Category Archives: Education

Jam Out: A Conversation with Bonnie Shershow

Fruit preserves – the key is in the second word. For us New Englanders – slaves to the seasons – it’s an irresistible treat to get a taste of summer-ripened fruit on your plate in the middle of March. Even as the latest Nor’easter bears down upon us, let each bite remind you that though winter is here (and still coming, apparently) there is a drop of sunshine on the east coast that we can still enjoy – and it comes in different flavors.

Bonnie Shershow, the founder and owner of Bonnie’s Jams, was kind enough to speak to me about her product and how she got her start in the jam business. First of all, it was kind of an accident. How she tells it, Shershow got her start in jam making as her mothers helper, in their California home surrounded by berry bushes and fruit trees. Later in life, Shershow achieved a graduate degree from the Kennedy School at Harvard. She worked managing non-profits, political campaigns, and did marketing. Through it all, she made jam as a hobby, but she never thought it would become a career. Things clicked when Formaggio kitchen started carrying her jams 17 years ago – Shershow says, “At one point, I thought I should be paying them, it was such a thrill to see it on the shelf.”

A Question of pectin…

Many of Bonnie’s Jams have the telltale description “no pectin” on the label. I had no idea what pectin was, but I presumed it was some sort of negative additive. I referred myself to Google, and learned that it was a plant-derived substance with a variety of applications, both in food and medicine. Shershow informs me, “Pectin’s not bad for you – in fact, pectin can be good for you.”

So what’s all the fuss about pectin in jam? It boils down to this (pun intended) – sugar and water.

Let’s say you’re making jam in a pot with a bunch of fruit and sugar, and you add pectin. It is a thickening component – so the jam is ready in maybe a half hour. When Shershow makes her pots of jams, she cooks the fruit down for several hours, adds only a touch of sugar, and no pectin. This does a couple of things. In the first scenario, with the pectin, we had to add a lot of sugar (according to Shershow, some recipes call for a 1:1 ratio of sugar to fruit). The sugar is compensating for the water that is still in the jam – it’s helping it taste yummy. But if you let the jam thicken by cooking it down more, you’re removing the need for both a thickener and extra sugar to compensate for loss of flavor. You’re also subtracting the possibility that the pectin will change the actual flavor of the fruit preserve.

How can pectin change the flavor? Well, because pectin itself is made from fruit. It is found crabapples, citrus peels, and many other fruits. Hence why Shershow avoids using the derivative in most of her products – “I don’t like using it in berries or stone fruit jams. I want the flavor of that particular fruit to be pure; I don’t want it to have a citrus taste.”

On the flip side, Shershow tells me she uses pectin in her Red Pepper Jelly, a delightful product that we can barely keep in stock at AP. Pectin has a place in the Red Pepper Jelly – it’s a more liquid base, and it has vinegar as an ingredient. So, Shershow uses an orange peel based pectin that gels with the red pepper flavor. (Last pun, I promise.)

Finally, we get to the fun part. Shershow and I got to talk pairings, and she gave me some of her favorites. Cheese and meat may be the star of the show for snacking spreads – but accoutrements are the sidekicks that all superheroes need to shine. Jams have a way of elevating a cheese board – they bring taste, differentiating texture, and color to your appetizers. Keep scrolling for some visual inspiration for your next cheese board.

Nuts and honey & Chiriboga blue
The sweet, salty crunch of nuts & honey marries perfectly with a creamy blue. We love the rindless Chiriboga, a Bavarian blue so decadent it’s been made into ice cream. Fair warning – it’s addictive; this pairing should come with a waiver.

Strawberry Rhubarb & Lake’s Edge
If you’re after less of a punch and more of a delicate handshake, try this pairing on for size. Somewhere between creamy and fudgy, Lake’s Edge is an ash ripened goat cheese. Paired with Strawberry Rhubarb jam, it’s spring in a bite.

Peach Ginger & Twig Farm Goat Tomme
This pairing is a double whammy of tang, and I’m not talking chimpanzees. A snap of ginger and stone fruit with a crack of goat will have your palette on its toes.

Black and Blue & Marcel Petit Comte
Juicy berries with one of our favorite French alpine cheeses? Yes please! Kick up this pairing and make a warm tart with the black and blue and shave some Comte on top. Melty.

Fig preserves & literally any cheese
The best part about pairings is that it’s all up to you and your taste. We love Fig preserve with everything from our best selling Cabot Clothbound cheddar to taleggio. You can mix it in with some yogurt, or have it on a slice of toast with Ploughgate butter. Experiment. Find what you love. That’s what it’s all about.

All pictures and words by the author.

Shop Talk: Umami, chianti, and Matt, oh my!

When it comes to the products we sell at American Provisions, a lot of the things we love the most aren’t in the “basic needs” category. They’re the video vixens of the food world. Captivating and addicting. Equal parts wonderful and seductive, flavor rich, and unique. To us, there are certain picks that are so essential that we panic when they’re out of stock. They become the ones we call our ride-or-die products.

I posed the question to Matt Thayer, owner of American Provisions, a couple weeks ago. I asked him to give me his ten favorites, his ride-or-dies. Whittling down the many choices was both challenging and tendentious. Some, like Mazi Piri Piri sauce, were obvious. Others, like selecting one favorite wine out of our entire wall, were borderline formidable. This is the list Matt came up with, and his remarks. We also spoke about why he loves working in food, Southie, and the challenges of the food business.

Ploughgate butter

…is delicious. It’s not cheap, it’s 10 bucks for 8 oz of butter – but I think of it as like buying a hunk of cheese – I don’t cook eggs with that butter. I smear it all over bread or we melt it and dip artichokes in it. Just using it as like anything that is a perfect vehicle to just pour the butter into my mouth – as opposed to using it to cook.

Chianti Classico 2012 Castell’in Villa

That was one of the wineries I visited last spring, so I think that theres a personal connection to the wine which resonates with me. I had lunch with the winemaker. I think the first time I tasted it it was sort of an “aha” moment for Sangiovese grape. It made me think of chianti in a different way. It’s real kinda big and dank and earthy for a chianti. They can be a little bit lighter with high acidity and this is one that really made me see the aging potential of Sangiovese grape.

Mazi Piri Piri Sauce

Oh my gosh, this is like ketchup in my house. It goes on everything, from what you would think, like a taco or something like that – to eggs, meat, and more. Last year for the super bowl I did Mazi Piri Piri deep fried wings. That can never leave my fridge, that is very essential. I’ve turned a bunch of my people onto it too. In my neighborhood I have people over for dinner a lot and now they’re all hooked and make me bring them Piri Piri.

Would you say American Provisions today is accurate to your vision when you started the business? In what ways is it different or the same?

I think it’s something that we try really hard to be mindful of. So when we first opened we didn’t sell beer and wine although that was always part of the business plan. And we didn’t sell sandwiches. I had no interest in being a sandwich shop – we were a market, a neighborhood market, a cheese and meat shop.

We quickly transitioned into making sandwiches and that’s become a big revenue source for us, and also a place where we can put our labor. But it’s something that I try very hard not to have our identity become – being a sandwich shop.

As we open up a second location, it’s something again, were trying to be mindful of even though we’ll have a full kitchen and we’ll do sandwiches there, were trying to be a market, and have food as a place in the community. So it’s definitely something that we try and take a step back at times and see if we’re still following this mission and vision for American Provisions. So I do think that it is. And obviously we’ve evolved and our products have evolved which I think is a great thing, that’s not necessarily a bad thing at all. But I do think we’re sticking to our mission and vision.

Lesbos Feta from Essex St. Cheese co.

This feta is an addiction of mine. Most feta is commodity cheese – you can buy it already crumbled or it’s just a factory cheese that comes from cows milk that isn’t made by a cheesemaker and you can’t taste that it comes from an animal. Ours is 100% sheep and it’s an artisan cheese which most feta isn’t and you can really taste the difference. It’s grassy, it’s salty. I’m a salt freak, and it’s just the right amount of salt I think.

Early bird Crack of Dawn Breakfast Bar

These are a staple for me. It’s my breakfast every morning. It’s my coffee snack at 2 o’ clock every afternoon. I probably have – no hyperbole at all – 15 a week. When they briefly stopped making them, that was a crushing moment for us all.

Curio Supeq Spice – Spicy & Umami Salt

This is a more recent discovery. Curio spice are the type of products that we really like to sell here. She’s a local that who was in the restaurant industry and has bounced around various kitchens – she worked at Flatback coffee and Oleana and was really inspired to follow her passion. She travels and her instagram account is really cool to follow cause she’ll post from, like, Madagascar or somewhere. It’s a unique product, the umami salt. It’s not really overpowering. I use it as a finishing spice. It’s really good on eggs, chicken thighs, and rice. Pretty much everything.

How did you land on Southie as a place to start the business?

Andy and I met bartending in South Boston. We both worked here for a long time. My wife and I lived here for awhile. We had a connection to it. And from a pure business standpoint it felt like there was a need and it fit with what we were trying to do.

How do the challenges of six years ago when you were first starting compare to now?

It was a lot of work to open. At the time it didn’t feel hard. It was different challenges. When we first opened, we honestly talked about, “do you think we’ll need to hire anybody else or can we just do this ourselves?” And then we were busy the first week we opened –not busy like what we know today but we were lucky enough to have people walk through the door. It was just a lot of work, definitely, being a young father at the time and my kid was really young and my wife worked full time. It was hard from a time perspective. It was just different work. We’ve been lucky enough to have some success and we’ve been lucky enough to hire some great people. Now, it’s managing people as opposed to managing ourselves for 15 hours a day.

