Category Archives: General Updates

Spring Events Roundup: May We Have Your Attention Please

When spring hits in Boston, it hits hard and fast, like a home run hit in Fenway park. Hard as the sound of a million boat shoes hitting the patio pavement. Fast as a bunch of rosé bottles being emptied into a slushy machine. If you blink, you might miss it and you’ll already be headed into the dog days of summer, sitting in traffic on your way back from the Cape.

As unpredictable as the weather can be here in New England, there are a few things we can rely on. There will be at least a few nice days. And there will be lots of events with great opportunities to try new things, whether it’s food, alcohol, or meeting new people. We’ve spent a lot of time shoveling, de-icing, and sitting indoors – spring means we’ve earned a little rosé on the patio time.

Plus, we had to get in on the action ourselves. Below, learn more about a dinner party at Steel & Rye and two events we are hosting in the store this spring.

Thursday May 4th $95
Steel & Rye House Party #3
Six stunning courses paired with wine from one of our favorite local importers, Oz Wine Company. Chef Brendan Joy will be cooking up a spring menu, and AP will be contributing with a cheese course. Space is very limited! Call S&R to reserve your spot.

Saturday May 6th 6-9pm FREE
Hip Hop & Rosé
Join us in the store to taste fresh wines and hear fresh tunes. We will be pouring samples, and DJ Ryan Brown will be spinning in the store while you shop and drink.

Saturday May 20th 6:30pm TBA
Natural Wines 101
When you think of additives and chemicals, you probably think of twinkies or lunchables – but do you ever think about what goes in mass-produced wine? Mike from Mise Wines will be here talking about their specialty – natural wines. What they are, what they aren’t, and what that word actually means when it comes to wine. Stay woke. Subscribe to our email list to stay in the know about when tickets are released for this event.

Now, check out some of these local chosen events with people, things, and places that we love.

APRIL

Saturday April 22nd 11am-10pm FREE
Pennypacker’s Pig Roast
@Night Shift Brewing
New England natives and beer brewing heroes Night Shift combine with Pennypackers, a culinary delight, to bring you this event at Night Shift taproom.

Sunday April 23rd 3-5pm $5
GUAC OFF
@the Painted Burro
Attention, guac lovers! Entrants to this event will put their best avocado forward in hopes to bring home the prize: a $400 gift card and the chance to grace the Painted Burro’s menu. Ticket proceeds will benefit No Kid Hungry. As an attendee, you will get to try and vote on your favorite guac(s).

Tuesday April 25th 7-9pm $30
DIY Spent Grain Dog Treat Class
@Slumbrew
At this informational class, learn how to use a beer brewing by-product to make healthy treats for your dog.

Saturday April 29-30th 10am-4pm FREE
SoWa Open Market Kick-Off Weekend
@450 Harrison Ave
Boston’s biggest outdoor market needs no introduction. With a farmer’s market, vintage sellers, plenty of food trucks, and live music; it’s no wonder this is one of our favorite spring/summer rituals.

MAY

Monday May 1st 7:30-9:30pm $30
Beers & Bites: Wings!
@Harpoon Brewery
Wings from 10 different Boston restaurants and 20 beers on tap!

Wednesday May 3rd 8-10pm FREE
Opinionation
@Sixth Gear Cask & Kitchen
This isn’t your typical trivia – teams guess the most popular answer to questions. The more popular the answer, the more points you get. And of course, there are prizes. If you’re a fan of Family Feud you have to check this out. This event happens every Wednesday.

Thursday May 4th 6:30-7:30pm $15
Tea Basics 101
@MEM TEA
This workshop will take you through the different types of teas, where they come from, the processing of the plants, and their health benefits.

Saturday May 13th 10am-5pm FREE
Bubble Party!
@Evy Tea
All patios aren’t just for alcohol – some have bubble tea and cold brew too!

Saturday May 13th 12pm-11pm FREE
Springtime Spectacular at the Lawn on D
If you’ve never been to or heard of the Lawn on D, it’s the place where everyone takes pictures on those luminous swings. This event will have all the bells and whistles an opening day should: food, music, drinks, and activities.

