Category Archives: Shop Local

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.

Bantam Cider: An Apple a Day…

Tucked on a tiny side street about a five-minute walk from the heart of Somerville’s Union Square is Bantam Cider. Thankfully, signs mark the way in, as it is an industrial-style space that might otherwise shy away the less adventurous. It is here that Bantam conducts their production facility Monday through Friday, churning out unique and delicious ciders that they distribute throughout Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York City, Chicago, and Massachusetts. Lining the outer wall, big steel drums hold huge batches of their flagship ciders, awaiting canning. Oak barrels are pushed against the back wall, aging experimental batches within. A worker precisely handles an interesting filtering device that looks like a bunch of folders in need of filing. But this space isn’t purely production – Bantam is an urban facility, but they also function as a taproom on weekends. Which is why much of that equipment sprawled out in the space by day is on wheels — it gets rolled away to make room for an urban cider oasis.

Manager Christina Bencivenni is my guide, and serves me up a cider in a tulip shaped glass. I choose “Hopped Scrumpy,” due to the description that includes Mosaic, Amarillo, and Centennial hops. Coming from someone who has been more on the cider & sour train as opposed to the hop hype, I find it delicate, refreshing, and palate pleasing. For the last three years, Bencivenni’s been Bantam’s sales manager and has been in the interesting position of seeing not only Bantam grow, but also witnessing the shift in the increasing involvement of women in the micro-brewing workplace. Dana Masterpolo and Michelle da Silva are the founders of Bantam, and according to Bencivenni, “to say they are involved is the biggest understatement of the century.” She goes on to say, “They’re the hardest working women I’ve ever met and they’re pretty inspiring with how dedicated they are to the quality of our product.”

After five days of full-time production and getting product out to distributors who will then get them to the consumers, you’d think they’d want to take a break, right? Nope; at 5 p.m. on Friday when most Bostonites are heading home for some R&R, Bantam is setting up their taproom. They move out the equipment and move in the tables, complete with jars of complimentary pretzels. Guests can grab a draught for $6 or a flight of 5 for $10, and enjoy a free tour while there. I assumed Bencivenni was exaggerating when she said Masterpolo and da Silva “literally live here” but maybe she isn’t so far off.

If you live in Boston and are interested in cider, or know someone who is, you may be able to recognize Bantam’s cans on sight. The sharp design and bright, primary colors draw your eye. It’s simple, but chic. The transition to cans, like many other local producers, was a no-brainer. They’re easily transportable, suffer from less light pollution, and are better for the environment. If you can’t get to the taproom, these are a great option for you to enjoy the cider. But if you can – go growler! Or should I say, growlette -not only are the glass 32 oz bottles adorable, they also have several other uses – water bottles, flower vase, spice storage – the list goes on. Not to mention, these mini growlers open the possibilities to sampling every kind of cider that Bantam offers without fear of waste.Perhaps the best thing about the wide variety of Bantam’s ciders is that you can find a unique cider to pair with almost any of your favorite cheeses. Check out some of our favorites below.

Pairing Possibilities

Wunderkind
Crisp, clean, & bubbly due to sparkling wine yeast and a touch of flower blossom honey.
Pair with: local VT brie Jasper Hill’s Moses Sleeper or french triple cream Delice de Bourgogne

Rojo
Tart and semi-dry fermented with an ale yeast, sour cherries, and black peppercorns.
Pair with: ash ripened goat cheese Ruggles Hill Brother’s Walk

The Americain
Liquid apple pie. Still dry but slightly sweeter than the rest with rose petals, green cardamom, coriander, clove, and cinnamon.
Pair with: Parish Hill’s cider washed Hermit or Daphne’s Snowy Cheddar

Find the three aforementioned ciders on our shelves at AP, or head to the taproom at 55 Merriam St in Somerville for Hopped Scrumpy and more.

All pictures and words by the author.

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.

Claire Cheney’s Cabinet of Curiosities

Note by the author:
This interview with Claire Cheney from Curio Spice Co. will be the first
in a series of a spotlight on woman owned & operated businesses.