Crunch Dynasty – Exotic Hot Topping

So this is something I use when I have a meal that is super lame and I don’t have the energy to do anything for it, I throw that on top and that excites the meal – whether it’s just noodles or salad. Just like lettuce with lots of oil and that. It’s really salty; it’s spicy but it’s not overly, ruin your day spicy. At first you don’t even notice the heat then it kind of grows on you. Texturally it’s good too, a key ingredient in there is fried shallots, which to me is like- gimme fried shallots with anything. It really jazzes food up.

Les Moulins Mahjoub M’hamsa Couscous

We’ve sold this product for a long time – I also really like the Les Moulins Mahjoub harissa and the combo of the two of them are really good. I was shocked – often couscous doesn’t have shit for flavoring and so, just cooking that no broth not even salting the water, nothing – just cook it like pasta – and it’s super flavorful and it’s salty and kinda olive oil-y. Textural-ly, it doesn’t get mushy, It holds it’s form, I think because it’s sun dried.

Ortiz Anchovies in Olive Oil

That is an incredibly important staple ingredient in my cupboard. In fact it doesn’t even make it to my cupboard now – it sits on my counter. I have a bowl of kosher salt for cooking, pepper grinder, a couple different olive oils and often the anchovies sit right there. It’s more of an ingredient – it can be eaten by itself or just chopped up and thrown in a salad. But it goes when I’m rendering things. Or just sautéing onions and garlic. Or marinating meat – it goes REALLY really great with lamb or beef. It gives it an earthy richness and when you’re cooking it with other ingredients it doesn’t taste real fishy or anything, it’s just giving you that real umami-ness. It’s sort of like when you cook with fish sauce, and you’re like, “what is that flavor that I’m tasting?” It doesn’t necessarily taste fishy but it gives a depth of flavor.

Nella’s brussel sprout ravioli

I don’t eat it as much now that I don’t close, but when I used to close here – so for the first three years we were open – that was a product I would bring home and eat. It was my lazy dinner meal. It would just be that and good olive oil, salt and pepper, and freshly grated parmesan cheese. It was the type of thing where I would love it when my wife would say “we don’t have anything, bring something to eat home,” and I would know that was a Nella’s night.

What’s your favorite part of owning the shop?

I really love food. That’s something that’s super important to me and thats part of why I opened this store. I think it’s also the store’s place in the community. We intentionally opened in this community. We’re opening a second location, we intentionally are opening in Dorchester and were looking for a long time, years, before settling on that space. We looked at a lot of different places. One thing that we knew was we wanted it to be a place that people could feel a sense of community. I think food is really neat that it does that, whether it’s coming into a neighborhood market or a coffee shop you love or sitting around your dining room table and sharing a potluck. I think food is beautiful in that sense and that is what I love about our place in this community and how we’re approaching the intentionality of opening our second location.

All photos taken by Hillary Anderson.

Cheesemongers: a Day in the Ripe

Maura: Grocery

Expertise: resident sweet tooth, all things preserves, heart of soft cheese

You’ve been here longer than the rest of us – why do you continue to love working at AP?
When I first started here, I knew nothing about cheese, wine, or anything. I’ve learned so much and I keep working here because of the people. Matt and Andy, who are the owners of course- working for decent people makes the difference.
We may just be just a grocery store selling expensive foods, but when you’re able to meet the person milking the cows, or harvesting the vegetables, or spending hours hand-packaging preserves or chocolates, you feel good about the things you’re selling. At the end of the day, we’re a community shop; we know our customers and we know the people who craft our products.

What cheese doesn’t get enough love and you think is people should try?
I love all the mystic cheeses, I’m obsessed with them and their story. Also Humble Pie from Woodcock farm – it’s a great cheese and not one people necessarily go straight for.

Jen: Stock & Monger

Expertise: stocking, stocking, stocking; once cleaned the compost bin when no one else wanted to and for that we owe her everything

Can you tell me a bit on what you know about vegetarian cheeses at the shop?
A lot of the soft cheese in the fridge is vegetarian – the Vermont Creamery cheeses, as well as Champlain Valley’s triple cream, and the Vermont Farmstead Lille Bebe. Rennet is the ingredient that puts many cheeses off the menu for vegetarians as it is an animal by-product. The main purpose of the rennet is to stabilize the texture, so you definitely find it in nearly all harder cheeses, but not necessarily all softer cheeses. A lot of vegetarians love cheese, but don’t always eat it because of the rennet, which means they miss out on some great stuff! However, it’s not just vegetarians, some rennet is also derived from pork, making it not kosher. So, I find it very heartening to see that a lot of cheesemakers are looking to other enzymes to stabilize their cheeses, making them more accessible to people with differing dietary preferences/needs.

Do you think shopping at small businesses is a form of activism?
It’s form of community building, which is essential. I love the fact that this small, local business movement has started mainly with food but I’m hoping it will expand to include other goods and services that will provide necessary things to the communities being served. People who want to open their own businesses should definitely do it, but I’d like to see them look to the community’s needs first.

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Caley: Beer & Wine

Expertise: all the hops, all the beers, all the wines, all the grapes

What’s the cheese question you get asked most?
People always ask for sharp cheese but I don’t think they necessarily know what they’re asking for.

Can you speak on how seasonality plays into what we do at AP?
Historically, seasonality used to be more important, because people were cooking and eating the foods that were available at certain times of the year. Nowadays this doesn’t have to be the case, but at AP we think that eating seasonally brings us all closer to nature and to knowing where your food is coming from.

What’s your favorite season and food pairing?
Honestly, I am not great at following seasonal rules. I will drink tart goses and sours in the winter and Belgian strong ales in the summer, which isn’t something I’d necessarily recommend! That being said, drinking dark ales by a fire while it snows outside is pretty awesome. And despite it being somewhat overwhelming, the arrival of rose season in the spring is always exciting.

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Ali: Meat & Coffee

Expertise: charcuterie, inventor of “the Ali” which is just four shots of espresso in a cup and you chug it

How did you get into drinking coffee?
I never used to drink coffee- then I started telemarketing and they told me I had to do something to get my energy up.

Can you recommend an interesting bean?
The Barrington Italian roast – I don’t like dark roast but this one is so dark it’s worth drinking. It’s unique and very, very rich.

Favorite cheese/charcuturie pairing?
I like speck – a smoky, prosciutto style meat. You could try pairing it with Jasper Hill’s Oma, which is a stinky soft cheese. Or if you prefer salami, try it with Calabrese, it’s got a mild spice.

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Hillary: Cheese & Blog

Expertise: pickle taste tester, carb queen, cheese boards

What is the benefit of raw cheese vs not raw?
Raw cheese is made from unpasteurized milk. It doesn’t go through the heating process that may kill harmful bacteria which is the reason some people (like pregnant women) may go for only pasteurized cheeses. However, the bacteria present in raw milk is not all bad. Like eating cultured butter, yogurt, or even drinking kombucha – these cultures can actually bring the product to life. They give it a range and depth of flavor that is fairly unique to raw cheese. Basically, it tastes really good.

What would you say to someone who is intimidated by approaching a cheese counter?
Cheesemongers are always tasting, always learning. There’s very little you could ask that would seem stupid, because we’ve all asked the same questions before. The first step is to tell us anything about what you want in a cheese and we can help! If you don’t know what you want, ask us for a taste of what we like- and if you don’t like that tell us what you don’t like about it. Our goal is for you to be as excited about the cheese you are getting as we are about giving it to you.

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Nadia: Pasta & Frozen

Expertise: pickle b*tch, queen mother of snacks, prepared foods whiz

What’s your ride or die snack?
Grape leaves always – actually I almost upped the order this week just to compensate for the rate at which I eat them.

Same question but cheese.
Stilton aka Stilty – because it’s perfect in every way. I can also get down with some Willoughby. It changes – it’depends what’s in the case and what’s ripe – I wanna eat cheese when it’s best.

So after two years you’re leaving us – can you summarize what this job taught you?
This job has taught me a little bit of everything. I had to learn about beer, cheese, meat, coffee, olive oil, how things are made.
Getting to talk to people who grow things that we buy in the summer was a great experience- Blue Heron and the Urban Farming Institute. It’s amazing to talk to people who are passionate about food.

All photos taken by Hillary Anderson.

A Wrinkle in Cheese

Have you ever gone up to a cheese counter, picked up a hunk of cheese, and asked the cheesemonger there “What is this cheese like?” Their responses try to tell you something about the qualities of the cheese – the taste, texture, type of milk – there’s common words and truths about taste that we rely on to describe cheeses. Words that most people can identify in their mind as a particular taste, and they know whether or not they like that familiar descriptor. Of course, the type of milk – cow, goat, or sheep – is a constant. Words like nutty or sharp have a distinct taste – they seem to be divergent. However, a cheese can be both nutty and sharp at the same time. It’s a peculiar paradox.

In Madeleine L’engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, the characters end up on a planet of beasts with no eyes. They’re gray furry blobs that communicate by thoughts and feelings – they don’t have the sense of seeing. The main character Meg tries to explain things like light or sight to the creatures, and putting these concepts into words eludes her.