Saturday May 13th 12:30-4pm or 5:30-9pm $59.50
Beer Summit
@The Castle
This event is a must for beer lovers. Join local and international brewers at the Castle in Boston for their 9th year running.

Saturday May 13th 12-1:30pm & Sunday May 14th 2-3:30 $24-60
Mother’s Day Truffle Making Workshop with Taza Chocolate
@Boston Public Market
Learn how to roll truffles for mom at this hands on class. Taza Chocolate and The KITCHEN will provide the ganache, chocolate, and toppings. You’ll leave with a dozen truffles and a one of a kind gift for mom.

Sunday May 14th 10am-3pm FREE
Lilac Sunday
@the Arboretum
Lilacs only bloom once a year, and the Arboretum makes a day of it. Tours, family activities, food trucks, and dog watching are key parts of this festival.

Monday May 15th 9am-4pm members/non-members $100/$150
Sensory Evaluation of Cheese Workshop
@Boston Public Market
MA Cheese Guild collaborates with The KITCHEN on this intensive one-day workshop. This course, offered by cheese educator Dr. Montserrat Almena, is an opportunity for anyone serious about cheese to improve sensory skills and understanding of cheese quality.

Saturday May 20th 11am-4pm FREE
Kite & Bike Festival
@Franklin Park
Come ride bikes and fly kites at this historic annual event. Franklin Park’s opening day will have food trucks, music, and Boston Bikes will be supplying bikes to ride.

Friday May 26th 6:30-10:30pm FREE
Friday Brass with Boycott and the Hartford Hot Several
@Aeronaut Brewery
This monthly brass band show series caught our eye because the hosts are our friends at Aeronaut Brewery. Definitely one of our favorite taprooms in the Boston area, Aeronaut has options on tap for every beer lover, from IPAs to sours. Have a beer and put some brass in your step.

Hopefully this list gets you started with some spring fun, but when in doubt: spend a day hanging out on the Charles, walking through the North End, people watching in Boston Common, or enjoying an American Provisions Italian while watching the waves at the M street beach. Have a specific event or must-do thing in spring? Leave a comment below.

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.

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!

February Beer & Wine of the Month Club

Whether you’re celebrating Cupid or damning his name this month, it’s never a bad thing when society gives you an excuse to indulge. The February classics—oysters, chocolate, bubbles, lush cheeses and rich steaks—are just as enjoyable eaten on the floor during a Netflix binge as they are when shared with the one you love. We’ve put together a box of goodies that will make you feel pampered, and we don’t care if you enjoy the contents with your best friends, with your lover, or with no one at all (who says you have to share?)

From luxurious sour cherry wild ales and chocolate oyster stouts to suggestively-titled red Burgundy, this box hits all the usual suspects and then some. We also have a spicy horchata milk stout that we trekked through blizzards to procure for you, a sparkling pinot noir, and gorgeous marshmallows for impromptu fondue. We hope these treats find their way to an intimate, personal table topped with candles, cartoon Valentines, or just dozens of bottles of nail polish. This February, raise your glass to the most deep, undying connection in all our lives—the love of good food. photo (28)

The Drinks

Foolproof Brewing Shuckolate: A limited edition Valentine’s Day brew from Pawtucket, Rhode Island’s Foolproof Brewing, the Shuckolate is a salty-sweet combo made for lovin’. A romantic collab between Walrus & Carpenter Oysters and Garrison Confections, this oyster stout is brewed with 300 oyster shells! This mineral brininess provides a perfect counterpoint to the sumptuous velvety chocolate, resulting in a beer that screams decadence. Put on some Barry White or Frank Ocean, let your cheese come to room temperature, and this seductive brew will wash away all your troubles. ABV {6%}