Curio Spice Co. is a tiny spice shop owned by Claire Cheney on Mass Ave in Cambridge. Just down the road from Davis & Porter Squares, it has a sanctuary-esque feeling. An avid traveler and collector of curiosities, Cheney has a way of blending both spices and ambiance. Old fashioned looking instruments, animal skulls, and a copy of the Drunken Botanist frame her spice blend and salt offerings. Curated to be an aromatic experience, each shelf has a row of clear jars so you can see and smell the spices. It’s one thing to talk the talk of being a small sustainable business but she really does walk the walk – 99% of the spices on her shelves are fair trade, organic, and/or from small sustainable farms.

Cheney grew up in Massachusetts and spent an impressionable part of her childhood in a shipbuilding town on the coast of Maine. She credits her first solo-abroad trip to Ghana as one event that spurred her interest in botany. She says, “People don’t have access to western style doctors, so there’s a lot of tribal medicine and using the plants in their environment, and I was curious about that.”

Curiouser and curiouser….

She went on to study at Oberlin, a small liberal arts college in Ohio, where she majored in creative writing and environmental studies. As far as her studies contribution to her business acumen, Cheney attributes more the critical thinking and creative skills she acquired at school with bringing her success than her actual degree. She jokes, “I sometimes will mix it up and say I was a creative studies major, cause it sometimes felt like that. Very, very interdisciplinary.”

At Oberlin, she worked as the Local Foods Coordinator at an 800-person food and living co-op. That meant she traveled to Amish farms in Ohio to source vegetables and eggs direct from the farms. Being a woman, the farmers would not make eye contact when she spoke to them, and would only speak to the male she was working with. Also impactful was her senior thesis on wild foods, which started as a project on the wild blueberry industry in Maine, but expanded wildly. She talks about interviewing Alice Waters as part of her project, who is a proponent of the slow food movement, food activist, and all around badass; as I would talk about meeting Beyonce (but with less hyperventilating). She credits her project as being very beneficial to defining her passion for local, organic, and sustainable food practices. You can tell she’s brought her interests full circle: she informs me of her newest spice blend offering named Herbes de Romance contains wild oregano from her folk’s farm up in Maine.

Cheney’s current business model is fashioned around becoming a certified B Corp, short for benefit corporation. A benefit corporation has a mission statement that goes beyond just profit. Other businesses that have achieved B Corp status include Kickstarter, and Cheney’s friends at the company Susty Party, who sell compostable party supplies. To be certified, you need to create a set of achievable goals to fulfill your mission, which vary depending on the business. Curio Spice Co.’s mission is rooted in environmental responsibility and gender equality.

Cheney points out, “it’s a little bit tricky for consumers, because there’s so much language on packaging. Whether it’s organic, now it’s non-GMO, there’s fair trade, then there’s words like sustainable and natural.” As more and more people are becoming aware, “natural” is often used to make a packaged food seem less processed – that doesn’t mean it’s true. While for-profit corporations only have a responsibility to how they can achieve financial success, B Corps also consider environmental and social factors.

If you look closely at the label, you can see the silhouette of a bear. That, according to Cheney, is because bears are super sniffers. After a little bit of my own research, I discovered bears have a sense of smell seven times greater than that of a bloodhound. That, together with Cheney’s affinity for perfumes gives an inkling as to how much sourcing spices direct has to with picking up scents. “It’s a similar process to spice blending, using your nose and finding cool combinations. I’ve studied some natural perfume and it’s helped develop my sensory abilities.”

Cheney has put those sensory abilities she’s gained to work; she seems to always be going on spice hunting trips, her latest of which being a vanilla quest in Madagascar which you can read about in her new blog post. Her social media accounts certainly capture her passion for spices and are a wonderful way to feel like you’re on an adventure right alongside her. As she says, “I think it makes people enjoy the food more when you have the story behind it.”