Essentially, all cheese has the same basic starting points. Milk. Starter cultures. This is how yogurt is made, and ricotta, and mozzarella and aged cheeses take their first steps with these ingredients. It is how they are aged, in what kind of molds, as well as the starting point of the milk, that begins to diversify the flavors and bring about aspects of different cheeses.

It really is remarkable how wide-reaching and completely different cheeses can be with the same basic starting ingredients. These variances are owed mainly to terroir – a term used to attribute a cheese’s unique flavor profile to the environment in which the animal producing the milk feeds. The environment and what they are eating translates to the milk, which translates to the cheese.

So herein lies the difficulty of describing taste. We use specific words to describe them, but there is no one common perfected language used to describe each and every cheese. This in part is due to the fact that when you eat cheese it’s not only what you’re tasting that matters – it’s the way the cheese feels in your mouth. It’s how it interacts with what you’re drinking. For example, a chalky aged goat cheese tastes even better when it’s paired with a lightly sparkling white wine or a dry chardonnay. The wine brings out the richness and fruitiness in the cheese, so that it becomes an even better experience than enjoying just the wine or cheese alone.

So acknowledging all of that, where does that leave us? Terroir of cheese can tell us a lot – if the cheese is earthy, buttery – we know that the animal must’ve been eating something that lent it those aspects. But, as an animal is a living creature, it grazes and it goes to the next pasture and finds its next meal. So day to day, their milk is changing and those multitudes are going into the artisan cheese that you pick up and ask “What is this cheese like?” We can tell you – but the best thing to do, in my opinion, is to taste.

All photos taken by Hillary Anderson.

November Wine of the Month Club

With the holiday season upon us, we are leaning heavily on tried and true traditions for this wine box. For the complex meal that is the American Thanksgiving, it is a difficult task to match wine to each flavor and component…but we’re up to the challenge.

Starting with white, we’ve picked a classic Burgundian bottle, one that constantly challenges the preconceptions about Chardonnay, and continues to win itself adamant devotees. On the red side of things, whether you drink them with turkey or not, the cooler days in this month require bottles with depth and substance. A red Beaujolais for example, has enough tangy fruit to match any gravy, and at the Cru level, it is serious enough for chilly November evenings. The last red you’ll find doesn’t follow any wine handbook for this time of year, but we think its unique flavors and sultry body will make it your new holiday favorite!

Domaine Arnaud Chopin Cotes de Nuits Villages Blanc Les Monts de Boncourt 2008With the esteemed name of Arnaud Chopin and the noted tradition of white Burgundy as a perfect choice for the Thanksgiving holiday, we think we’ve found you a pretty killer bottle of wine. Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, for whom the domaine is named, Arnaud Chopin has gained a respectable reputation for crafting classically elegant Burgundian wines on his family’s small estate. This 2008 Les Monts de Boncourt is entirely barrel-aged in new oak, but instead of dominating the wine like those California oak bombs most people think of when they hear Chardonnay, the oak aging here merely enhances the fruit concentration. Elegant and complex, this wine shows an impressive amount of freshness and acidity on the palate, which elevate the simple notes of toast and citrus.

Domaine de Colette Moulin-à-vent Vieilles Vignes 2012We thought it was appropriate for a traditional white Burgundy to be followed by a traditional red Burgundy. Instead of the famed Pinot Noir of this area, we choose a bottle from the region to the south of Burgundy: Beaujolais, in which the variety Gamay reigns supreme. This Cru bottle of Gamay comes from Moulin A Vent, one of the ten villages in which Cru Beaujolais can be made. Domaine de Colette is home to Jacky and Eveylne Gauthier who live in Lantignie, but own small vineyard plots in four of the ten villages. Jacky Gauthier is a 4th generation winemaker who started his career in viticulture at age 17. The Gauthier couple care greatly about the ecosystem in which they grow their wines, which is why they use only sustainable practices for their vinegrowing. Showing as a great example of its prestigious terrior this 2012 bottle is silky smooth, but well built with ripe fruit aromas of dark berries, dried roses, and musky forest floor.

Leonardo Bussoletti Brecciaro 2014The last bottle in this wine box strays from our traditional French path over to central Italy, where the mystery grape variety Ciliegolo is being revived. At the front of this revival is Leonardo Bussoletti, the ambitious winemaker who took control of his family’s small vineyard in 2009, of which he devoted 70% to growing Ciliegolo. Mostly known as a blending variety in Chianti, Ciliegolo’s roots date back to the 1200’s in Umbria, yet little of it is still seen in these parts due to the difficulty and care it requires to properly grow. Leonardo brings a certain elegance to his wines; one that could be compared to that of Burgundy – a region of which he is fond of. Brecciaro has the tart, cherry nuances akin to the other Chianti varieties, but its dark, silky body carries an air of sophistication that delights and lingers.

Edible Gifts

The Gracious Gourmet Dried Fruit ChutneyBecause a November box just wouldn’t be complete without a turkey pairing–let us introduce you to the Gracious Gourmet’s Dried Fruit Chutney. These days Nancy Wekselbaum’s company makes a dozen or so beautiful jams and spreads, but the operation began in her kitchen as a vehicle for Nancy’s signature homemade chutney. Made with dried apricots, cherries, dates, and cranberries as well as a bevy of Indian spices, this classic has become a pantry staple for us. It’s a natural pairing with virtually any protein, but we’re partial to enjoying it with cheese as well (put a spoonful on a dollop of fresh goat cheese for a perfect appetizer). Whether you dish it up next to the bird or save it for dessert, we think your guests will thank you.

Cocoa Sante Mocha Hot CocoaFounded by two Massachusetts mothers, Cocoa Sante was born of the need for a wholesome sweet treat. Not wanting to fuel her kids with the processed ingredients in store-bought cocoas, owner Jen experimented until she struck gold with the Nor’Easter recipe–the classic cocoa we use here at AP. The beauty of all Cocoa Sante blends (in addition to their ethical sourcing and organic ingredients) is that they contain milk powder so you can simply use hot water and mix – no saucepan required. The Mocha blend we selected contains a blend of organic cocoa powder and 100% Arabica bean coffee for just enough giddy-up to get you up and out the door.

La Casera NerinaThis Thanksgiving (and everyday, really) we’re thankful for La Casera, the Italian cheese shop that’s responsible for the export of so many of our lovely Italian cheeses. Much like Boston’s own Formaggio Kitchen, truly the granddaddy of all American cheese shops, La Casera expanded the family business from merely a storefront, to a cheese aging and international shipping operation. Second generation owner Eros Buratti purchases cheeses directly from local Piedmontese farmers to age under close observation in their cellars until they reach optimum ripeness. These little guys may look a bit spooky, but we promise they’re anything but. Nerina (literally “little black one”) are dusted in edible vegetable ash before aging just two to three weeks, developing a distinctive geotrichum rind. Made from cow’s, goat’s, and sheep’s milk, Nerina’s flavors are creamy and tangy, with a fudgy texture, gooier at the rind. Decadent perfection with a smear of honey.

All photos taken by Caley Mahoney.

Call the store at (617) 269-6100, email us at info@americanprovisions.com, or ask a staffer for more information on signing yourself or someone you love up for the Beer or Wine of the Month Club! 

December Beer & Wine of the Month Boxes

Tis the Season, to drink and be merry. It is the holiday season, a time in which we come together with family and friends – to share, to indulge, and to celebrate everyone’s traditions. Traditions like Christmas are ones we have adopted from European origins, which is why we see fit to celebrate the holidays by recognizing some truly traditional beer styles from our comrades overseas. With hundreds of years of brewing excellence under their belts, Germany and Belgium are the quintessential countries to source beers that defy alteration by standing the test of time.

While keeping up traditions is important, the holidays are also filled with a plethora of the New and the Shiny. After paying homage to the foreign greats, we can’t help but exclaim excitement for the eye catchingly new bottles of beer from a distinctively unique American brewery. And because it’s almost Christmas, we have thrown in an extra beer in this month’s box! So get ready to deck the halls, to sip slowly from special selections, and to beer geek out with your shiny new bottles!

