Tag Archives: cheese

Welcome to Massacheesetts: Cricket Creek Farm

Behind the charming wood doors at Cricket Creek farm is the home of a herd of around 30 grass-fed Brown Swiss and Jersey cows. Though it wasn’t always so – 60 years ago, the 500-acre farm was home to an industrious 300 milking cows and a large, grain based operation. Between 2001-2004 the Sabot family purchased the land and instituted a more animal friendly and environmentally friendly farm. With assistance from cheese consultant Peter Dixon of Parish Hill creamery, they developed their first cheese recipe for what would become Maggie’s Round.

On the most upper left corner of a map of Massachusetts you’ll find Williamstown – part of the Berkshires, and the home of Cricket Creek farm. Down a long dirt road, past fields of rolling pastures, and a view of the Berkshire mountains in the distance – you may see some cows grazing the fields, and watch out for chickens – there’s a farm open to exploration. Other than cows and chickens, Cricket Creek is also home to a few pigs, named Ophelia and Lady Macbeth.

The Cricket Creek farm store is open to the public from 7am-7pm, 7 days a week. It runs off the honors system, but staff are usually nearby to help, whether they’re working in the office, making cheese, or washing dishes. The store not only houses the artisan cheeses that we at AP know them for, but also: raw milk by the glass jug, Sidehill yogurt, and beef and pork products from the animals they raise.

Teri Rutherford is Operations Manager and comes to the farm by way of an Americorps position that helped her discover her passion for farm managing. She realized she loved the work and connecting to a specific farm would also use her experience with engaging communities, event planning, and outdoor recreation.

“Our mission is to produce nourishing food that honors the animals with respect to the community. We also want to be an example of sustainable small farm viability,” Rutherford said. “Bringing people here allows them to see what we’re doing, see how we’re treating our animals, and see how we’re making our quality food products.”

For fans of the farm that don’t have the resources to make it out to the Berkshires very often, they can track goings-on through Instagram and Facebook. “We have people making trips out to the farm because of seeing us on Instagram, it helps get the word out there and build a fan base and share what we’re doing,” Rutherford said.

However, realities of small farm life can be lost in translation through social media. “We romanticize the farm and therefore other people do that. I think that people understand that farming is hard work but I don’t think that people fully understand the financial struggle that small farmers go through. They see the beautiful pictures of where we are and the animals that are super happy and healthy and we care for them deeply. But we’re on razor thin margins here,” Rutherford adds. “The other aspect is that it’s not all happy animals all the time; there is a lot of death in farming and we don’t post pictures like that.”

For the conscious consumer, these facts are disheartening but it all the more makes us appreciate the sacrifice of the animals and the people who care for them, who milk them, and yes, send them to slaughter. It’s difficult, but it’s part of what makes a farm tick. At Cricket Creek, usually less than half of the herd is for milking, and a lot of their calves end up going for veal. Their cheeses use veal rennet – and have very few other ingredients. A by-product of the cheese-making is whey, which is fed to the pigs. The pigs also act as natural trash eaters, as they also get any cheese and other products that are not quite fit for human consumption. Like most farms, they also compost and spread manure to keep the grass growing so that the cows can keep eating.

To help keep those razor thin profit margins at bay, the cheese makers work year round. In the wintertime, they feed the cows baleage (pronounce bay-ledge), which comes with it’s own quirks in it’s effect on cheese development. Baleage is fermented hay. It makes winter milk higher fat, and lower yield.

Calista Tarnuskas is one of those cheese makers that stays hard at work. She says, “We do have issues with it sometimes in our raw milk cheeses. There’s a lot of variation in the bales, so if you get a bad one it can seriously affect the flavor, or even the smell.” There are ways it can be finessed. Tarnuskas said, “It’s definitely good to make a washed rind cheese or anything that does well with high fat in the winter.”

Tarnuskas has worked as a cheesemaker since 2009, and started her career at another local farm we know and love, Lazy Lady goat farm. “Recipes are like an ongoing endeavor for cheese making,” She said. “We write it all down and have make sheets so I know the lot number of the culture and how much I used – exactly.” She logs the temperature, time, and PH, so she can track the tweaks she makes with the resulting cheese.

Another big draw of the farm is the newly renovated barn that sits right between the beautiful overlook of the mountains and the farm store. Cricket Creek, with the help of a 2014 Kickstarter campaign, got the barn renovated for events and weddings. Though it’s another source of revenue for the farm and it doesn’t magically solve financial struggles, it is helping them to more securely break even.