Night Shift Brewing Art #20: El Lechedor: Boy, let me tell you the lengths we went to get you this beer! From Night Shift’s limited Art series, the El Lechedor was released on January 28, two days after the first big blizzard. The boys at Night Shift told us there wouldn’t be enough to give us a case, but that we could come to the release party and try to snag a few bombers. Our beer buyer Caley braved the Orange Line and the snowdrifts along Route 16 in Everett (a treacherous walk any time of year) and returned to the shop victorious! We got just enough for you guys in the Beer Club, which is the kind of magic this club was made for. We are now proud to give you Art #20, a Mexican-style Horchata Milk Stout brewed with poblano peppers, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla beans, and fermented in oak barrels. Spicy, creamy, and sweet, this bottle smells like fresh green chilies and tastes like a sunset near the equator—drink it in. ABV {6.9%}

Allagash Brewing Midnight BrettTo round out our collection of sensual experiences, the Midnight Brett from Portland, ME’s Allagash Brewing is a master of seduction. We were stunned by its beauty when it first graced the Allagash Instagram a few weeks ago, cloaked in dark, sultry shadows. Blood-black in color but full of ripe, red fruit flavor, this beer is fermented in stainless steel tanks with the Allagash house strain of brettanomyces. It has a sour cherry character tempered by a tart dryness, and is slightly more light-bodied than your average Flemish red. Wilder than Monk’s Cafe or Duchesse de Bourgogne, yet rich enough to be on par with those titans, we think this beer is a dream date for the cheese and chocolate in your box. ABV {7.3%}    photo 1

Leitz Spätburgunder Weissherbst Sekt Brut 2013: From the Rheingau vineyards of Johannes Leitz, a winemaker growing in esteem every day, we get this stunning bottle of sparkling Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder in German). The de-stemmed grapes go directly to press where they macerate for 3 hours before being gently pressed. From then on out, they undergo a white wine process. Secondary fermentation occurs in stainless steel tanks, leaving us with a light and sprightly bottle overflowing with ripe grapefruit and sharp acidity. Every bottle we’ve gotten from the Leitz estate has blown us away with its remarkable sense of the dry and lively German terroir, and this bubbly rosé is no exception. A surefire way to impress your Valentine, even if you’re your own Valentine.

 

Paul Janin-et-Fils Moulin-a-Vent Séduction 2007: All the bottles from Paul Janin et Fils are marked with a stoic windmill that has overlooked their vineyards since the 15th century. In the same silent, consistent way, this family of winemakers has tended their vines for generations. The Janins farm in flaky, pink granite soil that produces structured and powerful age-worthy wines. This 2007 bottle of single-estate Cru Beaujolais boasts a spicy nose with hints of mint. Romantic floral notes of jasmine and rose play on the palate with faint red fruits, before finishing dry on notes of wet leaf and rustic earth. This red burgundy provides an enticing partner to any of the amorous foods you enjoy this month.

 

Tenuta Ponte Grecco di Tufo 2009: A gorgeous winter white from central Irpinia, where the Greco & Coda di Volpe are grown on hillsides with good exposure and excellent soil. Delicate, full-bodied, and round with a pale golden hue and an intense, lingering finish, this food-friendly wine from the Campania region pairs excellently with the cheese in your box. With a hint of biscuit on the nose and bold flavors of peach and apple, it’s easy to see why the whites of Tenuta Ponte are regarded as some of the best in southern Italy. This wine has a refreshing minerality ready to wash down anything from oysters to indulgent steaks and rich, creamy sauces—in other words, the perfect Valentine’s Day white.

The Snacks

Ruggles Hill Creamery Ada’s Honor: Last month, we received our first cheeses from Tricia Smith & Michael Holland, goat farming wizards and national-award-winning cheesemakers. These guys raise their Oberhasli and Saanen goats in the beautiful historical relic that is Hardwick, MA. These idyllic surroundings are where the goats grow up, and where Tricia and Michael hand-craft all of their cheeses with a care and attention to detail that shines through in the finished product. Ada’s Honor, named for their first herd queen, is a bloomy rind goat cheese modeled after a French Chabichou. The earthy rind complements the compact citrusy body. The taste is mild yet complex, reflecting the exquisite milk produced by these happy, grass-fed goats.photo 3 (2)