Libations

Mahr’s-Bräu Christmas BockTis the perfect season to enjoy this new offering from one of Germany’s oldest breweries: Mahr’s Bräu. Only a few hundred cases of this Christmas Bock were produced for the U.S., making it an exciting addition to this December box. Mahr’s Bräu is a family owned operation with roots in baroque Bamberg dating back to 1895. This brewery prides itself on producing  high quality beers in the traditional methods of which this area is known for. This Christmas Bock fulfills the historically expected qualities of German bocks with its intense malty characteristics, blended fruit flavors, and sweet caramel tones. An impressive balance of sweetness comes from the assertive hopping, which gives the beer a spicy herbal liveliness, as well as a slightly citrus, pepper finish .ABV {6%}

Rodenbach Vintage 2013From possibly the most well known Belgian brewery, Brouwerij Rodenbach, we have for you their Vintage 2013 – a Flanders red ale created by mixing the best of young and aged batches. Started by the four Rodenbach brothers in 1821, the Rodenbach Brewery has been thriving in the West Flanders province of Belgium for almost 200 years. Flanders red ales are distinguishable by their unique coloring and distinctive sour sweet flavoring. Creating a beer of this style is no easy feat, which is why we love to marvel at the consistently delicious vintages put out by Rodenbach. Vintage 2013 exceeds expectations with the perfect balance between the sweet notes of rich oak, cherry, and caramel that dance alongside acidic bites of balsamic vinegar and sour apple. ABV {7%}

Stillwater Contemporary Series Mono & SurroundFresh out of a new line of beers called the Contemporary Series, the last two beers in this box fall into the shiny and exciting part of the holidays. Maryland based brewery Stillwater Artisan Ales are known for their  line of unique Belgian style ales decorated in macabrely beautiful illustrations that are meant to enhance the entire experience and inspire contemplation. With the Contemporary Series, Stillwater has changed the mold again by introducing their own aesthetic into the modern brewing culture. Mono, a Galaxy Dry Hopped Pilsner, is created with a method that is seen widely in the beer market nowadays , but infrequent from the Stillwater cellars: single hop brewing. Having said that, this brightly bitter pilsner is also hopped with Centennial and Sterling which help to enhance the Galaxy’s clean notes of tangerine rind and fresh grass. Surround, an Imperial Oak Smoked Wheat Stout, does as it’s name implies and engulfs your taste buds with flavors of smoky meat, dark chocolate, and earthy tang. ABV {5.2%} ABV {10%}

Vino

To celebrate the holidays we have chosen an extremely limited bottle of sparkling wine that was created by immense passion and devotion. The white wine in this box is not just a pretty package (although it is), but a specially selected bottle on the list of one of the best wine importers in the world. And finally, not to be overlooked is the elegant bottle of red Sardinian wine. Made by two wise Sardinia locals, we are sure that this wine will fill your hearts with warmth and happiness during this joyful time of year.

Buronfosse La Mouscaille Brut RoséThe first bottle in this December wine box is meant to be shared with loved ones; a celebration of family, dedication, and a fierce love of the land – all factors that played a part into creating this bottle of Brut Rosé! From the small town of La Combe in the Jura region of France, Peggy and Jean-Pascal and their three children live off the land as much as possible. Beyond making their livelihood as vignerons, the Buronfosse family raise their own animals and grow their own produce. Not expecting to become a well known winemaker, Peggy stumbled into the revered occupation out of necessity. She slowly became more involved as she began renting small amounts of land to experiment with, until finally taking over her own vineyard and producing her first vintagein 2001. This 2014 vintage “La Mouscaille” Brut Rosé is dry, but lively with delicate fruit flavor from the Pinot Noir grapes.

Von Winning “Winnings”  Riesling 2014The gorgeous star speckled bottle of Riesling in the December box is the 2014 vintage from Von Winning winery in the Pfalz region of Germany. Historically known for producing unique, elegant wines, the Von Winning was founded in a joint estate in 1849. In the modern wine world, Von Winnings is quickly gaining recognition, mostly due to the obsessively attentive workings of winemaker Stefan Attman, who joined the production in 2008. The pristine soil and climate of this tediously cared for vineyard produces incredibly high quality grapes. Enter the biodynamic principles and minimalist approach of Attman and it’s no wonder the Von Winning wines are praised for a distinctively indigenous quality. For the 2014 vintage, the Riesling grapes give the wine it’s lovely notes of honey, apple, pear, and tangy pineapple. Wonderfully balanced between dry and sweet, this almost effervescent bottle is beautiful and refreshing.

Cantina Lilliu Cannonau di Sardegna Presciu 2014The last bottle in our December wine box is meant to be gift not only for your taste buds, but for your heart as well. The locals on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia have been known to live well past 90 years old, possibly due to the antioxidant rich compounds found in the indigenous varieties of wine they drink. Husband and wife Pietro and Roberta, both born and raised on the island, strongly believe and defend the immense wealth of the Sardinian land. The philosophies and goals behind their winemaking include a harmonious approach to the earth in order to yield the most natural and best quality grapes possible, while still giving back to their environment. Presciu 2014 is made from a blend of Cannonau de Sardegna (the local name for Grenache), Bovale, and Syrah. This stunning bottle of red wine oozes of plush red fruit and tender spice. Drink to your health and drink up!

Presents

Antica Torroneria Piemontese Soft Nougat with CherryThis time of year we indulge in sweets and treats that we normally wouldn’t..and if you’re going to indulge yourself, what better than with authentic nougat from Italy? This Torrone Morbido Con Ciliegie (soft nougat with cherries) is made with only the best ingredients, specifically Piemontese hazelnuts by the Sebaste family. Started in 1885 by Giuseppe Sebaste, Antica Torroneria Piemontese is currently run by the fourth generation with the same amount of passion for the craft and appreciation for the fruits of the land. Chewy and soft, this decadent nougat is gluten free, made from only honey, sugar, and egg whites.


 

La Casera Robiola di Capra di FicoGet ready to open presents with this little gift of cheese in this December box. This Robiola di Capra is literally wrapped like a present in the fig leaves that help it ripen for 15 days. Made with only goat’s milk from small farms in the Piedmont region, this soft ripened beauty is a classic example of the traditional Italian excellence bursting out of the family owned La Casera company that has been based in Verbania for several generations. The fig leaves packaging of this Robiola imparts a slightly vegetal taste into its fudgy white paste.

Ames Farm Honey BuckwheatIn an effort to spoil you this club box, we have added an extra item to our regular snacks! In mini form, your first stocking stuffer is a teeny jar of Buckwheat honey from Ames Farm Honey in Minnesota. Despite its size, this jar holds a whole lot of flavor – notes of dark brown sugar, cherry, plum, and even tobacco! Ames Farm harvests their honey from Carniolan bees, a Slovenian variety of bees that are well suited to the Minnesota climate. These bees are known for their gentle nature and superior sense of orientation, and of course for producing delicious single source honey perfect to drizzle on soft goat or blue cheeses!

Quince & Apple’s Pear with Honey & GingerStocking stuffer #2 is also a Midwest product – made by small batch production Quince & Apple out of Madison, Wisconsin. Owners Matt & Clare pride themselves on crafting preserves from locally and organically produced ingredients. As these jams are made in Wisconsin, one could rightfully assume that they pair well with cheeses! This bitty jar of Pear with Honey & Ginger is a delightful sampling of a sweet and tangy jam begging to top an oozey bloomy rind or fresh goat cheese like the one in this box!

Butternut Squash & Poblano Pepper Chili

butternutblog7The recent cold snap has put us here at AP in the mood for some delicious comfort food. I decided to take some of the latest local offerings from Enterprise Farm out of western Massachusetts to put together a hearty chili to warm up from the inside out. Beautiful poblano peppers and seasonal butternut squash are the stars of this cozy dish.

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For the chili:

2 tbsp olive or coconut oil
1 whole red onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic
3 large poblano peppers
1 large butternut squash
5 stalks celery
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 lb ground beef *
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon

 

on top:

sour cream or crème fraiche
sliced avocado
l’amuse signature gouda
salt, to taste
lime juice, to taste

 

1. Roast the poblano peppers in the oven at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes until the skin is just starting to look blistered. Peel and cube the butternut squash into ½ inch pieces while they’re cooking.

2. De-seed the poblano peppers and chop roughly into ½ inch pieces. Chop stalks of celery.

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3. Chop the onion and garlic. Throw onion into a large pot with your oil on medium heat. Stir every couple of minutes, waiting until fragrant, about 5-10 minutes. Add in the butternut squash and poblano peppers. Stir. Add in the celery.

4. Let everything cook on medium high heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ground beef and brown in the pot for a couple of minutes.

5. Add the can of tomatoes, black beans, and tomato paste. Season with chili powder and cinnamon. Stir, cover and cook on medium low heat for 15-20 minutes.

6. After the chili cools, top with lime juice, sour cream, sliced avocado, salt, and for extra brownie points shred a little (or a lot) of l’amuse gouda on top!

* if you are a vegetarian or don’t want beef, another can of black beans works just as well in its place.

Enjoy!

butternutblog

September Box Club: Beer & Wine

The treasures you see before you are the result of an epic journey. Our journey to acquire the elusive royalty of Vermont made products. The beers in this box have earned world class ratings from those who have been lucky enough to try them. They are outstanding examples of their styles, as well as some of the best beers that the Green Mountain state has to offer. The hype and excitement displayed at a name drop of these breweries is enough to make anyone curious, but it isn’t until you experience the Vermont beer scene that you can really understand…

Until you wait in lines behind fellow travelers with large bags being filled with growlers; until you drive a few hundred miles across the state, hopping in and out at each store to check their supply…you can’t understand. For those two days of our journey, we became part of the devoted. We traveled far and waited patiently for these elusive gems. The Vermont beers and products in this box are a result of fierce devotion — the obvious devotion displayed by their fans, but more importantly, the devotion of their makers. It is their commitment to making local, stand out products, and their love of the craft that makes this Vermont box so incredibly amazing.

Some of Vermont’s Finest

The Alchemist Heady Topper Double IPA: Even John Kimmich, the co-owner and head brewer of The Alchemist, whose likeness is portrayed on the illustration on Heady Topper cans, could not have predicted the immensely positive reception of their double IPA by New Englanders. Heady Topper has been in incredibly high demand since it was first brewed back in 2003; this hop packed ale has a huge cult following, who luckily enough have a website completely devoted to tracking the beers’ whereabouts. Over 45,000 cans of Heady Topper are released to select stores and restaurants around Vermont and they usually sell out within a few hours. Heady Topper’s popularity can be attributed to the beers’ layers of complex hop flavors and aromas ranging from tropical orange to pine-y spice, but what really makes this beer a top tier beverage is the quality of execution – a factor that we have come to expect (and delight in) from Vermont breweries.