Cricket Creek farm fills their corner of Massachusetts with community potlucks, letting the public see the daily ins and outs of their operations, and all the work that maintaining a farm requires. It’s hard to explain or pinpoint what makes them do what they do, but it is most soundly a labor of love for all that are involved. The rewards may not manifest themselves in actual riches, but the quality of their cheese is certainly indicative of how much care and heart they put into their operation.

All pictures and words by the author.

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.

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.

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.

staff4

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.

staff5

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.

staff3

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.

staff6

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.

November Wine of the Month Club

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

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

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

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

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

Edible Gifts

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

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

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

All photos taken by Caley Mahoney.

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

March Beer and Wine Club Boxes: NEW YORK

BEERS from the BIG APPLE

Craft beer culture is very strong in the New England region, and as residents of this area, we are fiercely supportive and proud of our local brewers. That being said, we would be sorely remiss to ignore the killer beers being brewed by our neighbors in New York City. To pay homage to the Big Apple, we have chosen and procured (with some difficulty), beers from three breweries that many craft fans would include on a top 20 best breweries of New York list.

These breweries are extremely hip, from their image and branding to their board game filled warehouses, but they are also extremely dedicated and passionate about their craft. Through much experimentation, diligent brewing techniques, and endless creativity, these NYC breweries are pushing the envelope of craft beer in general, while churning out some damn tasty brews.

Finback Brewing Oscillation 3 DIPA Beers from Finback Brewing are definitely a rarity among these parts, so you can only imagine how psyched we are to have this special one time brew: Oscillation 3! After a lot of searching around New York, the crew at Finback finally found a warehouse space in Queens in 2013. Their passion for brewing and experimentation is evident in their wide array of beer styles – a factor much appreciated by the Finback fans who make the trek out to the hip, hidden brewery. As for the rare can in front of you, it is the third release in their rotating IPA series; a double IPA that was hopped with Mosaic, El Dorado and Citra hops. Pouring a super light shade, this double is very light but jam packed full of tropical fruit flavor, sweet citrus hops, and smooth sunshine haze. ABV {8.4%}

Transmitter Brewing S6 Rye SaisonWith a focus on tradition and technique, Transmitter Brewing may be one of the coolest breweries producing the humble farmhouse style. Founders Rob Kolb and Anthony Accardi bring a whole new level of creativity and passion to their brewing process by experimenting, but also by securing quality in the use of traditional Belgian, French, English, and American yeasts. This Long Island brewery is challenging the current status of beers from NYC, as well as adding to the conversation of craft beer in general. We are humbled to present one of their saisons: S6, an amber rye ale that has gone through a sour mash and was hopped with Pacific Jade. The resulting ale is a complex combination of earthy yeast accented by sweet melon and citrus flavors and notes of rye spice. ABV {6.8%}

SingleCut Beersmiths Heavy Boots of Lead Imperial StoutAnother hidden gem of a brewery from Queens is SingleCut Beersmiths. Although two hoppy offerings have graced our shelves from this New York brewery, we decided to go darker for this last bottle, mainly because we super impressed that the quality of their stout matched that of the two IPAs before it! This imperial stout, Heavy Boots of Lead, may seem intimidating at 11.2%, but don’t let that scare you away from the incredibly smooth, chocolate filled concoction inside. This impressive brew hits all the right notes for a stout: smoky vanilla, bitter coffee, and roasted cocoa, but the complexity continues with an interesting dose of hoppy presence amongst the silky smooth liquid. ABV {11.2%}

WINES from the “ISLAND”

IMG_8555

American wines are most popularly produced on the country’s west coast, where California Cabs and Oregon Pinots reign supreme in the eyes of serious vino consumers. Yet this month we decided to create a box of all American made wines, not from the West Coast royalty, but instead from the not so humble state of New York.

Although not particularly famous for its wines, New York is home to a significant amount of vineyards and wineries. The significantly cool climate and interesting terroir of New York state has been compared to that of Bordeaux, while the wide range of lakes, rivers, and coastal bodies of water give the state a distinctive, if unconventional influence on grape varieties. This influence, as well as persistent care and patience from the winemakers, can result in very unique interpretations of wine styles we thought we knew.

