Thursday, November 27, 2014

Day 1065 : Let's all give thanks to cheese!

When planning cheese selections these days, I feel it is most important to gear your choices to your host - are they a stinky cheese person? Do they adore blue cheeses? Only like firm crystallized tangy cheeses like a nice Parmesan? Or are they like my Mother, fans of cheeses made with goat's milk?

Since my Mother always does the cooking for Thanksgiving supper, I figure the obvious way to go is with a selection of goat cheeses. All American and all purchased at my go-to spot for American cheese -- Lucy's Whey.

Cheese #1 - Cremont, crafted by Vermont Creamery. Vermont Creamery is one of my absolute favorite American goat cheese producers. Their geotrichum rinded, aged goat's cheeses changed the landscape of American aged goat's cheeses. In every morsel of their cheeses, you feel like you are tasting a morsel of France and French cheesemaking. Good cheese making if you ask me!

So what's Cremont? 

A Double Cream mixed goat and cow's milk cheese with a hint of cream. This is the sort of cheese that just melts in your mouth -- decadent and sweet in all the right sort of ways. Perfect with a glass of Cremant de Bourgogne or if you are not feeling bubbles, a Riesling cuts right through that creaminess in the best of ways.

Cheese # 2 - Madeleine, crafted by Sprout Creek Farm in Poughkeepsie. Before getting to the cheese, just a quick little note about Sprout Creek Farm. It is an educational farm, offering year round and summertime programs teaching children about farming practices, cheesemaking, and living off the land. The ultimate in farm to table education.

So what's Madeleine?

A raw goat's milk cheese that is firm and dense with dainty milky and herbaceous notes. This is a crowd pleasing cheese - easily paired with a wide variety of foods, wines, cocktails, and even beers. You simply cannot go wrong with this cheese.

Cheese # 3 - Caguya Blue, crafted by Lively Run in Interlacken. 

Most blue cheeses are made with sheep or cow's milk, both of which are milks much higher in fat content with lead to the creamy, rich, roundness that one tends to find paired with the spicy piquance of a blue cheese. 

So what's the flavor profile of Cayuga Blue?

Dense and flaky but with a bright, milky, grassiness and a citrusy tangy finish. Enjoy with cranberry sauce and a glass of Pinot Noir.

Happy Thanksgiving one and all! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Day 1064 : Giving Thanks

Gosh, it's been forever and an eternity. Life got busy and my musings dissipated, then dwindled, and then just all together vanished. But in walking through Chelsea Market en route home on a rainy, cold, Thanksgiving Eve, I got to thinking, gosh I miss my musings. I really started Fromagical as a journey and a discovery about cheese, about flavors, about how simple ingredients create thousands of different taste sensations. It was culinary art, my expression of that particular moment of creativity in my life - cheese was it. Discoveries, pairings, taste sensations, I shared thousands of stories and life moments through my cheeses. And although I still write, teach, make, and eat plenty of cheese, I decided this afternoon that my art was not just about cheese, but about food, about ingredients, about the sensations of bringing people together to as the old fashioned expression says, "to break bread." Well I don't do so much of that bread breaking literally anymore but I look back at my fondest memories over the past years and you guessed it, food features pretty strongly in those memories.

Moving forward, there will be more musings - cheese and otherwise because what is life without the ability to share the smiles and laughs with those around you.

Starting afresh, on this Thanksgiving Eve, I would like to give thanks. Thanks to all my friends and family for making each day brighter, for being there through the good times and the bad, and for  sharing in all those morsels of cheese!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Day 1063: Trans Atlantic posting..

I know it's been quite the long stretch of silence my friends and I apologize. It has been, well I don't need to say, quite the whirlwind of a beginning of 2014 and it is has left my cheese musings more twitter focused but fret not, there will be more appearances of Fromagical's musings, whether it's penned from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan or somewhere else inspiring....take for example, today's post written somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. 

Heading in which direction you may be wondering?

Homeward bound after close to ten days in Paris for work. Let me tell you, there is something supremely special about the Parisian springtime light. It's hopeful, fanciful, and truly magical and it reminds you to savor life's little moments. 

Savor I did, but primarily in the form of produce cooked in the small flat I had rented for my trip. Fret not though, there was some magnificent burrata at my local favorite bistro sprinkled into the ten days for sure. 

French tomatoes sprinkled with just a touch of sel de guerande.
Girolles and purple carrots lightly sautéed with shallots and fresh thyme with shaved 30 month aged Comte tossed with mâché.
Roasted Jerusalem artichokes and parsnips with Beaufort.
Lightly scrambled French eggs with chives and crumbled chèvre.
And much much much more..

Each meal was truly about savoring life's little moments through fresh and delightfully local produce for ten days of Springtime in Paris.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Day 1062 : Gosh it's been a while!

I know you must be thinking, gosh 2014 has been a ghost year for Fromagical's musings..where did she go? Well my friends, I definitely still exist -- these days much more so on Twitter -- in a more immediate experience basis, connecting with people over a shared love of cheese. Don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean you won't have the pleasure of seeing musings here from time to time, that's for sure. So, if you want to keep up with me and my adventures on a more constant basis, follow me @fromagical.

