

Frenchie Bar a Vins
6 Rue de Nil
Paris 75002

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Day 997: Eggs & Co

Brunch has hit Paris!

Yes my friends that's the truth!

The beloved American meal has become quite the popular in the City of Lights. But the place to go for all things egg related and brunch meals each and every day of the week is tiny Left bank joint -- Eggs & Co. 

Open daily, this tiny restaurant is full of character. With over twenty eight options for ingredients to be added to your eggs and a selection of Benedicts, over twelve different types of omelettes and much much more. Grab a seat upstairs and the congenial Australian waiter will dart up the narrow staircase to take your order.

What to have after a ten mile run along the Seine and through Central  Paris?

How about the Colette omelette but with egg whites of course and a side mesclun salad. Double espresso to go with that's for sure - caffeine is a necessity on a three day whirlwind trip to Paris.

So what was in the Colette omelette?

Beaufort, the king of French Alpine style cheeses, rarely seen in omelettes at brunch stateside but boy was it the perfect melted nutty rustic component to my eggs. Along with the Beaufort, there were oven roasted tomatoes and basil. Simple yet perfect - flavorful and fresh, this was exactly what I wanted!

Go for eggs for breakfast, lunch or an early dinner and be transported to the small vintage inspired space that could easily be found in the East End of London or on a street in Williamsburg. But no, it was in the 6eme on the Left Bank.

What a treat! 
My Parisian food adventures were off to a good start!

Eggs & Co
11 Rue Bernard Palissy
Paris, 75006

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Day 996: Huertas

New York is a place to follow your dreams, explore your passions and push yourself to your limits. Each day, many people take that leap, that risk, that chance to try something new.

Jonah Miller is doing just that. Miller hosted a three day pop up of his upcoming new restaurant -- Huertas at the Old Bowery Station. This was a means to meet people, network, sample his culinary concepts and most importantly as a springboard to follow his passions.

So what my friends is Huertas all about?

Modeled on the classic Pinxtos bars of Spain, Huertas is going to be a place to have a bite, have a drink, and have a chat. Pinxtos are one bite nibbles meant to be enjoyed with a glass of wine or in this case an Asturias cider. Huertas will be a place to go for your Spanish delicacies like charred pulpo or a morsel of Tortilla Espanola or a fresh white anchovy served with an olive and pepper among many other classic savory Spanish dishes.

The thing that makes Pinxtos bars different from say your local wine bar or restaurant is the feeling -- the traditionally cavernous spots envelope you in warmth, cheer, and the most wonderfully convivial atmosphere. Miller's pop up, Huertas, mastered this feel even though it wasn't in such a space and that my friends is the ticket to a successful concept.

Delectable nibbles and a unique selection of ciders and Spanish wines will make the future restaurant, Huertas, a great spot, but for the moment, the popup surely tempted your palate for more. The food had a Spanish soul with each morsel sending my mind to the bars of San Sebastián. And what a treat the Asturias ciders were.

Here's to Miller's dream and the future of Huertas.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Day 995 : Melibea

Set off of Greenwich Avenue on Bank Street, just a stone's throw from the hustle and bustle of Greenwich Village, sits Jesus Nunez's newest restaurant. Nunez started out his New York City restaurant career with a modernist Spanish restaurant in the Upper West Side, Gastroarte, once known as Graffit. Unfortunately although the food was playful and artful with a unique Spanish flair, the concept did not stick. But what did stick was his -- bright and airy farmhouse style space -- Barraca, actually around the corner from Melibea. At Barraca, you find Spanish classic dishes done well -- good for groups or just a drink with friends.

Melibea, is Nunez's newest foray into the dining scene -- a contemporary Mediterranean joint. Walking into the space, there's a sleek meets farmhouse feel. A lively bar area greets the diner followed by an elevated eating space.

The menu itself is composed of shareable small plates, appetizers, salads, and entrees. Told by the waitress that the shareable plates come out pretty quickly we decided to order one of those to start -- Stuffed Mozzarella with confit tomatoes and fresh herbs served with grilled bread. So much for quick, this simple and classic Mozzarella preparation took quite a while. My first thought was that this was going to Mozzarella stuffed with confit tomatoes and fresh herbs as the menu indicates it is, but no, this was Burrata served with confit tomatoes and fresh herbs, big difference there! Granted, you cannot go wrong with decadent and unctuous creamy cheese served with the rustic juiciness of the tomatoes and the bright aromatic vegetal qualities of the herbs.

So what next?

We had their Falafel Salad with spinach, raisins, almonds, Labneh and a tahini-lemon dressing. The salad was delicious and flavorful and the falafels were done to perfection!