Mast Brothers Chocolate Sheep Milk Bar: Bean-to-bar chocolate began as a move away from milky candy bars, over-sweetened stuff that bore no resemblance to cacao beans. Lately, though, the call for a craft milk chocolate has grown louder, and the makers are finally listening. But would you expect Brooklyn’s premier chocolatiers, Rick & Michael Mast, to do basic milk chocolate? Of course not. These Iowa brothers, known for sailing a ship across the ocean to personally source their beans, have released three milk bars this year that really flip the script. The line contains a sheep, cow, and goat milk bar, meant to highlight the milk itself as an ingredient worthy of spotlight. Each pairing of milk type and cacao origin is a deliberate match to coax out nuance. This bar pairs sheeps milk with the Peruvian cacao, releasing flavors of fig, mushroom, & walnut. A great match for Ada’s Honor.

Sweet Lydia’s Assorted Marshmallows: These adorable gourmet mallows are hand-made in Lowell, MA by Sweet Lydia herself, a woman who got started crafting sweet favors for friends and family. Lydia’s business took off when she made mallows for her own wedding, a lucrative business move that sweetened the deal with her husband and got her name out there in the confection world. In raspberry, mocha, vanilla, and toasted coconut, these mallows are incredibly versatile—they can be toasted, s’mored, plopped into a cup of hot cocoa, or dipped into some chocolate fondue (our personal Valentine’s Day favorite).

 

 

AP Does Connecticut Again: The Mystic Cheese Co.

Last week we told you about the second half of our day in the Constitution State, drinking sour beers at Two Roads Brewery. Today, we have the daunting task of sharing with you the incredible wealth of knowledge that is Brian Civitello.brianlinnicow

We started our day with Brian, on the beautiful rolling hills of Lebanon, Connecticut. Tucked deep in some dense woods, the landscape opens up suddenly to reveal the vast expanse of fall foliage and pastureland of Graywall Farm. Herds of cows were lapping up a drink at a small brook and it was peaceful and quiet—the only sounds we heard were cows grunting lazily, a flock of birds singing on the roof of the barn, and breezes rustling the orange treetops.

This utopia is where Brian keeps the two shipping containers that house the Mystic Cheese Co. Continue reading

AP’s Connecticut Road Trip: Part 1

In all our local ramblin’, we’ve come across plenty of Western Mass. booths at farmers markets, tons of Rhody produce or Brooklyn condiments, and good lord, the sheer volume of Vermont cheeses.

We’ve noticed a void, though, just beneath our great state. A void that, thankfully, has started to fill up over the past year. So we decided to celebrate the growing food scene in Connecticut by paying a visit to two of our favorite Nutmeg State artisans: Two Roads Brewing and the Mystic Cheese Company.

BarPeopleDrinks2We had to get some food in our stomachs so we hit up Mystic first (which you can read all about next week). Then we made our way to Two Roads in Stratford, CT, where they were hosting Sourcopia, an event to celebrate the release of three new sour beers (a kriek, gueuze, and balsamic ale). Continue reading

To the Makers!

We like to think every day at AP is a celebration of our makers, but this past weekend we made things real official with a rager thrown in their honor. Chalksign

On Saturday night, the store closed early for an all-out after-hours bash, where we introduced some of our favorite local craftspeople to their devoted fanbase in Southie and welcomed some newcomers and out-of-towners to celebrate the artisanal New England scene, too. Continue reading

September Beer & Wine of the Month Club

We always get a little emotional when we see the first “Back-to-School” displays in stores, or articles on the newsstands. It’s a strange nostalgic mix of remembering how different each fall felt as a kid, knowing that another summer has gone by too fast, and as a New Englander, anticipating the upcoming symphony of colors on the trees. It isn’t entirely a bad feeling—but it’s poignant, stirring, wistful. Maybe we’re just too sentimental, but it’s a watershed moment at which we love to pause and reflect on both past and future.

photo 2 (1)To celebrate this turning point, we’ve assembled a Back to School box for you, full of a few teaching moments, homages to simpler times, and some esoteric products that win you over in time (think of all those books you hated reading in high school and love now). Peanut butter & jelly take a gourmet turn, an uncommon cheese is made user-friendly, and some organic, biodynamic wines and one-off brews challenge our interpretation of classic styles. So dive in, note-taking is optional, and your only homework is to taste it all. And best of all—there will be no test! Continue reading

Grillo’s Comes to AP / AP Goes to Grillo’s

photo-41A long time ago, before restaurant menus started boasting brine in every appetizer, before the food world fell mouth-over-heels for pickles (and before Portlandia made fun of us for it), Travis Grillo had a crazy idea.