Lawson’s Finest Sip of Sunshine IPA: The only way we could follow a world class beer from Vermont is with another world class beer from Vermont. Lucky for you, we were able to collect a few precious cans of Lawson’s Finest Sip of Sunshine IPA! This bright yellow tall boy is one of the many small batch brews that Lawson’s Finest cranks out at their microbrewery in Warren, VT. After one sip of this Sunshine IPA, the quality of this beer is undeniable. Pouring a hazy golden color with a short creamy head, Sip of Sunshine bursts with tropical fruit scents. Notes of fresh squeezed oranges, grapefruit pith, and mango fruit sweetness mingle with perfection among leafy hop bitterness and whispers of pine. The smooth, round body of Sip of Sunshine is so light and creamy, with almost a nitro like quality – making it seriously hard for the sipping to stop.

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Hill Farmstead Brewery ArthurOur last beer from our Vermont journey strays from the previous IPA styles, but it is in no way inferior in terms of quality or taste. From an equally revered Vermont brewery, we have for you – Arthur from Hill Farmstead. A true local resident of Vermont, Hill Farmstead Brewery sits on the land that belonged to the brewers’ grandfather and his 13 siblings. Following traditional methods and using locally sourced ingredients is incredibly important in the creation of Hill Farmstead beers. Arthur (the youngest brother of 13) is brewed with their distinctive farmhouse yeast, American malted barley, and water from their own well. Described by many as a meticulously excellent example of a saison, Arthur has a full doughy malt body with notes of  yeasty funk. The earthy malts are matched wonderfully by zesty lemon tartness , subtle grassy hops, and a clean, refreshing finish.

 

September Wines

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September is the border month between summer and fall. Lovely cool nights follow sporadically hot days as the weather awkwardly transitions. To help with the temperature confusion, we offer these bottles as a liquid transition. For these lingering hot days, we have a powerfully refreshing white wine that can stand up to the heat. As the nights get chilly and our palates become ready for something with a little more weight, you’ll need this full bodied red with some serious substance. And for the awkward in between days, find comfort in a gorgeous bottle of red wine, so light and lively it can even stand to be slightly chilled for those porch sipping times.

Château de l’Oiselinière de la Ramée Muscadet 2013Muscadet is the highest produced wine in the Loire Valley of France, with the Chéreau family being one of the most prominent names in its production. Today Château de l’Oiselinière is run by Bernard Chéreau, the son of  Monsieur Chéreau and Edmonde Carré, who combined their names at the start of their estate in 1960. Created by organic farming and indigenous yeast, this Muscadet is aged for 6 months on the lees. This process gives the wine its slight bubbly quality, which mingles perfectly with an abundance of acidity. Lively citrus flavors of grapefruit and lemon are balanced by white flowers and salty freshness in this high quality bottle.

Broc Cellars Love Red 2014A great transitional wine, Broc Cellars’ third release of Love Red is full of incredibly fresh juicy fruit. This sultry dressed bottle contains three grape varieties – the majority being Carignan, with a little of Valdique and Syrah. The belief at Broc Cellars is that minimal intervention is necessary for their wines to develop a specific character and complexity. For Love Red, malolactic fermentation was allowed to happen naturally, giving the wine a soft, round body. This softness however, is merely an understatement to the lively acidity and red fruit flavors of red berries and spicy anise. Enjoy this gorgeous bottle of wine at room temperature or slightly chill the bottle for a fun early fall drink!

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Chateau d’Archambeau Graves Bordeaux 2010This red will get you ready for the colder nights with this big bottle of Bordeaux. The Dubourdieu family have been running Chateau d’Archambeau in Graves for several generations. The Graves region of France is named such because of its gravel filled soils – a factor that gives the wines such strong minerality. An equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, this 2010 Bordeaux has a rich full taste, with plump roundness and soft tannins. Pair this Feminalise Gold medal winner with your first batch of roasted fall vegetables and a hearty protein.

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Snacks

For New England, September is a beautiful month in which to enjoy the pleasing temperature and changing landscape. We picked the state of Vermont as the quintessential New England representation,  mostly because of the scenery, but also because of the killer local products that the state produces. Many of the products at American Provisions are the result of a fierce passion and a love for locally made goods – several of which come to us from Vermont. The three snacks in this box are Vermont made, which could also be titled “Made with Love”.

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Big Picture Farm Cider Honey Caramels: Big Picture Farm is an insanely idyllic piece of paradise hidden away in the windy back roads of Townsend, VT. A true labor of love, the 87 acres of farmland making up Big Picture belong to two of the kindest, most creative, and inspiring people you will ever meet: Louisa Conrad and Lucas Farrell. For a little over five years, Louisa and Lucas have had a hand in every aspect of their business of creating goat’s milk caramels and cheeses. From personally herding, feeding, and caring for their 40+ goats, to designing each beautiful illustration on the caramel boxes, not to mention tackling everyday problems like jams in their rolling machine or plumbing issues from expanding construction that affect cheesemaking. These tedious issues don’t stop them from creating many many delicious goat caramel flavors, like the one in this box: Cider Honey, which is made with a local Vermont cider jelly and honey.

Poor Farm Collective Maple Syrup: Poor Farm Collective in Vershire, VT is, as their name implies, supported by a community of sugarmakers in the Vershire area. Poor Farm was started by Sam Kelman and Makenna Goodman with a mission of creating a local product with sustainable methods. Their syrup is made with wood-fired evaporators – an old fashioned and more traditional method than larger producers of syrup use. The magical time for syrup in Vermont happens mid March to April, when the sugarmakers bring life to the woods with their tractors and horses, ready to carry away gallons of freshly tapped sap. It took about 2.5 gallons of sap to make the one half pint bottle of distinctively tasty Vermont maple syrup in this box.

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Jasper Hill Cellars OmaOma, the washed rind, tomme style cheese in the boxes this month, is not only a personal favorite, but also a prime example of a Vermont made product. For over three generations the von Trapp farm has been a certified dairy farm and have more recently  become a cheese making operation in Waitsfield. Their fellow cheesemakers at Jasper Hill Farm, assist the production of Oma by housing many wheels of it in their cellars in Greensboro. In the specifically calibrated vault #6 of the Cellars at Jasper Hill, wheels of Oma slowly ripen into an earthy orange rind covering the pungent buttery paste full of rich flavors of roasted nuts and cured meat.

Call the store at (617) 269-6100, email us at info@americanprovisions.com, or ask a staffer for more information on signing yourself or someone you love up for the Beer or Wine of the Month Club!  

August Beer & Wine Club Boxes

We can’t face it — the inevitable countdown of summer days. We openly deny the drop in temperature signaling the inevitable approach of September. Our knowledge of New England unpredictability gives us hope for prolong summer temperatures, possibly till as late as October.. But the truth is, that we are approaching the end of the summer season – undeniable wisps of fall linger around the corner. We are having a hard time facing this truth, so we decided we aren’t going to. This box is going to be a firm plea to remain in summer – to hold out a little longer to this glorious season with it’s bright flavors, ripe fruits, and refreshing possibilities.

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These wines will help you do just that. Wines that scream fresh fruit flavors, tantalize with loads of acidity, and quench with refreshing palpability. There will be a white wine with a scary looking name you won’t want to pronounce, but once you taste it, you’ll be searching for this Spanish variety everywhere. A summer send off wouldn’t be complete without a rosé, so why not the nicest looking bottle we could find from the island of Corsica? And for the third bottle, we have found the most perfect summer red that you can even serve it chilled!

To prepare you with what lies ahead, we have created a beer box bursting with the full strength of summer. These beers will invigorate with tart liveliness, refresh with satisfying fruition, and awe as direct representations of nature. These bottles show a wide and impressive range of beer making techniques that are inspired by historical traditions, distinct beer styles, and even draw inspiration from the beauty of the earth itself. Use these beers to soak up as much summer as you can to keep for the months to come.