We also split two of their vegetable sides -- their brussel sprouts with preserved lemon and pimenton along with their fried cauliflower with raisins and spicy mayo. The brussel sprouts were not at all what I expected -- a spicy salad of brussel sprout leaves with a citrus brightness but lacking in one unifying flavor moment. And what of the cauliflower? Well it was pretty much tempura fried cauliflower.

Their wine list on the other hand has some decent deals on wines by the glass along with boasting an extensive cocktail list.

Go for a drink and a small nibble in the front bar space. It's in a great location and has a warm congenial vibe.

2 Bank Street

Monday, April 15, 2013

Day 994 : Mozzarella Company

Location - Dallas, Texas baby!

The home of the largest working farmer's market in the country and the town where the margarita was born. What else is Dallas the home of?

Paula Lambert's Mozzarella Company! Located at 2944 Elm Street, this petite shop has been ground zero for Lambert's labor of love since 1982. After a trip to Italy in the early 1980s, Lambert fell in love with mozzarella and with the craft of making her own. The stars aligned- she knew that she wanted to bring small production hand crafted cheese making to her hometown of Dallas, Texas.

Nowadays over three decades later, Lambert and her dedicated staff craft over 250,000 of cheese yearly -- a selection of mozzarellas, fresh and aged cow and goat's milk cheeses.

Back in New York City, I had enjoyed her Hoja Santa many a time -- young goat's milk cheese wrapped in Hoja Santa leaves. This little cheese wrapped with a bow boasted tangy, citrusy and bright flavors with a fabulously aromatic finish full of vegetal and floral nuances.

But I wanted to see what I could find in Dallas that I couldn't find in NYC.

What did I find?

First off - I found their aged goat's milk cheese rubbed with an ancho-chili rind. Spicy and rustic yet crisp, citrusy and light. Perfection with a glass of Pinot Gris. Rubbing the exterior in ancho-chilis allows for this burst of spice on the palate followed by a mellow brightness from the aged firm goat's milk paste.

And what was my other discovery?

How about their Caciotta? Semi-soft aged cow's milk cheese infused with Loroco, an edible floral plant hailing from El Salvador. Yes you could find Caciotta plain or infused with Ancho chilis or Texas basil, Mexican Marigold Mint or  Black pepper or garlic but the Loroco version was "limited edition cheese" -- crafted with an edible flower given to Lambert and the Mozzarella Company. What a treat it was! Rustic yet floral and aromatic, with a grassy tang, this round and buttery cheese was a true unique delight. Also enjoy with a nice glass of Pinot Gris.

There were so many other cheeses and goodies that tempted but those will have to be for another time. It was a treat being able to enjoy other goodies from the Mozzarella Company.

Mozzarella Company
2944 Elm Street
Dallas, Tx 75226

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Day 993 : Spain in the house

What house?

The Old Bowery Station, Openhouse's awesome pop up space on Bowery and Kenmare, 168 Bowery to be precise.

Want to check out a pop up, three night restaurant?

Well then between April 18-20, come on down to Chef Jonah Miller's Huertas pop up! Two seatings are on offer each night at either 6:30 or 8:30pm. Each seating is $50. For that $50, you get a selection of Spanish delicacies -- pulpo gallego, white anchovy with green olives and pickled peppers, chorizo and carrots, tigres mussels and more. The Northeast Spain finger foods are served with Asturian cider.

Maybe you want to learn out to cook Spanish food at home instead?

Then you should most certainly get tickets to Leti's Spanish Cooking Class on
Monday, April 22. From 6 till 8pm, you'll learn how to make seafood paella, gazpacho and chocolate cake. While you're cooking, enjoy some sangria and Spanish music to get your blood moving. For $80, you will get all the cooking materials for the three course meal and drinks.

It's the Spring of Spain!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Day 992 : What to buy right now

Not sure what to buy right now as Spring finally arrives in New York City?

Fromagical has your answer!

Get a morsel of Shepsog from Epicerie Boulud!

Shepsog is a mixed sheep and cow's milk cheese crafted by the folks at Grafton Village Cheese. Known for their cheddars, Shepsog is one of their newer cheese developments. Aged for six months this round, buttery, and grassy cheese is the perfect snacking cheese -- great for any occasion! Enjoy it with a glass of medium bodied white wine or a light red wine.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Day 991 : Pre-run dinners

This morning I plan to run the large loop of Central Park, followed by a 15k race, followed by another large loop of Central Park plus a little bit more to make a 22 mile training run getting me that much closer to the Stockholm marathon on June 1st. For me, the goal, the challenge, the training, the end result and the feelings felt throughout the experience are what makes it worthwhile. Sure those moments when my alarm goes off at 6am on a rainy cold Wednesday are particularly unappealing but there is nothing like the feeling of crossing the finish line of a marathon.