In 2008, the founder of the now-ubiquitous Boston-based pickle company had just endured a rather involved interview process for a job at Nike when the pickle idea came to him. Nike narrowed it down to just two candidates, and when they chose an inside guy, Travis gave the corporate world the proverbial middle finger and decided to start selling pickles out of the back of a wooden cart built by his cousin Eric. Continue reading

August Beer & Wine of the Month Club

We cannot believe it’s almost September. Where did the summer go? Doesn’t it feel like the polar vortex, like, just ended? If it seems like you were only just beginning to indulge in warm weather proclivities, fret not—we’ve got a box full of treats here that take basic summer tastes and kick them up another notch. We’ve all had our fair share of whites and rosés, ciders and summer beers at this point, and while we may not be ready to trade in our sandals for boots, we could all use an exciting new riff on the classic crisp, citrusy refreshers.photo (24)

This month, we’ve got a rosé that combines all our favorite aspects of this season’s offerings; a unique & sustainable white that shares a name with one of our favorite local producers; and a daring French red with a wild side. For beers, we’ve got a sweet, cloudy Belgian that hides a shocking ABV behind a pretty smile; a cidah from Down Undah boasting the addition of tropical fruits; and a zesty hop-heavy lager that’ll take you places other lagers haven’t even heard of. For seasonal eats, this box contains a once-a-year opportunity to try sustainably-raised honeycomb; an award-winning spiced crumbly goat cheese; and salt water taffy unlike any boardwalk variety. We hope you use the contents of this month’s box to party last-hurrah style, before we start talking to you about pumpkin beers and turkey table wines.  Continue reading

An Ode to Sodium

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Ok, real talk—does anyone actually know if salt is bad for us? Supposedly it increases blood pressure, which apparently leads to a slew of health problems that do not sound fun. But I swear I read something recently about how it isn’t that unhealthy. Or that our risk of high blood pressure is predetermined at birth. Or that you’d need to eat Burger King two meals a day to be in real danger—not exactly cause to worry about how much finishing salt you sprinkle on your organic veggies.

Whichever one of those theories is true (…if any), we are hanging our hats on it. Because here at AP, we really like salt. Like, are stupid smitten crazy about the stuff. The crystalline white flakes top two items on our sandwich menu, we got Night Shift Brewing to put our name on their salted beer, and some of us have even been guilty of crusting lunch-time tomatoes and avocados with it (if it doesn’t crunch, it’s not enough). Lately, we’ve been bringing in way more fixes for the sodium fiend than just your standard granules. On our shelves right now, you can find products as varied as candy & ice cream, cookies & chocolate bars, beer & bagel chips that all boast a salt-centric agenda. Continue reading

AP’s Annual Feats of Strength

Once a summer, our store endures a whirlwind weekend of high-stakes cheese battling, 70-mile bike riding, and gourmet-sample-gorging so intense that we don’t want to look at food for days. For a crew that engages in light cheese battling every week, samples products every other hour, and bikes to work every day, we ought to be pros at this by now. But, as in years before, it proves simultaneously thrilling and exhausting.

All this went down about a week ago, when shop owner Andy and cheese buyer Mike rode their bikes from Boston to the Cape for an MS fundraiser while our other owner Matt partied hard at the 3rd Annual Cheesemonger Invitational, then met up with me at the Mast Brothers Chocolate factory for a tour, before walking the floor at the Fancy Food Show, home to many of our makers for the weekend (main snaps go to the rest of our staff, though, who stayed home to make sure the store didn’t fall apart). Continue reading