This Week At The Food Counter: October 5, 2017

October 5th, 2017

Rare swiss delicacies, red wine vinegar from the rugged terraces of Côtes Catalanes, best friends in Burgundy, and organic crackers from Madison, Wisconsin.


Although Parmigiano Reggiano may be regarded as the “King of Cheese”, Sbrinz is rumored to be Europe’s oldest cheese, with references back to 70 AD. 13th Century Italians were importing Sbrinz via pack mule from the Swiss Alps, indicating a preference for the nutty, crystalline Parmigiano analog. Our 36-month Sbrinz earns the designation of “alpage”, indicating that the raw milk comes exclusively from cows grazing on high-mountain pasture (4500ft!) in the summertime. The resulting cheese has a striking deep orange color (unlike the skim-milk Parmigiano) and a brothy, mouth-watering flavor with a shavable texture. The oldest cheese on our counter is great with Leonardi Aged Balsamico ($18) or Pomegranate Molasses ($7),  and rich white with bracing acidity, like the breathtaking Kante 2013 Chardonnay ($34.99) from Friuli.


If you’ve looked through our pantry, you’ve likely noticed the bright orange and purple cylinders of spaghetti that decorate the shelves. This Swiss spaghetti was discovered by a former employer of mine, who happened upon this extraordinary pasta while looking for cheese in the Alps. The Frisler family has produced these durum wheat, bronze-cut pastas since 1900 in the Poschiavo Valley just north of the Italian Valtellina. Their air-cured  pasta is long cooking and has a toasted, nutty flavor with a rustic texture. I love the way this spaghetti makes such luxurious, starchy pasta water–perfect for thinning sauces and distributing rendered Biellese Guanciale ($26/lb) in Spaghetti all’Amitriciana or Carbonara. Wash it all down with a bottle of the exuberant, mineral Bellus 2016 Falanghina ($21.99).


After months of searching, I’ve finally found a source for my hands-down, desert-island, life-changing favorite red wine vinegar. I’ve always had an affection for Banyuls, Grenache Noir grown on the sun-drenched terraces of Côtes Catalanes and vinified much like Port. This sticky-sweet digestif is then fermented in open barrels for more than 8 months, then aged in oak for a minimum of 5 years by La Guinelle to produced an intense but beautiful unfiltered vinegar. While the acidity is relatively low, this La Guinelle  has an incredible sanguine color and concentrated flavor that recalls the raisiny red fruit of Banyuls. I use this vinegar almost daily, but it works especially well for finishing roasted vegetables and deglazing chicken thighs.


Burgundy is notorious for its decadence, from the opulent Premier Cru wines to the infamously pungent cheeses. Affidelice, a stunning newcomer to the Food Counter, exists at the nexus of Burgundian gastronomie. This washed-rind cow’s milk cheese is bathed in Chablis throughout aging, helping develop a pungent, savory aroma and custardy texture. This is a step down in strength from the wild, meaty Époisses, but still certain to delight the most adventurous gourmand. This cheese loves Chablis (duh), and shines with the classic, weighty Laurent Tribut 2015 Chablis ($39.99).


I’m not quick to recommend a cracker–you’d be hard-pressed to find a better companion for cheese than a crusty baguette. However, I have a great reverence for crackers seasoned simply with a good snap–something that complements a range of cheese styles and flavors without competing. Potter’s Crackers are a great example of this “less is more” approach, and are made organically in small batches in Madison, Wisconsin. We are the exclusive retailer of these crackers in Vermont, and you can find them in both our Market and on our cheese and charcuterie boards in the Wine Bar. Look for Winter Wheat, Classic White, and Cranberry Hazelnut Crisps at Dedalus.

Rory Stamp

Artisan Food Manager