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Libations

Dr. Fritz Briem 1809 Berliner Weisse: We begin our ode to summer with an incredibly refreshing style of beer that has been enjoyed since the early 1600s. This bottle, was made specifically to be a recreation of the Berliner Weisses that existed in 1809, when French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and his troops drank them to celebrate their Prussian victory. Napoleon famously called it the “Champagne of the North”, speaking of the beer’s highly effervescent and spritzy qualities. 1809 Berliner Weisse was created by Dr. Fritz Briem at his experimental brewery in the Doemes Institute in Munich. The professor has created the ideal Berliner Weisse – a light wheaty ale that tingles the tongue with flavors of white grape and green apple. Traditionally, Berliner Weisses were served “mit Schuss” or with flavored fruit syrups like raspberry or woodruff to minimize the sourness, but we think 1809 is perfect, just as is. ABV {5%}

Enlightenment Ales VerdanceEnlightenment Ales is a truly unique Massachusetts brewery dedicated to crafting artisan ales that are interesting and inspired. This gorgeous bottle of Enlightenment’s Verdance was inspired by artist Liz Jacobs’s painting, which adorns the front label. Drawing inspiration from the beauty of New England’s forests, Enlightenment has crafted this rustic wheat saison to convey the “lushness of the natural world around us”. The use of wild yeast strains and bottle conditioning give Verdance a liveliness and complexity, which make this beer remarkable. Verdance pours a golden orange hue with a fluffy white head that emits scents of barnyard funk and wheat. The refreshing flavors of tart peach and spice are a beautiful reminder of the nature we are enjoying throughout the summer months. ABV {4.4%}

Allagash Brewing Cuvee d’IndustrialLast, but by no ways least, we proudly and eagerly present a specialty release from Allagash Brewing: Cuvée d’Industrial. Known for their production of traditional and creative Belgian style beers, Allagash Brewery started off as a one man operation in 1995. Cuvée d’Industrial is one of their specialty cage and corked bottles that are incredibly sought after in the New England beer scene. To make this beer, specific barrels ranging in age from 1 to 5 years, from their wild beer cellar were chosen to be blended together. The resulting blend is this wonderfully complex, funky tart beer you have before you. We urge you to breathe in the complex scents of stone fruits, apple cider, vanilla, and oak when opening the bottle. The silky smooth body of woodsy sour lemon and tropical fruits will fill your mouth with immense satisfaction and then slowly dissipate into a lingering fizz. ABV {7.5%}

Bodegas Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina 2014The first wine in our end of summer box is a variety that many are unfamiliar with, but is one that couldn’t be more perfect for hot weather sipping. From the Basque region of northern Spain comes this 2014 Txakolina from Bodegas Ameztoi. Pronounced “chock-oh-lEE-na”, this very traditional style of wine is known for being refreshing and invigorating. The Ameztoi family is one of the top producers in the province of Getaria and has been producing wine for seven generations. Their Txakolina is made from the indigenous grapes Hondarribi Zurri and Hondarribi Beltza, which create a mineral driven wine with fruit flavors of grapefruit and lemon lime. Txakolinas are bottled with a small amount of residual carbon, giving the wine its distinctive natural spritz. So don’t worry about pronouncing the grapes, pop up this delightful bottle and enjoy.

Close Signadore Patrimonio A Mandria Rosé 2014Now that the summer is ending, we don’t need to entice you with whimsical bottles of pink  wine. We believe you’re ready for this seriously elegant rosé from the gorgeous island of Corsica in the French riviera. Christophe Ferrandis’s estate Clos Signadore strongly focuses on organic viticulture and in portraying the unique terrior of Patrimonio. The mostly limestone soil of Patrimonio and stainless steel fermentation are both evident in the ample acidity of this rosé. A Mandria rosé is made from 50 year old vines of the indigenous grape Niellucio, a variety that is closely related to Sangiovese. It’s juicy strong body has enough character to pair with a nice dinner, while its savory notes of raspberries and rose petals will leave your taste buds satisfied.

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Château Tour Grise Chenin Noir 2013: Wanting to keep these wines as refreshing and summer-y as possible, we searched for a red wine that would stand up to the challenge. From Château Tour Grise in the Loire Valley of France, we bring you Phillippe Gourdon’s 2013 Chenin Noir. This gorgeous pale ruby wine is made as a red wine, despite it’s rosé appearance. It is made from the not well known variety Pineau d’Aunis, which used to be widely planted in the Loire region but has now almost completely disappeared. Phillip Gourdon farms his vineyard with bio dynamic practices, using only natural processes and yeasts in his winemaking. The Chenin Noir is a youthful, effervescent wine with textured flavors of blood orange, sour cherry, and pink pepper. Serve this bottle slightly chilled for a unique, perfectly summer appropriate experience.

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Snacks

Bonnie’s Jams Peach Pepper Jelly: The summer months yield bountiful amounts of ripe fruit that can fortunately be preserved in order to save the bounty and warmth of the season into the colder months. Bonnie Shershow yields this power of preservation with great care as well as wonderful creativity. A local maker in Cambridge, Bonnie has been making jams since she was a little girl who helped her mother pick fruit from around her home in Southern California. Her love for jams & preserves only grew as she traveled the world tasting different fruit concoctions from places like France, Peru, & even Shanghai! This Peach Pepper Jelly is a quintessential representation of summer with its simple juicy flavors of ripe peaches and hot habanero peppers. Spread this sweet and spicy treat on creamy cheeses or make it into a marinade for grilling!

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The Farm at Doe Run Batch #10: Much like with wine or beer, cheese has the unique ability to represent the land (and animals) it comes from. So to eat a cheese from a sustainable run farm and creamery in Pennsylvania, you are literally experiencing a taste of that place and the animals that graze upon it. For Batch #10 washed rind cheese, that place is Farm at Doe Run in Coatesville, PA. The hard working crew at Doe run strives to produce the highest quality cheeses they can from their herds of pasture raised cows, goats, and sheep. They also have a little fun with a limited, specialty batch of cheeses called the Creamery Collection series. The cheese you have before you is Batch #10, a goat’s milk wheel that was washed in a local rhubarb spirit, the latest batch in this series. The earthy brightness of the goat’s milk contrasts beautifully with it’s boldly fruity rind.

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Olympic Provisions Loukanika: As often as we praise local products, we know how to recognize great makers, which is why we order many of our charcuterie items from Olympic Provisions (very recently Olympia Provisions) in Portland, Oregon. Olympic Provisions specializes in authentic hand made charcuterie, using old world techniques that are seldom seen in the states. Their Salumist, Eli Cairo, a first generation Greek-American, used his father’s recipe to create this Loukanika salami as a homage to his homeland. A Greek style dry cured meat, Loukanika, is a pork base made with earthy garlic, nutty cumin, and sweet and sour orange zest.

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Call the store at (617) 269-6100, email us at info@americanprovisions.com, or ask a staffer for more information on signing yourself or someone you love up for the Beer or Wine of the Month Club! 

 

July Beer & Wine Box Club

Getting outside is a mutual goal for all of us during the summer months. The good weather begs us to be in it and it is during these months that we are forced to appreciate our surroundings. We feel closer to nature as we walk and run in it, breath it in, and soak it up. This month’s boxes are a tribute to nature and to the remarkable benefits we reap from it. Nature gives us the raw materials we need in order to make the bottles in this box, but it also provides us with living tools like bacteria and yeast that in turn can be skillfully manipulated into unique and natural wines and beers.

Yeast is one of the four ingredients necessary to make beer, but not all yeast is the same. Wild yeast strains are unpredictable, mysterious, and hard to control. Skilled brewers have learned to tame, or perhaps, assist these wild yeast strains into a somewhat controlled brewing process. The unpredictability of wild yeast is what makes these beers so unique and sometimes not for everyone. But for the adventurous drinker, a well brewed beer with wild yeast can be an exciting adventure for the taste buds, as well as a fascinating representation of the nature that helped create that beer.

The Libations

Picobrouwerij Alvinne Cuvee Freddy – Special Dedication to SofieIn our opinion, Belgian breweries take the cake when it comes to sour beers. The daunting process of creating sour beers requires the use of microorganisms that other brewers avoid completely – wild yeasts like Brettanomyces and lactic acid bacteria. These microorganisms make for a very un-traditional brewing yeast with a high risk for producing unappealing flavors, which is why a correctly brewed  Belgian sour can truly be a magical marriage of natural ingredients and human ingenuity. All of these unpredictable and living ingredients have taken a part in the creation of this Belgian sour, Cuvee Freddy – Special Edition Dedicated to Sofie. This Flanders red ale from Picobrouwerij Alvinne is a strange, yet pleasing mix of flavors. Tart, sour notes of cherries and grapes meet your tongue first, followed by funky layers of oak and chocolate. ABV {8%}

Mikkeller It’s Alive: Gypsy Danish brewer Mikkeller is known for their risk taking and out of the norm style of brewing. Which is why a Belgian style beer brewed with wild yeasts is no surprise coming from Mikkeller. But that doesn’t stop us from being excited about this colorful bottle of It’s Alive! Brewed as a tribute to the popular trappist beer Orval, Mikkeller’s wild ale is a strong pale ale with a considerable amount of hops. The use of Brettanomyces as a wild yeast is not as obvious until the end of a sip, whereas flavors of caramel malts and funky esters are more predominant. Not as sour as one would expect a wild ale to be, It’s Alive proves its name by tingling the tongue with consistent carbonation and tantalizing flavors of ripe fruit, pepper, and lemongrass. ABV {8%}

The Wild Beer Co Iduna Cru: This last bottle is definitely a beer, although you might want to take the brewery’s suggestion and serve Iduna Cru in a champagne glass in order to accommodate the tremendous amount of bubbles you are about to let loose. The Wild Beer Co. is an English brewery that believes brewing should not be restricted to rules or styles, instead driven by passion and creativity. Iduna Cru is definitely a result of their creativity – a Belgian style saison that has been brewed with a hefty amount of New Zealand hops, Somerset apple juice, and wild yeasts. Named after a Greek goddess of beer, Iduna Cru goes through a secondary fermentation with the addition of champagne yeast. This additional process creates a light bodied beer with infectious carbonation, funky notes of wheat, apple, and spicy fruit with a long dry finish. ABV {9%}

The process of natural winemaking is literally just that: a natural occurring fermentation from the indigenous yeast found on the grapes, as opposed to a controlled introduced yeast. These wines are made without intervention and with minimal additives. Natural wine also means that the vines have been cultivated organically or biodynamically, which as a process can result in lower yields for wineries, but with the reward of extremely high quality. The wines in this box meet all of these standards, yet they are more than just a process, they are a true expression of the nature they were created from.