As for her spice blends, they are very exact, “down to the gram,” Cheney assures me. Her scales also have to be certified by the city because of weights and measures regulations. When I was considering Curio, and wondering about, of all the things I could ask Cheney, about her cool products and amazing travels, the phrase “The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts” by Aristotle came briefly to mind. When I asked Cheney if she agreed with that assessment, she said, “That’s what’s cool about blending – and you could say the same about cooking. When you combine certain things and it creates a balance, it transcends all the individual ingredients.”

Some of Claire Cheney’s favorite flavor combinations:
Southeast Asian: lemongrass, makrut lime, and long pepper
Greek & Mediterranean: Oregano, saffron, lemon, and thyme

Find Curio Spices at American Provisions in the spice section.

All photos and article by Hillary Anderson.

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.

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!  

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! 

 

 

April Beer & Wine of the Month Club

Spring is finally here, but it has not been an easy journey. The length of this winter has been brutal, not only on our cars and commutes, but also on our spirits. It is time to shed layers and sit outside in the grass or maybe even by the ocean! With spring comes fresh possibilities and rejuvenation. What better way to celebrate spring than with beers & wines chock full of bright flavors that will awaken our senses from their long winter slumber??

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With spring comes plans for patio sipping, picnic basket vinos, & all around outdoor drinking. We are craving sunshine to drink rose in, warm temperatures to cool off with crisp whites, & fresh foods to pair lively reds with. We’d like to believe that this box has met all of these expectations and more. We showcase two domestic superstars, who give their foreign counterparts a run for their money. As well as a classic Italian red with fruit that is begging to be shared and paired. The wine box will help you welcome spring with all the excitement and finery that it deserves.

To commemorate the bizarreness that was this winter and the transition into spring, we found beers that are a little out of the ordinary. These beers are invigorating for sure, but they also put your senses to the test, making sure you are fully awake and ready for this season. Lingering flavors of smoke and funk are a common theme, melding alongside of a whole bunch of tartness and fresh citrus!

The Libations

Siren Craft Brew Collaboration Limoncello IPAFrom three different breweries, this collaboration beer has bridged the divide between beer and liquor. Siren Craft Brew in the UK has called upon gypsy brewer Mikkeller from Denmark & Vermont local Hill Farmstead Brewery, to rethink the classic Italian beverage, Limoncello. Wanting to recreate the bright lemon citrus flavors & smooth mouth feel of Limoncello, this trio put the base beer through a 24 hr sour process, after which they added lactose for sweetness. Aggressive dry hoping of Sorachi Ace & Citra hops gives the beer its carbonation & skunky hop bitterness. This daringly citrus beer is begging to be sipped outside under the sun, but watch out for the carefully disguised alcohol percent. ABV {9.1%}

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Dollnitzer Ritterguts Original GoseA traditional German style beer, goses have been brewed for over a thousand years, originating in Goslar, Germany. This is a top fermenting beer; brewed with coriander & salt, as well as lactose bacteria that is added after the boil. With the rising popularity of the sour movement, the gose style is seen more frequently, but as the name states, Ritterguts’ Gose is an original; a solid example of the gose style that you will be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Funky notes of mildew & sea salt will greet your nose upon opening this bottle. A hazy golden pour will boast flavors of lemon, herbs, & toasty grains. Low alcohol & funky tartness will certainly win you over, if the reliable balance & complexity of German brews hasn’t already! ABV {4.2%}

Birrifico del Ducato Brett Peat DaydreamYou might think you’re dreaming when you sip this concoction from the Italian microbrewery Del Ducato. Get your taste buds ready to be seriously confused, as well as delightfully surprised. Daydream is a mix of three different brews: a peated barley style ale, a rauch marzen partially aged in Scotch whisky barrels, & a Brett fermented ale. With that many factors coming into play, it is amazing how wonderfully balanced, complex, & simply tasty this beer is. On the nose there is smoke from the peat, funky earthy spice from the Brett, & a curious musky scent. From the first sip to the last there is a continuous collision of sour & smoky, tart & sweet, & fruit & funk. This is seriously one of the strangest beers we have ever come across, but we love it!  ABV {7%}

