Here’s what I did this weekend:
Technically, not the weekend yet…Thursday night I watched the new documentary on Ethel Kennedy, an insider’s view of the Kennedy dynasty.
Friday night I was invited to a Wine & Cheese Tasting at Whole Foods Market in Portland. We sampled five wines and an ice cider and eight cheeses from the Cellars at Jasper Hill.
When I found out I was lactose intolerant my senior year of college I argued with the doctors and my body. How, after spending three years on a near lactic diet of pizza, tuna melts, ice cream and let us not forget Sal’s blue cheese dip that went nicely with the greasiest of wings…how on earth could I be intolerant to it!? Let’s just say my futile attempts to convince my body otherwise did not go well. Flash forward more than a decade, I’m in Whole Foods Market in Portland explaining to the woman behind the cheese counter what I can and cannot eat. Goat and sheep, check. Cow, nope. Maybe it was because she was so nice, or it could have just been she knew a heck of a lot about cheese, but she encouraged me to try an aged cheese – it has less lactose she said, and I did. It was a two or three bite size sample of a cheese that left me wanting a lot more of it (and my body was OK with it!). That was the day I met Shannon (a fellow Chicago Bears fan) and the moment I fell hard for Jasper Hill’s Cabot Clothbound Cheddar.
It was also the beginning of a less than scientific study of how tolerant my body could be with cheese. Portion size it seems has a lot to do with it (and alas no milkshakes). Anyhow, the Cellars at Jasper Hill …conjures up a magical (I’d like to think this Harry Potter style and all) place set in reality in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. A concrete bunker (aka cave) built by Andy and Mateo Kehler with climate-controlled rooms where batches of cheese are tasted, tracked and analyzed till they are released to the public.
Sunday I went back to the store and picked up some of Jasper Hill’s Alfa Tolman and Cabot Clothbound and a bottle of the Lockhart, Pinot Noir to go with them.
*For more information on Jasper Hill Farm and the Cellars, pickup Issue # 15 of Diner Journal (published 2010) with the thoughtful article by Annaliese Griffin on Jasper Hill Farm and The Cellars’ system.
Landaff by Landaff Creamery, aged at Jasper Hill
What does one do after eating cheese and drinking wine? Go do dinner of course. A business associate in town for a couple days invited me to dinner. Having heard raves about Grace recently I suggested we go there and was not disappointed.
Since I’m eating dessert these days (giving myself thru the holidays then I’ll wean myself off sugar again), I supported ordering multiple desserts. After all, this place is known for their pastry chef Ilma Lopez. Next time I’m doing the same, only I might order two servings of the Bananas as I’m not wont to share that dish again YUM!
Bittersweet – Layered Chocolate Cake w/ 72% Ice Cream and White Chocolate Crumble
Figs – Lemon Curd, Honey Meringue and Yogurt Sherbert
Bananas – Toasted Hazelnuts, Milk Chocolate Cream and Vanilla Marshmallows
I finished this book, read this article on Larry Flynt in The New York Times(online) and the November issues of Saveur. Penny de los Santos images inspire and the article “Cassanova Nation” is no exception.
While listening to the Donovan Frankenreiter station on Pandora I stitched a few coasters for friends from a couple of the fabrics I picked up at Alewives Fabrics (thanks again SL for pointing me there).
Saturday night, still exhausted from getting back late Friday night and up early for the chickens, I stayed in and downloaded the medical comedy/drama “Emily Owens, M.D.” starring Mamie Gummer (Meryl Streep’s daughter). It’s really good. *I cannot stand ads so network television is pretty much out for me as it is (unless it’s football), thus I usually wait till midway through or the end of a season and download episodes onto my laptop. According to Wiki.answers: A typical 1 hour TV show has 16 minutes of commercials. No thanks!
Sunday I attended a signing with Blue Bottle Coffee Co.‘s James and Caitlin Freeman at Tandem Coffee Roasters for their new book The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee: Growing, Roasting, and Drinking, with Recipes. I picked up a copy there from Rabelais (a co-host of the event). *Check out the book trailer (video produced by White on Rice Couple) and take a glance at my first BBC experience.
The book is about coffee growing, roasting, drinking and the food that goes with it anytime of the day. A little something sweet to think about dear readers is the recipe for Saffron-Vanilla Snickerdoodles in the ever so perfectly titled chapter “Perfect for Dunking”… Okay, pause…the truth of it is I’ve never been a coffee dunker. Or a tea dunker or really any kind of dunker…nope, not even as a kid did I dunk Oreos into my milk. It’s never too late to try, right?? and maybe this will be it. Or maybe not, and I’ll just make these ever so soulful sounding cookies and munch on them between sips of coffee or tea.
James Freeman wrote this book for the kind and enthusiastic people who line up for his coffee. As someone who has and certainly remains enthusiastic about it, let me say thank you James for creating good coffee and now this book, which I look forward to reading so I may better understand coffee.
A fun bit on Wealthy apples from the CSA site: Cherry crab seedling. Excelsior, MN, 1868. One of the most famous of the hardy all-purpose varieties, Wealthy is also considered to be a standout among pie apples. If you want to try a single-variety crisp or pie this week, try one with Wealthy. At peak ripeness, the flavor is more sweet than tart, and the texture is soft without being mushy. Just before it’s ripe, the pie flavor tends to be slightly tart. Wealthy makes a tart, creamy sauce. It’s also a good acid source for fermented cider. Our old friend, long-time orchardist, 96-year-old Francis Fenton of Sandy River Orchards, believes Wealthy—not McIntosh—should be the favorite commercial apple of northern New England. The trees his father planted in Mercer 105 years ago are still going strong.