But for the moment, you might be wondering what's happened in the beginning of 2014? 

Where did January go you might ask? 

A blur of busy days, long runs, nights spent enjoying nice red wine and cheeses and good company. There was the fantastic discovery of the new cheese company, Mystic Cheese, hailing from Mystic, CT, and found in the cheese cases at Beecher's; the lovely aged Parmesan and sundried tomato appetizer at Bocca Di Bacco; the elegant cheese selections at Leopard des Artistes and the more casual paired offerings at Dakota Bar, both neighborhood favorites; and of course my first visit to DiBruno Brothers in Philly. Looking back, January was a full month of cheese experiences, enjoying each moment and morsel. 

But now, it's Feburary! Or well, February is almost half over, gosh, where does the time go? 

February is my clean month. What do I mean by that? 

Each year, for one month, I substitute out my red wine and dirty Gin Martinis for green tea and muddled cucumber with seltzer. At the end of the month, I'll be running the Napa Valley Marathon and the cleansing month leading up to it improves my running, my energy, my mental clarity, and has become a tradition. It pushes me to mentally prepare for my race and to stop and savor the small moments in life. So for the remainder of the month of February, I suggest my dear friends, to stop and pause and enjoy. We, as New Yorkers lead very busy, over scheduled, hectic, and stressed lives. So instead of constantly being on that hamster wheel, take a moment to stop and recognize what's around you and how you are truly lucky. Oh and definitely enjoy a nice glass of red wine for me!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Day 1061 : Welcome to a new year

The beginning of a new year is a time for hope, for reflection, for goals, and for a whole new start.  The end of any given year is a time to celebrate, enjoy, and be with loved ones, and of course to look back.

2013 wrapped for me spent in a ski lodge right off of Lake Harmony, PA, with good friends, good times, good food, good wine and of course good cheeses! It was about getting away, simplifying, and closing the year out right.

New Year's Eve is about the classics -- food that warms the heart and the soul. Classics dressed up for the evening. We started off with a bottle of Veuve Cliquot along with a selection of cheeses - classic aged Parmesan, elegant and refined and always a good choice; the dressy and routinely fabulous Sottocenere, aged truffle and ash ripened cow's milk cheese, and lastly the decadent and luxurious La Tur, a mixed milk Italian cheese that just melts in your mouth in the best sort of ways.

A few hours later, accompanied by a glasses of red wine, we all sat down to a wonderful homecooked meal to ring in the New Year and to reflect on the year gone by. 2013 was quite the year and who knows what 2014 will bring. On this New Year's Day 2014 my friends, I ask you to take a moment to think back on what 2013 meant to you and what you want to look forward to for 2014.

Happy New Year all!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Day 1060 : Christmas Eve Celebrations

Each family celebrates the holidays differently -- some focus on Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, or just a classic New Year's, others have a feast of seven fishes on Christmas Eve or cookies and presents around the Christmas Tree Christmas morning, my family is the sort that does a celebratory Christmas Eve lunch. A home cooked meal, celebratory bubbles, delish nibbles, and of course cheeses!

So what cheeses were on the list today?

The bloomy rinded, raw goat's milk Midwesterner - Juliana. Dusted with Rosemary and thyme, it is festive in every which way. Bright and citrusy, with a airy yet dense paste, herbaceous yet milky, this is the perfect cheese for a glass of bubbles. Elegant and inviting, you can't go wrong here.

Next up, how about a morsel of the firm aged goat's milk cheese from Wisconsin, Evalon? Subtle yet delectable, rustic yet round, grassy with hints of hay and a nice goaty tang. A versatile pairing partner, you can't go wrong here!

And lastly, a morsel of Bay Blue hailing from the great blue cheese producers -- Point Reyes out in California. Spicy and piquant, with a milky roundness, this cheese is at perfection right now. And to me nothing says Christmas Eve like a morsel of blue cheese and a glass of port.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Day 1059 : Winter nights, neighborhoody haunts

The Upper West Side surely isn't lacking in wine bars - whether it's the Italian focused Barcibo Enoteca on Broadway or the flatbread pizza focused Riposo 72 or the classic combination of good wines, a warm atmosphere, and tasty nibbles at places like Vai, Tolani, and Bin 71 -- there surely is something for everyone. However, as of late, my favorite of all the choices is Dakota Bar. Opened earlier this year, this space is larger than its other neighborhoody counterparts with a warm and inviting feel. The wines by the glass selections are extensive and the nibbles are broad ranging. They have three cheese selections -- the white wine collection, the red wine collection, and the beer and spirits collection. Each collection features three cheeses meant to be enjoyed with the corresponding beverage of choice. 

Enjoyed with a nice California Cab, the red wine cheese collection is the perfect bite for a cold wintery night featuring Roquefort, Robiola due Latte, and Prima Donna. Three classic European cheeses that pair wonderfully with a nice glass of red wine. Served with caramelized walnuts and pecans, membrillo, sliced apples and pears along with a bunch of red and green grapes, this is cheese selection is plenty for sharing. 

What Dakota Bar does right is it achieves that delicate balance of comfort, elegance, and warmth which truly is what you look for in a neighborhoody wine bar. 

Dakota Bar
72nd and Columbus

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