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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

IMG_1972For the holidays, someone got us seats at Formaggio Kitchen’s Cheese 101 class. By far THE best present we received so far this season!

IMG_1971I hadn’t been to Formaggio Kitchen in some time, but it didn’t take long for me to remember why I love it here!

IMG_1970I could spend days browsing their specialty goods, they look and like to work with small batch producers and local artisans.

IMG_1969Heaven!! They encourage you, even if you’re not there for a class, to try lots of cheeses.

IMG_1968They have a really great selection here, even if you think you know a lot about cheese/meats etc. you can always find something new!!

IMG_1967And how nice is it that this is one stop shopping, wine and cheese oh the possibilities!

IMG_1966I love the Mast Brothers chocolate, but they have so many good choices here! So back to the class, you get two plates of cheese to sample, each with 4 pairings on it. They also pair the cheese with 4 beverages.

IMG_1964Starting at 12 o’clock on the plate, we have the Selles sur Cher from Loire Valley France with Lo Brusc Montagne honey from Provence, France. This is a fresh, unripened goat cheese that is pasteurized (any cheese under 60 days must be pasteurized) and covered in ash. They pair it with a high altitude flower honey. I’m not a real goat cheese fan, but the honey really makes this pairing. They offer a De moor Bourgogne Chitry from Burgundy, France – a nice chardonnay that has peachy notes and a mineral taste.

Next, moving clockwise, at 3 o’clock on the plate is a Twig Farm Square cheese (another goat) from West Cornwall, VT. It is paired with Membrillo Valliser quince paste from Barcelona, Spain (quince pastes taste delicious with Manchego cheese as well). This cheese is much firmer than the first and has a nice salty flavor. You can eat the natural rind, but it is a matter of preference.

At 6 o’clock on the plate we move to sheep’s milk cheese. We have the Brebisrousse d’Argental from Lyon, France served with Marcona almonds from Spain. The cheese has a bloomy rind and is made in a style similar to brie. The orange color on the rind is dyed for asthetic reasons. It pairs nicely with the almonds that are made with olives and sea salt. These two sheep’s milk cheeses that were are trying are paired with the San Fereolo Dolcetto from Dogliani, Italy. The acidic flavor pairs well with aged cheese.

Finally, at 9 o’clock on the plate we have the Calcagno from Sardinia, Italy. It is paired with  the Antigua Balsamic Riserva (a 20 year old aged Balsamic) from Moderna, Italy. A small bottle goes for around $70. As with expensive bottles of wine, I probably can’t tell the difference between a $70 bottle of Balsamic and a $200 bottle, but you certainly CAN taste the difference between something you pick up at Shaw’s and this! AMAZING is all I have to say about it!

James and Brad, our teachers for the evening, talk about how to store cheese (in breathable plastic and paper in the veggie drawer of the fridge) and how it is better to buy less cheese more frequently than the alternative. A lot of cheese is good for about a week in your fridge (give or take)

IMG_1965Moving on to plate #2, we get to cow’s milk cheese. At 12 o’clock we have the Comte Le Fort from Jura, France that is paired with the Fieschi Zucca e Zenzero from Cremona, Italy. It tastes like a Gruyere and the pairing with the zucca is delicious (it would also pair well with a blue cheese). It is flavored with pumpkin and ginger with just a hint of mustard seed oil.  If you are in, ask for a “nose piece” of the cheese, which is from the center of the wheel – it’s the best piece. They pair the cow’s milk cheese with a Bantam Wunderkind Cider from MA.

At 3 o’clock we have and English style cheddar, a Cabot clothbound from Greensboro, VT that has been aged and stored for a year. This is paired with a Woods Apple Cider jelly from Springfield, VT that is to die for. The cheddar is a single origin cow’s milk cheese and comes from the Cellars at Jasper Hill. Cheddar and apples pair well together, thus the jelly and the cider pairings here.

At 6 o’clock we move to the ‘stinky’ cheeses, here we have the Winnimere, a cow’s cheese from Greensboro, VT. It has won best in show and is only available in the winter. It has a washed rind and comes in an ash bark wrapper, the cheese is so soft you have to serve it on something. The buttery flavor is amazing. Here it is paired with a Potters Wheat cracker from Madision, Wisconsin. The winnimere also comes from the Cellars at Jasper Hill and it is paired tonight with the Night Shift Taza Stout from Everett, MA.

And last but not least, at 9 o’clock we have the Bleu d’Brebis, a sheep’s milk cheese from Auvergne, France. They have paired it with a Naive dark chocolate with forest honey from Lithuania. I’m not usually a fan of dark chocolate or blue cheese, but this pairing is amazing. Figs would be another good choice for this cheese.

We talk a little more about pairings, sometimes it is good to have something that compliments the cheese and sometimes it is good to have something that contrasts with the cheese.

IMG_1975At the end of the night, they take us in small groups down to the cheese cave. Here is where they store cheeses and then keep them fresh, although they do age some cheese down there as well.

IMG_1974There are two rooms with varying degrees of humidity. Not what I expected the cellar to be, but being around this much cheese is like being in heaven.

IMG_1976James and Brad were really great, they were knowledgeable and you could tell that they are really passionate about what they do. The class size was pretty small, about 20 or so, and it was in their retail location around the cheese counter. At the end of the class, we were offered 10% off of anything in the store, so of course I went to town – buying the balsamic, the apple cider jelly, the honey and a few other items we didn’t try in the class. Can’t wait to try out some of the other classes that Formaggio offers.

Formaggio Kitchen

244 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

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