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Teutonic Sprockets White 2014From Portland, Oregon we have a white blend consisting of 50% Scheurebe, 25% Huxelrebe & 25% Pinot Noir. Teutonic Wine Company is the successful result of an intrepid couple, Barnaby & Olga Tuttle. Inspired by Riesling wines from the Mosel region, the Tuttle duo took the leap to start their own vineyard in Oregon in 2005, in order to recreate their beloved Germanic wine styles but with expressions of the local terroir. The long & cool growing season in Portland gives a great complexity to Teutonic’s vines. Complex & full of rich minerality, Sprockets will enchant you with fruity notes of orange zest, apricot, & spice all wrapped in a honey like texture.

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Matthiasson Rose 2014We couldn’t not include a rose in the wine box this month, as come spring, so comes ROSE season! Our shelves will soon be overflowing with rose wine, but this enticing bottle is in a class of its own. Matthiasson vineyard out of Napa Valley, CA is a family business run by Steve & Jill Klein Matthiasson & their two sons. With their sustainable approach to viticulture & traditional wine making methods, they have created some of the most graceful Rhone style wines in California. Their rose is a classic Rhone blend of grenache, syrah, mouvedre, & counoise. From this barely pink wine floats wispy notes of grapefruit & white peach, before washing over you with delicate acidity, bright floral blossom flavors, & a refined elegance. You don’t need sunshine to enjoy this gem, but of course we won’t say no to some rays.

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Cantina Del Clicine La Dormiosa 2008Rounding out the wine box, we wanted to find a red that would mirror the fresh possibilities that spring brings, as well as pair deliciously with our April offerings. A classic Italian grape, Barbera D’Alba is excellent for pairing with a wide range of food. From the small town of Neive, winemaker Roberto Bruno has created a Barbera that is vigorous in flavor, dry, & pleasantly tart. Following old local traditions, Cantina Del Clicine adds about 10% of Nebbiolo grapes to the Barbera during fermentation. This mellows the wine & enhances its bouquet. By law, the wine is aged at least one year, and we think this 2008 vintage still has enough bouncy fruit to find a place in your picnic basket.

The Snacks

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Neattle Meadow Three Sisters“Happy Goats. Great Cheese!” is the slogan on Neattle Meadow Farm & Artisan Cheese’s home page. We’d have to assume that the goats out there in Thurman, New York are mighty happy, because they do indeed make some killer cheese. In the case of this cheese, the cows & sheep must be livin’ it up as well, in order for Three Sisters to be made. This multi-milk soft cheese has a fresh & complex flavor profile, a bloomy rind texture, & is perfect for spring time meals. Crumble this cheese on a salad to liven up your lunch or spread it a baguette while you sip on the Limoncello IPA!

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Jacobsen Salt Co. Smoked SaltTo counterbalance the bright citrus flavors from the wines & food in this box, we decided to treat you to a more savory option. From the cold waters of Oregon’s coast, this pure sea salt is harvested by Ben Jacobsen, the proprietor behind the Co. The salt is slowly smoked over Oregan Cherrywood. This provides the petite chunks (and whatever you sprinkle it on) with an incredibly rich flavor. Embrace the inspiration that spring brings & pair this smoky salt with something tart or citrusy! Perhaps a lemon & smoked salt haddock is in the future for your summer menu. Or maybe some fresh slices of melon wrapped in prosciutto would beg you to sprinkle some Jacobsen salt on top & enjoy!

Bonnie’s Jams Raspberry Lime RickeyAnother great example of opposites melding into perfection comes in a jar of Bonnie’s Raspberry Lime Rickey jam. Locally made over in Cambridge, the raspberry lime rickey expertly marries the sweetness of raspberries with the tart bite of limes. Bonnie Shershow has been jammin since she was a little girl who helped her mother pick a plethora of 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! Bonnie suggests making breakfast smoothies with the Rickey jam or throwing it into the mix for an exciting mojito! She also loves to pair her jams with cheeses & we think that this jam with Three Sisters cheese (and Teutonic Sprockets?) would be a combination that Bonnie would approve of.