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Domaine Laurent Barth Muscat 2013: When it comes to natural winemaking, Laurent Barth is not only an advocate, but an extremely skilled practitioner of the process. An avid traveling winemaker, Laurent finally took over his father’s estate in a very old village in Alsace, France. His approach to vinification is as natural as possible, because although the process may result in imperfections, he believes that they are part of the wine’s identity and that it is the only way to respect the grapes and the land from which they come. The grape in this wine is Muscat, specifically a blend of Muscat a Petits Grains and Muscat Ottornel. Notes of honeysuckle will greet your nose upon opening this bottle. This wine flows heavy and viscous on the first sip with juicy white grape flavors, as well as notes of tangy stonefruit. The soft full quality of the Muscat is finished by a tart tingle of racy acidity.

Domaine Montbarbon Viré-Clessé Les 3 Terriors 2013: The Viré-Clessé Les 3 Terriors from Domaine Montbarbon is an excellent example of natural wine from an area that is world renowned for its high quality of expressive Chardonnays. The indication of “three terriors” on this bottle refers to the three appellations that provided the grapes which were blended to create this cuvée. The efforts of Jacky and Martine Montbarbon are evident in the creamy fullness and depth of this wine, which can be attributed to their use of bâtonage. The bâtonage process is a labor intensive one that involves stirring the lees (residual yeast) at the bottom of the tanks, once a week for over a year. This tedious, yet traditional method gives the wine its intense complexity – with layers of yeasty, woody aromas and round acidity complemented by flavors of white flower and yellow fruits.

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La Stoppa Trebbiolo Rosso: For the final wine in this box we wanted to find a naturally made red wine that had as much vibrancy and life as the whites beside it. Thankfully the dedication and passion of Elena Pantaleoni and Giulio Armani have created La Stoppa, a winery in NW Emilia-Romagna that focuses on organic farming and traditional methods. From La Stoppa we have found Trebbiolo Rosso, a blend of Barbera and Bonarda, two excellent Italian varieties. Fermentation takes places in only stainless steel after a 20 day period of maceration with indigenous yeasts that give this wine its wild and earthy aromas. Notes of blackberries, sweet leather, and meaty spice are on the forefront of this youthful bottle. The dry palate and refreshing acidity is begging to be paired with dried cured hams and salty cheeses.

The Snacks

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Bee Local Oregon Buckwheat: For this box we needed to find a product that could match the level of purity and natural goodness of the wines we picked. We believe we found that product with this Buckwheat honey from Bee Local. Bee Local was founded in Portland, Oregon in 2011, by Damian Magista, who wanted to contribute to our country’s honey production by sourcing the most sustainable and healthy honey possible. A pure creation of nature, this Oregon honey is comparable to Manuka honey because of its incredible medicinal qualities from its high levels of vitamins and minerals. Dark and smoky in appearance and taste, this raw Buckwheat honey is a perfect pairing for mild cheeses or as a base for a savory sauce.

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Nathan Miller Salt & Wafer: Natural, sustainably sourced ingredients play a huge part in the creation of the Nathan Miller chocolate bar in this box. Nathan Miller, a well known pastry and dessert chef, started his chocolate company in 2010, using only Fair Trade, organic, great quality cocoa beans from small farms. His extensive culinary experience has allowed him to create chocolate bars that test the imagination and please the taste buds.The Salt & Wafer bar is 45% buttermilk chocolate made with a crispy wafer and Himalayan pink salt, which give the bar a tangy and salty flavor. The cocoa beans for this bar are from Oko Caribe, as small co-op in the Dominican Republic and the paper the bar is wrapped in was handmade in Nepal. 

Meadowood Farms Strawbridge: From a farm older than a 100 years, comes this natural bloomy rind sheep’s milk cheese called Strawbridge. Meadowood Farms in Madison County, NY is incredibly focused on sustainability. When it comes to their herd of Galloway cattle and flock of East Friesian sheep, the Chard Family maintains a high level of care and commitment, via controlled mowing and a strict non use of pesticides on their 225 acres of land. The sheep whose milk you will be enjoying in cheese form, lazily graze on lush fields of of orchard grass, rye, and clover. The vibrancy of the land at Meadowood Farms comes through in the fresh and herbal flavors of Strawbridge. The natural formed bloomy rind gives this cheese its amazing buttery, gooey texture – perfect for spreading on crispy baguettes.

Call the store at (617) 269-6100, email us at info@americanprovisions.com, or ask a staffer for more information on signing yourself or someone you love up for the Beer or Wine of the Month Club! 

June Wine of the Month Club

The Heat is here. Finally after so many months of cold, we have begun our forceful journey into the arms of Summer. Raw hot sun beats down on our greedy faces as we all flock to any outdoor activity we can think of. Grills have become our go-to cooking method, as eating inside becomes unnecessary. Inspired by the heat, we have decided to fill this box with a symbolic essence of summer: smoke. Each snack in this box will present this essence in very different ways; be it in form of ground spices, preserved fruits, or a block of cheese.

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Instead of being inspired by the season, the wines this month are driven by a sense of place. Each of these wines truly express the terrior in which they are grown, as well as beautifully displaying the masterful techniques required to make them. Made with authentic methods and paying homage to the traditions of the regions, all three wines are incredibly unique. From Oregon, with German inspiration, we have a bright and fruity bottle full of zest; from the Abruzzo coast comes a bottle as full and intriguingly golden as the sun; and finally from the slopes of a Sicilian paradise, comes a fiercely fresh red born out of the vines surrounding a volcano.

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The Libations

Teutonic Wine Company Willamette Valley White 2014: Olga and Barnaby Tuttel, of Teutonic Wine Company, continue to impress us with each new bottle we sample. Which is why this will be the third bottle from Teutonic that we picked for our wine of the month boxes. Hopefully our obvious devotion to this small company from Oregon will assure you of the quality of this Willamette Valley White wine; although if we can’t convince you, we are confident this bottle will. From a company whose beginning was inspired by German wines, old world methods, and a strong desire to express terroir – you have here a bottle of wine that meets all of these factors. This 2014 white blend is made from three grape varieties: Pinot Noir,  Müller-Thurgau, and Chasselas. The later two grapes provide this wine with beautiful aromas of lemon lime zest, candied fruit, and bright citrus. Round and so supple, this wine softly hugs your taste buds with juicy apple flavors, as well as intriguing notes of earth and funk.

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Tenuta Terraviva Solobianco 2014Tenuta Terraviva translates from Italian to “living earth”; an exceedingly appropriate name for the organic winery started by two friends, Pietro Topi and Martino Taraschi. The gorgeous earth beneath the estate is found in the Teramo region of Abruzzo, less than a mile away from the Adriatic Sea. Pietro and Martino recognized the potential of this land to produce incredible, quality wines that represented the region’s traditional styles in an honest and pure fashion. Solobiano 2014 is a very unique example of these traditions, as well as a unique style of wine. Meaning “only white”, Solobianco is what is called an orange wine. Made from Trebbiano, Chardonnay, and Malvasia grapes, this style of wine is created in the same method as a red wine, (prolonged skin contact) but with the use of only white grape varieties. This method produces a wine with body and tannic qualities similar to reds, but with the fruit and minerality of whites. Solobianco is incredibly elegant with fresh notes of banana and hawthorn, followed by a persistent finish of balanced acidity.

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Cantine Valenti Norma Etna Red Wine 2011: Each of these wines have strongly represented the land in which they are produced, but perhaps the most impressive thus far will come to you from one of the most unique places to grow vines on: an active volcano. Cantine Valenti of Sicily is the producer of our last wine, Norma, a red wine created from grapes grown in the volcanic landscape of Mt Etna. From a paradise of vines so closely surrounded by the threat of old lava flows, this wine is made from Nerello Mascalese, a true red variety of the volcano. The adamantly organic practices of Cantine Valenti elevate the already premier cru quality of the Nerello Mascalese grapes in this beautifully natural bottle of wine. The super volcanic quality of earth in which the 100 year old vines are grown, make this wine intensely mineral driven, with notes of fresh cut rose petals and dark red fruit on the palate. The volcanic magic that surrounds Cantine Valenti has infused this bottle with a fiery freshness, making it an incredibly unique representation of Sicilian wines.

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The Snacks

Mustard &  Co Smoky BBQ: Justin Hoffman, a co founder of Mustard & Co. knew from the beginning that a plethora of fancy ingredients were not necessary to make great mustard; all he needed was good quality, freshly sourced spices. Following this mindset, Justin and Bryan started this company to create mustards in an honest, no fuss manner. Their Smoky BBQ mustard is a new addition to their lineup, perfectly timed for the summer months! Made with sweet and spicy ingredients, as well as a healthy dose of concentrated smoke, this BBQ sauce is begging to be doused over ribs on the grill or as a marinade for some baked beans.

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Anarchy in a Jar Grapefruit & Smoked Salt Marmalade: Anarchy in a Jar was started by Laena McCarthy, whose passion for jams started back in her childhood. Laena started this Brooklyn company with the goal of combining modern advantages and old world jam making techniques. Using only the freshest fruits from local farms, Anarchy in a Jar creates preserves that are unique, fun, and most importantly, wicked tasty. From their selection we have chosen the Grapefruit & Smoked Salt Marmalade for you to try. The bright grapefruit citrus flavors blend perfectly with the smoked salt, creating this smoky sweet spread with a seasonably appropriate touch of tartness!

