This summer at the Vermont Artisan Cheese Festival I scored the last available Summer Snow from Woodcock Farm. Mushroomy bloomy rinds are a favorite of mine on a summer evening with friends. I brought it home to the Berkshires and that weekend we opened a bottle of wine, plunked the Summer Snow on a cheeseboard, and tromped out to the screen tent in our flipflops and shorts. We live outside all summer in the Berkshires, but barricade ourselves behind screens because it rains often, and the mosquitos, noseeums, and mayflies are ATROCIOUS. We settled in under our flimsy screen tent.
It was a beautiful evening with a cool breeze keeping the worst of the unwanted guests at bay. We were admiring barn swallows swooping, and cedar waxwings appearing to have an allout rave on the blueberries when the first drops of water hit us from behind. What the...? The western sky was black, but summer rain is a passing thing, and welcome. We scooted closer to the cheese.
I won my football pool (again) by picking based on cheeses and beers I was sampling this week. This is not a scientific method. And the good news is that next week I'll be chomping on new cheeses and sipping new beers, so the ramdom chances for winning are always there. And if I don't win...well, I still got to do the "research".
And for celebration tonight, I will be dining on inside out grilled cheese tonight. Triple the cheese!
Taza Chocolate in Somerville Ma.
5 years ago Alex Whitmore and partners Larry Slotnick and Kathleen Fulton (also Alex's wife) started this mesoamerican-style bean-to-bar chocolate factory. And true to their vision, this chocolate is handmade from start to finish. They buy their beans in the DR, Mexico, Belize, and they recently added Bolivia. (note: if you get a chance, try the 87% bolivian choc bar side by side with the 80% DR...then you'll really see what terroir means to the cacao bean.)
Their beans are fermented, which means, like all things fermented, flavor is amped. And then they get roasted (in the fabulous Willi Wonka machine pictured below. don't you want one? I do. and it's RED!) The beans are then stone ground, on mexican stone mills that Alex hand chisels himself (check out the pic below of him holding one.) Impressive.
You may all know this already, but Best of Show at 2011 ACS in Montreal went to Oregon’s Rogue Creamery for Rogue River Blue (www.roguecreamery.com) the 2nd time they’ve taken the blue ribbon home! Second place was shared by Ontario’s Finica Food for their Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar (www.mariposadairy.ca), and perennial winner from Wisconsin, Carr Valley, for Cave Aged Marisa (www.carvalleycheese.com). Third place was Quebec’s Fromagerie du Presbytère for Louis d’Or (www.fromageriedupresbytere.com/. These are all seriously delicious cheeses. It rare to sample Canadian cheeses we, sadly, cannot get here in the US…and to get my hands on limited production cheeses too.
Oh Canada…it’s your turn for national hurdles.
Last night we brought your Stanley Cup back to Boston after a 39 year absence (thank YOU!). Your postal system is shut until further notice, and Vancouver based Hootsuite has ticked off a few PAYING customers (http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/hootsuite-publisher-fail_b10216) with its latest upgrade. Ok. Not a good day.
But, you still have plenty of Canadian goodies right at hand.
While at the Craft Brewers Conference, Lassa and I stumbled into the Pink Boots Society, http://pinkbootssociety.org/, annual meeting. Quite unlike the 5/1 men/women ratio in the rest of the conference, the room was jammed with women in brewing; brewmasters, QA specialists, pub owners, marketers, retailers, distributors, etc. There were seasoned pros and newbies.
Sebbie Buhler of Rogue Ales (and label model on Rogue Chocolate Stout) introduced us as culture founders, and urged all pink booters (ies?) to discover cheese. And afterward, we got the chance to meet many of them.
No need to bleat on about quality or style, just keep a case around and Mom and Baby will both perk right up!
“What is that?”
Ok, not the most gracious way to greet my husband who is, uncharacteristically, standing at the stove. But on the burner is a pot the size of a minivan. In his hand is a 12 mile long spoon. The pot is filled to the rim, molten liquid bubbles bursting wetly splatter the counter, and…the floor. The dog, aka “the Mop” for the extent of this kitchen escapade, has gamely taken on floor cleaning duty.
But, when I asked that rude question I did already know it was one of two things; a lifetime supply of dragon fire salsa, or (and here is where my heart started to sink) a vat of chili.
It’s chili. We will be eating chili for quite a while.
(Why is it absolutely necessary to make chili in cafeteria size proportions? I have a theory. I think it’s because this is xtreme cooking, not to simply put food on the table, but to make a statement about the essential manliness of chili.)