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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! 

March Beer & Wine of the Month Club

Believe it or not, we did not search far and wide for Irish-made beers & wines this month (do Irish wines exist, even?) We can’t all be Irish, but we think that, in this otherwise bleak time, everyone deserves to get caught up in celebrating heritage. So rather than focus our attention on strictly Irish-style edibles this March, we sought out beers that speak to taste of place everywhere. What we found were brewers appropriating other country’s styles to make a beer all their own, and others sticking purely to a style that’s been enjoyed seasonally for centuries. We found a Haitian women deeply influenced by Irish culture, and a mad scientist using Scotch whiskey to lend meaning to a sweet tooth.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetThe palate of a wine-drinker is even harder to please in March—we’re still layering up and cuddling under blankets, but the days are getting noticeably longer and we’re starting to see tiny batches of asparagus instilling hope into the supermarket produce section . We wanted these wines to represent the bipolarity of this time—we crave fresh earth & floral bounty, yet we aren’t kicking a velvety Spanish red out of bed. We’ve assembled a a selection of wines made by real back-to-the-landers, hippie vintners whose passion for the earth is right in line with our yearning for the year’s first tulip bud. These guys live and die by the soil—at Illahe they use horse-drawn carts to transport grapes, while Case Corini is run by a former soil scientist.

There is still plenty of the dark, brooding richness we reach for in colder months here, but we’re starting to see the lighter styles making a comeback, too. Much like the slow-but-steady thaw occurring outside, these drinks leave behind the faintest glimmer of hope—hope that these sunny days might stay, hope that daffodils might be just around the corner, and hope for the crisp pale ales, zippy whites, & refreshing golden suds of summer.

The Libations

Birra del Borgo ReAle Extra: An American Pale Ale from an Italian brewery? We research beer a lot here, but we honestly couldn’t predict how this one was going to taste. A hoppier variation on this brewer’s traditional pale ale, it is made in the commune of Borgorose in the Lazio region of central Italy. It explodes with aromas of pine & citrus, and surprises you with simultaneous malty tropical sweetness and a bone dry, clean mouthfeel. Crisp with a rich foamy head, this light brown ale pours lively and robust and will offer refreshing comfort to the heat of your Craic Pikliz. ABV {6.2%}

IMG_2955Aecht Schlenkerla Fastenbier: Fastenbier literally means “lent beer,” and it is brewed for enjoyment during the 40 days between Ash Wednesday & Easter. This traditional German Rauchbier (a smoked style) is only available for that select period each year, and is brewed at Brauerei Heller-Trum in Bamberg according to Bavarian Purity Law enacted in 1516. Made with spelt and plenty of malts to give it a hefty body, this unfiltered beer has the “Brotzeit included,” which is a German word for afternoon snack. It has only faint smokiness, redolent of pork rinds and beechwood, and kept in check by dried fruit flavors & mild hop bitterness. This one is complex enough to serve as a substitute for whatever you gave up for lent! ABV {5.5%}

Innis & Gunn Irish Whiskey Cask Stout: This English Stout from the U.K. (Scotland, to be exact) is, like most other things in this box, not specifically Irish. But then neither are most of the drunkards stumbling around this time of year, right? Deep brown and velvety smooth, it hits you right away with a nose full of whiskey, before revealing a medley of sticky toffee, espresso, dates, vanilla, and charred wood on the palate. The sturdy Scottish stout is special to begin with, even before it matures on American Heartwood that’s been infused with Irish Whiskey. This award-winning beer has extremely limited availability, so we’re happy to present you with it at such an appropriate time! Plus, we hear if you drink it while wearing green, you won’t get a hangover…but don’t quote me on that.  ABV {7.4%}

Case Corini Monferrato Rosso Bricco 2009: Crafted on the vine by soil scientist and vintner Lorenzo Corini in Piedmont’s Monferrato region, this field blend of Barbera & Nebbiolo was grown on hillsides at the highest peak of the Case Corini vineyards. Lorenzo’s background in the sciences translates to wines that represent the entire ecosystem they hail from, and this 100% organic vineyard’s terroir is at the forefront of Corini’s wines. This wine is dense with dark, complex fruit. Its production is so natural, you might find a bit of a prickle to it upon opening—nothing a little decanting or vigorous swirling won’t fix! Pair this earthy beast with your Hubaner cheese for a good time.

