This Week At The Food Counter
Cracking Into The King Of Cheeses
GIORGIO CRAVERO PARMIGIANO REGGIANO DOP
Not all Parmigiano Reggiano is created equal. Our one and only Parmigiano Reggiano DOP (not to be confused with the wood-pulp-laden, shakable “parmesan”) comes from the inimitable Giorgio Cravero, a 5th generation stagionatore (cheese ager). Giorgio and his team select young wheels from the best farms and cheesemakers in Emilia-Romagna for aging in cellars in Bra, Piedmont. The PDO (protected designation of origin) standards for Parmigiano Reggiano are among the strictest in all of Europe, requiring that raw, mostly grass-fed milk is sourced exclusively from the provinces of Modena, Parma, and Reggio Emilia and delivered to the creameries within two hours of milking. Combining the morning’s whole milk with skimmed milk from the previous day, Parmigiano makers produce just two wheels at a time in copper vats. These very large wheels (a minimum of 66 pounds after aging) brine for approximately four weeks before aging a minimum of 12 months. The wheels are then inspected by the ominous-sounding Consortium (Consorzio Parmigiano Reggiano), inspected with a metal hammer for faults. Acceptable wheels are branded and stamped for further aging or sale.
"There is no greater joy for a cheesemonger than splitting a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano"
Our Parmigiano Reggiano is sourced from a single farm south of Modena, high in the hills of Apennine in the Caseificio San Pietro. After 13 months of aging on site, Giorgio transports these wheels to his cellars in Bra where they mature to 24 months, tested regularly for the balance of flavor and texture. This is no grating cheese. When I met with Giorgio in June, he insisted that his Parmigiano is a “table cheese”, to be savored in all its mouth-watering, crystalline complexity. Despite the long aging, this cheese is tender, creamy, and palate-coating with a bright, pineapple-like acidity to complement a meaty, beef bouillon backbone. There is no greater joy for a cheesemonger than splitting a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano and we have one arriving today.
Join me at the Food Counter tomorrow, November 9th at 5 pm as I crack into an 80lb wheel of Giorgio Cravero’s unparalleled Parmigiano and toast with sparkling wines from Friuli and the Veneto.
Conserva Arrivals From The Mediterranian
TINNED FISH ARRIVALS FROM LA BRÚULA, JOSE GOURMET, & LA ROQUE
Conserva, or preserved and tinned fish, are the mark of a well-stocked larder. In my pantry, these delicacies are a secret weapon for easy midweek meals and fancy dinner parties alike. After a big restock last week, you’d be lucky to pass through our retail shop without me pestering you about tinned fish. I’m determined to convert the population of Vermont to can-wielding, tiny-fish-loving zealots and I’ll take every opportunity to show you the way. This past weekend, I took the recently arrived Jose Gourmet Stickleback in Escabeche ($10) to a dinner party where a crowd of skeptics devoured them in minutes with Torres Jamon Ibérico Potato Chips ($3.50/7), Piparra Peppers ($22/lb), and popcorn. These oily, dorsal-finned fish have the richness and texture of mackerel and come in a vinegary sauce that craves cured ham and potato chips.
"These conservas are an everyday indulgence, and with nothing more than a bit of fat, salt, herbs, and heat, can create a stunning dish with little effort."
Yesterday, I hosted a group of hungry chefs in my comically-small apartment and appeased them with a simple toast made from Red Hen Polenta Bread ($5), chimichurri, French Sheep’s Milk Feta ($12/lb), pickled carrots, and La Roque Boquerones ($18)–my favorite marinated anchovies from Côtes-Catalanes. These conservas are an everyday indulgence, and with nothing more than a bit of fat, salt, herbs, and heat, can create a stunning dish with little effort. The Dedalus pantry is fully stocked with these Mediterranean treasures–come in and ask us about our favorite recipes and pairings.
BUILDING THE CHEESEBOARD
At the holiday table, aesthetics count for a lot–great wine and food is only half the battle. When it comes to cheese and charcuterie, we want you to have the most coveted, jaw-dropping,"grammable" spread at your gathering. We’ll do all the hard work for you, selecting the best cheeses and meats on our counter at peak quality and assembling them for you in stunning edible tableaus. Starting at just $75, you can order Cheese, Charcuterie, or combination boards from our new To Go Menu. GIve us 48 hours notice (call or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can accommodate almost any group with a lush display of our favorite Food Counter products and artisan accompaniments. Want to learn how to make your own? On Monday, November 20th I’m leading an edible tutorial in our Wine Bar on how to build the perfect cheese board. We’ll taste through some of my seasonal favorites with cheese-friendly wines and condiments and review the basics of cutting, pairing, and presenting different cheese styles.
V SMILEY PRESERVES TASTING
In last weeks Provisions e-mail, I drooled over the honey and fruit-based preserves of V Smiley from nearby New Haven, Vermont. Join her this upcoming Friday, November 10th from 4-7pm for a tasting of the new Cornwall Plums & Honey($6), Sherry Cherry Fennel ($6/13), and other textured, exquisite preserves from V’s kitchen.
Artisan Food Manager