People always ask me what I eat the night before a run like this and their first thought is pasta, to which I always say no.

So what did I make for dinner last night?

If you know me, you guessed it right, quinoa, of course!
A slow release carb high in fiber and protein packed full with all essential amino acids and much more.  Last night I decided to make a celebration of springtime greens!

So what went into last night's quinoa?

Montezuma Squash
1/2 yellow onion
Roasted Almonds
24 month aged Parmesan to dial up the extra added nuttiness
Sel de la Guerande
Steamed King Crab
Black Pepper

How to prepare this dish?

1. Put quinoa water on to boil. Once boiling, drop the quinoa in and stir every so often.
2. Chop up broccolini, squash, and onions. Saute with EVOO, sel de la guerande and fresh black pepper over low heat for approximately ten to twelve minutes. Add in chopped up almonds, Parmesan and basil and saute for another five minutes.
3. Combine and grate slightly more of the Parmesan over the quinoa.
4. For the king crab, place king crab legs in a large pot of boiling water and cover. Cook for approximately seven to ten minutes. Once you have succeeded in getting the meat out of the crab, mix all together for a high protein and veggie centric pre-run meal.

Here's to Stockholm!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Day 990 : Vermont Creamery in NYC!

What an exciting moment! One of my favorite creameries was hosting a little get together at Murray's Cheese Bar. An opportunity for the people behind Vermont Creamery to really be able to connect with their audience - media and restaurants alike.

Yes you could sample all of the fabulous Vermont Creamery cheeses that you have heard me write about often -- whether it was a morsel of Coupole with some dried apricots and Marcona almonds or their Bonne Bouche with dried currants and local crisps. In the mood for something interactive? 

You could roll your own fresh chevre! And roll my own, I did, with a combination of fennel pollen, lavender, and currants. Granted I apparently was not a pro at rolling the herbs onto the chevre as certain areas ended up with a healthier coating than others. 

Not in the mood for something interactive?

Well you could have some raclette served with the traditional bread, potatoes, onions, and more or perhaps a warm chocolate souffle topped with Vermont Creamery's Creme Fraiche Vanilla Whipped Cream.

Or if not, you could sample a variety of Murray's Cave Aged Cheeses -- Torus, Hudson Flower, Quadrello di Bufala, Barden Blue, Challerhocker and Harod. 

Beers, wines, and bubbles were a flowing and an upbeat lively atmosphere full of cheese lovers filled the room. It was such a treat for this creamery to be here in New York City talking to their biggest supporters -- it allowed one the opportunity to interact with the people that make the cheeses you enjoy bringing food producers closer to the consumer! Ultimately lessening the commute from creation to enjoyment. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Day 989 : Brunch at dell'anima

Opened close to six years ago, this neighborhood joint named after "of the soul," in Italian, is always packed with folks looking to enjoy some of the simple yet elegant and flavorful Italian dishes on offer. In the warmer months, there's sidewalk seating right behind the restaurant on a quiet and quaint stretch of West Fourth Street. In the chillier months, step on in to the small yet warm and friendly space for excellent dishes.

Yesterday, after a seventeen mile run, it was time to try their wonderful brunch which Fromagical had yet to experience. Their brunch menu was inventive yet warming and comforting -- a melange of salads, pastas, egg dishes along with a selection of creative cocktails.

Start with a Dell 38, inspired by a French 75 -- this refreshing and light cocktail is composed of fennel infused gin, lemon juice and sparkling wine. A cocktail after my heart!

And what of their food offerings?

First off -- their homemade ricotta topped with honey and pine nuts was just the perfect beginning to the meal. Served with grilled bread, this bright milky Italian classic young cheese was a delight.

Looking for something refreshing? Then try their Seasonal Fruit Salad with yogurt, basil and mint. Crisp and flavorful yet light and fanciful!

Maybe you were looking for something more brunchy?

Well then Fromagical recommends the Uova Fungi composed of two poached eggs, sauteed cremini mushrooms, creamy polenta and Parmesan. Rustic and earthy yet warming and comforting -- just what one wants in a brunch dish. Perhaps you don't like poached eggs, then go with their frittata composed of kale, red onions, charred fennel and Pecorino topped with a small melange of arugula and other greens. Flavorful and dynamic yet simple and satisfying, you can't go wrong here!

Overall - a truly enjoyable meal at a fun and lively joint. The perfect beginning to my Sunday afternoon.

38 8th Avenue

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