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This Week At The Food Counter

Posted by Rory Stamp on


When it comes to chocolate, we’re pretty picky. I’ve only worked with one chocolate producer since we’ve opened, the incredible bean-to-bar makers at Middlebury Chocolates.

In a world of nefarious sourcing practices, mislabeling, and over-the-top labeling, Middlebury does it right. They source beans exclusively from farmers and co-ops organic or Rainbow Alliance certified–a standard of environmental and socioeconomic sustainability. These beans are roasted in small batches, ground, conched (refined), tempered, molded, and packaged–all with extraordinary attention detail. We’ve long carried their Sea Salted Bar $8 (67% dark chocolate with fleur de sel) and Tanzania Bar (75% dark chocolate), two lower percentage bars that pair beautifully with aged, nutty alpine and creamy blue cheeses.

I generally find very dark chocolate (greater than 80% cacao) to be challenging. Tannic, chalky, bitter, and acidic chocolates don’t mesh well with cheese and wine. I’ve found a great exception to my “80% rule” with the powerful, expressive Haiti Bar $8 from Middlebury Chocolates. This 85% bar has a melt-in-your-mouth smooth texture with notes of roasted figs and burnt caramel. This single varietal Trinitario chocolate supports the PISA (Produit Des Iles SA) cacao processor and exporter in Cap-Haitien. PISA works with over 1400 small organic farms in northern Haiti, one-third of which are owned by women.



There’s something special happening in Southwest corner of Wisconsin, where the glaciers seem to have forgotten to scrape the landscape flat and featureless. This “Driftless Region” is home to rolling hills, lush pastures, and some of the best cheesemakers in the American Midwest.

I had the opportunity to visit this area last summer, traveling to Dodgeville to visit Uplands Cheese, producer of Pleasant Ridge $28/lb and the seasonal Rush Creek Reserve. 30 miles down the road, Master Cheesemaker (yes, that’s an official title) Chris Roelli is making award-winning cheese in Shullsburg. Roelli’s great-grandfather emigrated from Switzerland to Wisconsin in the 1920s, and Chris is a 4th generation cheesemaker. Roelli’s father and grandfather decided to shut down their commodity cheddar factory in 1991, but Chris reopened a much smaller artisan operation in 2006.

While Chris and his father started making squeaky cheddar curds, Chris had greater plans of developing an American original. After months of trials, Dunbarton Blue $30/lb was born, a cave-aged cheddar inoculated with blue mold. This 4-month aged cow’s milk cheese is a hybrid of Roelli’s two favorite styles of cheese, enveloped in a gorgeous natural rind exhibiting white and orange molds. Blue-green streaks of Penicillium roqueforti pervade this bright, creamy cheddar with balanced earth and spice. Taste for yourself at the Food Counter and find out why this is resident cheese nerd Pat Polowsky’s favorite cheese.



In the Dedalus Wine kitchen, Dylan is cooking up a storm. New batches of house-made charcuterie are available this week including our best-selling Chicken Liver Mousse made with shallots, butter, cognac, and sherry and topped with duck fat. This silky spread is perhaps best eaten with a spoon or spread atop crusty baguette with Fallot Dijon Mustard $6 and Cornichons. Looking for a more rustic, country-style pâté? Try some of our Pâté de Campagne $30/lb, made with local pork shoulder, chicken livers, shallots, parsley, and garlic. This pairs swimmingly with the decadent cream-added Brillat Savarin $7.50/15 pc and a glass (or bottle) of Nicole Chanrion’s Effervescence $26.99–my go-to sparkler.

Rory Stamp

Artisan Food Manager

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