Domaine Ventura Vina do Burato 2012: The 100% Mencía grapes for this wine are grown in damp, slate-rich soil, in one of Spain’s most stunning landscapes, the Ribeira Sacra. Families have grown grapes there since the Romans, despite the difficulty in utilizing the steep terraces lining the gorgeous canyons. All farming at Domaine Ventura is done by hand by Ramón Losada and his family using natural, organic methods. The grapes are monitored closely for maturity, only indigenous yeast is used to start fermentation, and none of the wines are filtered. Medium-bodied with notes of rose petal and red fruits, this wine is framed by fresh, assertive tannins. Pair with your Pikliz and a fresh cheese.

IMG_2961Illahe Viognier 2014: From Willamette Valley vintners Illahe, who focus on making wines that capture the variety of soils on their stunning 80 acre estate, comes an effusive bottle full of apricot, honeycomb, and peach flavors. The 100% Viognier grapes are sourced from Goschie Farms in Silverton, Oregon, and Plagmann Vineyards near Albany. The wine is 100% sustainably farmed, from the hand-harvesting and de-stemming to the use of solar panels and two horses, Doc & Bea, who mow and bring grapes to the winery at harvest. Subtle acidity and floral notes remind us of lime and gardenia, instilling in us a hope for brightness soon to come! Pair with your Hubaner cheese or caramels.

The Snacks

Sennerei Huban HubanerMade from the raw milk of 34 small dairy farms (average herd size is 15 cows), this silky mountain cheese is aged eight months. Bearing a strong resemblance to Appenzeller & Raclette, the Hubaner packs a less pungent punch than its Alpine brethren. Its paste is unbelievably smooth & clean, speckled throughout with pea-sized holes. Redolent of cooked butter, toasted hazelnuts, and fresh-mowed grass, this cheese balances sweetness and meltability with a slightly spicy sharp finish. Rich and creamy, it is excellent washed down with anything chilled, but we think it shines particularly well beside the Illahe Viognier or nutty brown ales like the Innis & Gunn.

IMG_2957The Craic & Blonde Haitian Pikliz“The Craic” is the Irish spice of life, their word for excitement, entertainment, joie de vivre. And for Blonde Beauchamp, who is Haitian, studied in Ireland, and now cooks in a JP kitchen, that sentiment seemed like the perfect way to capture her outlook on life. Blonde first brought her effervescent personality and ebullient spirit into our shop last December, overflowing with excitement over her new product, Haitian pikliz (pron. pick-lese). She makes this fiery slaw at the Crop Circle Kitchen in JP using cabbage, habaneros, carrots & onions, and recommends using it on everything from eggs to bloody marys to guacamole. It was cultural fusion that brought Blonde her dream company, and she encourages everyone to use her pikliz to do some fusing of their own!

McCrea’s Highland Single Malt Scotch Caramels: Ok, we know Scotch is not technically Irish/March-appropriate, but I doubt you’ll be splitting hairs when you bite into one of these soft, boozy chews. They are crafted by chemist Jason McCrea, who brings a scientific determination and specificity to his goal of creating the most perfect caramel possible. Dedicated to honesty and integrity in our food systems, too, Jason and his team make their caramels out of Hyde Park, MA and deliver them to us fresh. For this flavor, they slow-cook sugar to a precise temperature to ensure smooth, creamy texture, then add a Single Malt Scotch with a hint of peat, to play against the sweetness and produce a lingering, smoky finish.

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).