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Boston Post Dairy Smokin Goud: If you haven’t noticed our smoked theme among the snacks in the box, you will definitely be convinced by the smell of this goat gouda. Despite the name, Boston Post Dairy is a small family run farm up in Enosburg Falls, Vermont. The farm is named for the Boston Post Stagecoach which used to travel straight through the property. Run by Robert and Gisele Gervais (and their four daughters), Boston Post Dairy makes a variety of cow and goat cheeses, as well as other typical Vermont products like maple syrup and goat milk soaps. This particular cheese was smoked with corn cobs, giving the cheese a potent smell, but a more naturally subtle smoke flavor.

Call the store at (617) 269-6100, email us at info@americanprovisions.com, or ask a staffer for more information on signing yourself or someone you love up for the Beer or Wine of the Month Club!

May Beer & Wine Box Club

Summer is Coming, but not just yet. We are still enjoying mild temperatures and cool nights. The heat has yet to make us curse at the sun (despite our intense desire for it all winter long..) Before it becomes necessary to huddle in the shade or crank the AC, we are still able to sit outside for long periods of time, sipping on refreshing beverages in in the utmost comfort. And we are here to bring you those beverages.

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This wine box is a continuation of the last, as it is providing you with wines to enjoy outside, but this time with a slightly more sophisticated approach. Two wines come to you from the banks of Austria’s largest body of water, Lake Neusiedl. The magic this lake has imparted on these two very different wines will convert you into an Austrian wine devotee. Then from one of the best regions in the world for Chardonnay, we bring you a 12 year old bottle of wine that will make you rethink the possibilities of a white wine.

This month’s beer box has a strong emphasis on local brewers, specifically the East Coast. Starting super local, from Massachusetts, we have a limited release IPA from the once solo brewer – Brewmaster Jack. From  Two Roads Brewery in Connecticut, an barrel aged saison took the road less traveled to arrive in this box. Finally, thought up in New York City and brewed at someone else’s brewery, an extremely unique Cherry ale from a fascinating brewing duo called Grimm.

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The Libations

Brewmaster Jack The Little Brother: Limited edition offerings from local breweries are always a welcome addition to our beer boxes, because they are showing the best of what we know. You may be familiar with the year round beers coming out of local favorite Brewmaster Jack, but it is always exciting to snag one of the more limited releases. Here we have a double IPA named for the younger brother of the brewmaster himself, Tyler Guilmette. Tyler started his solo adventure in 2011 with a mission to create high quality, readily available craft beers, using unique hop varieties and local grains. This DIPA features two unique hops: Cintra and Simcoe, from which the beer gets its tangy citrus flavors of pineapple, apricot, mango, and sweet melon. These tropical fruits keep the bitterness of this double in check, as does the fuller body with its slightly malty base. ABV {8.5%}

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Two Roads Brewery Worker’s Stomp Saison: Another local limited release comes to us from Two Roads Brewery in Stratford, CT. The theme of this brewery is taking “the road less traveled”, which is a motto they live up to by creating beers that are incredibly unique, adventurous, and carefully crafted. For this special bottle, Two Roads has taken their regular saison, Worker’s Comp, and as they say “stomped all over it!” This Stomp-ed saison has been aged in white wine barrels, which give the beer a wonderful round texture of woodsy oak flavors. Open this beer carefully for the cork holds back loads of carbonation which will top the honey colored brew with huge fizzy head. An aroma of farmhouse funk and graham cracker toastiness will greet you after the foam settles, followed by slightly tart notes of lemon, peppery spice, and floral saison qualities. Pair this aged delight with it’s Conneticut neighbor: Mystic Cheese Co’s Sea Change. ABV {7.5%}

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Grimm Artisanal Ales Cherry Oak Shapeshifter: Last but certainly not least is a very exciting newly released beer from Grimm Artisanal Ales: Cherry Oak Shapeshifter! Joe and Lauren Grimm are the mastermind duo behind Grimm beers, which was started in 2013. Acting as “drifting brewers”, the couple develops recipes in their kitchen apartment in Brooklyn, NY, before traveling to use the facilities of other breweries on the East Coast. Grimm Artisanal Ales epitomises the experimental spirit of American craft brewing by pushing the boundaries to create complex limited edition beers. The gorgeously designed bottle of Cherry Oak Shapeshifter is yet another example of their ingenuity. This wee heavy style was aged with Montmorency cherries for six months in used brandy barrels. Pouring a deep mahogany hue, Shapeshifter releases scents of cherries and toffee that waft off of some healthy carbonation. Tart cherry flavors continue in the taste, accompanied by malty caramel, woodsy oak, and decadent notes of marzipan and vanilla. Enjoy this fascinating beer as a cold and refreshingly tart beverage to be sipped on a spring evening. ABV {8.3%}

Fabien Coche Bouillot Meursault Charmes Premier Cru 2003: The wine region of Meursault in France is one of the most well known and sought after areas for Chardonnay production in all of Burgundy. Luckily for you, that is exactly where the last bottle in your wine box is from. From Domaine Coche Bouillot, vineyard run by Fabien Coche – the third generation owner of the estate. The vineyard is noted for their award winning white wines known for excellent balance and fruity freshness. Their Premier Cru from 2003 is incredibly full bodied and complex, with toasty notes from extended oak aging, but with enough powerful fruit to create an elegant balance, and lively structure. Many white wines are not built to be aged this long, which is why we hope you enjoy this rare opportunity to experience a bottle from Meursault.

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Sattler Zweigelt Rosé 2014: The shockingly fuschia colored bottle standing out in this month’s box is a very special rosé from the Burgenland in Austria. Vintner Erich Sattler is the 4th generation owner of his family’s estate in the village of Tadten, which has been in operation since 1999. The Sattler’s vineyards are located on the east side of Lake Neusiedl, an important body of water that moderates the warm air and growing environment of the vineyards.This bottle is made from 100% Zweigelt grapes – Austria’s most widely planted red grape variety. The vivacious pink color might make you feel silly, but believe us once you take a sip, the infectious quality and texture of this rosé will wash all your cares away. Juicy acidity and a zippy body of candied strawberry and watermelon flavors dominate the palate, followed by a delightful herbal mint quality. This wine is perfect to be enjoyed in the beautiful spring weather; the fabulous color might even inspire you to jump up and go frolic around in the sun!

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Judith Beck Blaufrankisch 2013: Here we have another wine influenced by Lake Neusiedl of Austria. Judith Beck’s estate, also located on the eastern side of the lake, is washed in very warm sun throughout the growing seasons. The high temperatures of this region are known to produce some of the country’s finest full bodied and dry red wines. Beck’s 2013 vintage of Blaufränkisch is a beautiful representation of the region, as well as a testament to the profoundly elegant and authentic style that Judith Beck has become known for. The grapes at her estate are hand picked and sorted; the Blaufränkisch grapes for this wine were taken from vines around 15 years old, grown in Seewinkelschotter soil (sandy limestone gravel). The result is a superb wine with luscious flavors of dark cherry and plum, notes of herbs and pepper, and a slight minerality within a plush textured body. This wine is an extremely versatile option to pair with, so go ahead and picnic with it with cheese and a baguette or add it to a fancy night of filets!

The Snacks

Quin Candy Rosé Gumpdrops: Spring time in candy form is possible with these rosé gumdrops from Quin Candy out of Portland, Oregon. Quin Candy is a small operation out of Portland, dedicated to making re-imagined versions of old timey candy with modern, high quality techniques. Lovingly handcrafted, these gumdrops are made with rosé wine from Union Wine, another Oregon company. The wine is cooked first to reduce it and then again to make it sweet, removing any alcohol as well. The result are these pale pink drops of luscious tropical fruit covered in a fine coating of sparkling sugar! Pop one or two in your mouth for a sugary blast from the past.

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Lilly’s Hot Mess Sauce: To prepare you for the hot mess that will be our New England summer, we have decided to equip you with Lilly’s Hot Mess sauce, a hot pepper sauce from Chicago, Illinois. This bright colored concoction started as a hot pepper vinegar that was marinated with pickled cayenne peppers for five days. After the peppers are removed, the leftovers create quite the mess – hence the aptly named “Hot Mess” result. Also in the blend are pimientos, dried scotch bonnet peppers, and cane sugar vinegar. This sauce is an excellent representation of traditional Southern cooking and can be used on pork, chicken, steak, shrimp, and even vegetables! At AP we mixed this hot sauce with some mayo to create our own spicy aioli for sandwiches.

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Mystic Sea Change: The ridiculously unique methods of cheesemaker Brian Civitello have been impressing cheese eaters all over New England and we at American Provisions are steadfast followers. A learned student of cheesemaking, Brian’s techniques stem from Italian influences, as well as his own desire to let the flavor and unique quality of the milk reign supreme with minimal intervention. He also made killer decisions concerning the imagery and literature inspired names for his cheeses. Sea Change, for example, is named after a verse in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Similar to the Robiola styles of Northern Italy, Sea Change is a bloomy, soft rind cheese with a buttery elastic texture. The subtle fruit and yeasty qualities make Sea Change an incredibly easy cheese to continuously snack on, perhaps paired with a luscious red like Beck’s Blaufränkisch or with Two Roads’ Workers Stomp Saison.

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Call the store at (617) 269-6100, email us at info@americanprovisions.com, or ask a staffer for more information on signing yourself or someone you love up for the Beer or Wine of the Month Club!