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This Week At The Food Counter

Posted by Rory Stamp on


I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about Sugarhouse Creamery with googly-eyed adoration. This 8 cow creamery in Upper Jay, New York is owned and operated by husband and wife team Margot and Alex. Along with globetrotting cheesemaker Casey, this small but mighty farmstead creamery produces some of my favorite cheese–all of which are hand-delivered to our shop. You may remember the crystalline, pineapple-like Alpine Dutch Knuckle $30/lb, or the pint-sized, soft-ripened Little Dickens $15/wheel that adorns the cover of our holiday gift guide.

Last week, I was thrilled to learn about Red Top $38/lb, a Basque-inspired cow and sheep’s milk cheese dusted with Pimenton de la Vera. Sugarhouse is sourcing the sheep’s milk from Blue Pepper Farm in nearby Jay, New York where they raise 25 East Friesians for dairy, fiber, and meat. This Animal Welfare Approved sheep’s milk is combined with equal parts Sugarhouse Creamer Brown Swiss cow’s milk to produce this stunning new cheese. Aged just 6 weeks, Red Top develops a fudgy texture a deep flavor that recalls roasted cashew butter. In the words of cheesemaker Casey, Red Top ”makes shoulders drop in joy and eyes close in thought.” Come taste all the Sugarhouse Creamery cheeses at the Food Counter and look for Red Top in our December Cheese Club.


Every year around the holidays, my mom talks about her childhood in a Catholic, Italian-American household. The bulk of these conversations relate to food and drink, from eight-hour Bolognese with chicken livers to after dinner espresso with Amaretto. Of all of these indulgent traditions, nothing piques my curiosity more than the “Feast of the Seven Fishes.” This seemingly bacchanalian event is rooted in piety, as many Italian Roman Catholics abstain from eating meat for the Cena Della Vigilia (Christmas Eve), choosing instead to consume seven or more seafood dishes. What better way to update this tradition with our ever-expanding selection of tinned fish?

We’re getting a pile of conserva in this week from José Gourmet and La Brújula and I’m bringing a Santa Claus-sized sack of tinned fish home for the holidays. These shelf-stable, oil-poached fish are great for easy entertaining and an exciting alternative to tired casseroles and root vegetable purées.

Make a simple sardine salad with José Gourmet Small Spiced Sardines $12, parsley, garlic, and lemon juice or pulpo ceviche with La Brújula Octopus in Paprika Sauce $17, red onion, lime juice, and cilantro. Or better yet, shock and delight your family members by simply peeling back a tin of José Gourmet Trout in Escabeche $14 and having at it with a fork and a crusty baguette. Did I mention these make great stocking stuffers?


Earth, spice, and acidity–there is no other cheese I would rather be eating with Barolo and Barbaresco.

In the gastronomic traditions of Piedmont, few are as sacred as Castelmagno, the 1000-year old cheese recipe from Cuneo. Around 1100 AD, peasants from the village of Castelmagno paid their marquis this crumbly aged cow’s milk cheese in exchange for use of his lands. These large, natural-rinded wheels have an ancient process that yields a crumbly texture and a hint of blue-green veining. Earth, spice, and acidity–there is no other cheese I would rather be eating with Barolo and Barbaresco.

This week, we’re expecting our first wheel of Castelmagno d’Alpeggio $38/lb, an extra-aged wheel that is produced exclusively from the Alpeggio (or Alpage) milk. By law, Alpeggio milk must be produced in the summer from animals grazing above 1000 meters. The Montbeliard and Bruna Alpina cows of this particular herd dine on diverse alpine forage in Valliera at around 2000 meters before the cheese is made and aged well over a year. While Castelmagno is a delight on its own, it’s especially good with Piedmontese grains and pasta, particularly in the legendary Risotto al Castelmagno. From real riso carnoroli to new harvest Italian olive oil, we have everything you need to make this stunning dish at home.

Rory Stamp

Artisan Food Manager

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