Forge Cellars Riesling Finger Lakes Classique 2014The well known varietal from the state of New York is of course Riesling. The Finger Lakes are commended for their cool climate as an ideal location for the grape to thrive in. And thrive it does, especially in the hands of the three friends behind Forge Cellars. These gentlemen focus only on the Riesling and Pinot Noir varieties, in order to create the best possible wines they can. With a lot of patience, hand picking methods, and gentle pressing, they have created this 2014 Classique. Noted acidity, as is expected from the Finger Lakes region, greets you upon the first sip, which is laced with lovely flavors of white peach, melon, and yellow apple.

Bedell Cellars Chardonnay 2014This next bottle from New York is of a varietal known (and mastered) worldwide – yet it is one we would probably not expect to be coming out of Long Island. From the acclaimed Bedell Cellars, we assuredly offer you their 2014 Chardonnay. If one were not able to decide between a Californian oak laced Chard versus the honed acidity of a white Burgundy, then one might turn to this New York Chardonnay, which we would argue is a happy middle ground. Bedell’s Chardonnay is fermented half in steel and the other half in neutral French oak, which gives the wine that pleasant round mouthfeel, while still maintaining the sharper qualities of a stainless ferment. The coastal terroir of Long Island is evident in the mineral salinity of this wine, but does not overpower the gentle creamy body of citrus and tart apple.

Bedell Cellars First Crush Red 2014This last bottle will be the second from Bedell Cellars in Long Island. After impressing us with their unique Chardonnay offering, we couldn’t resist including this truly interesting bottle of red, which really represents the style of the winery, as well as the terroir of the region. Bedell Cellars was first started by Kip and Susan Bedell in 1980, who have been sustainably farming the winery since. In 2000, the winery was bought by Michael Lynne, an esteemed film executive and art collector. It is his influence that the bottle you have before you is dressed with an eye catching collage by NY artist Mickalene Thomas. This 2014 bottle First Crush Red, embodies the Long Island emphasis on art and beauty, as well as the importance of technique and quality. A blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this “Cool” New World red will entice you with cool sips of elegant red fruit and marked acidity.

EATS

Empire Mayonaise Co Everything Bagel MayoTo represent New York City properly, we needed an example of the quintessential artisan maker in the city. Enter the fashionable, tattooed, hipster couple Sam Mason and Elizabeth Valleau – the two masterminds behind Brooklyn based Empire Mayonnaise Co. This duo of half chef, half designer, concocts small batches of unique homemade mayos, with emphasis on natural, seasonal ingredients and happy cage-free eggs. For the quintessential mayo flavor, we of course chose the Everything Bagel mayo; a flavor that was inspired by the many trips Elizabeth and her grandfather used to take to a classic Lincoln center deli for those savory New York Everything bagels smeared with cream cheese.

Charlito’s Cocina Campo SecoAs one of the major cultural melting pots on the East coast, NYC has a reputation of maintaining traditional methods, especially when it comes to meats and charcuterie. Charles Samuel Wekselbaum is a perfect example of this – raised in a Cuban household in NYC, Charles traveled to Spain to study the art of curing meats. Equipped with the nickname “Charlito” and traditional curing knowledge, Charles returned to Long Island in 2011 to open Charlito’s Cocina. His goal was to keep historical gastronomic techniques alive by creating the best quality, shelf stable, (and not to mention tasty!) cured meats he can. This Campo Seco is an excellent display of such practices – a rustic, yet sophisticated style of meat made with simple, fresh ingredients.

Crown Finish Caves & Spring Brook Farm TubbyAlthough this cheese originally hails from Reading, VT, the aging process, name origin, and flavors were too awesome to not include in this New York box. This Alpine style cow’s milk cheese is made by Spring Brook Farm, then transported to the Crown Finish Caves in Brooklyn, NY. That’s right, 30 feet below the streets of Brooklyn, there is a cheese aging facility made out of the beer tunnels from the 1850’s! These historic brick tunnels can hold up to 22,000 pounds of cheese! It is in these tunnels that our big buddy Tubby is washed regularly with a brine solution as it ages. Named after famed Brooklyn architect William Bunker Tubby, this smooth pasted hunk of cheese is milky sweet and fruity, with notes of caramelized shallots and tiny crystal bits.

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

January Wine & Beer of the Month Boxes

New Year’s Resolutions….

…you may have set them for yourself — you might even be keeping to them still! At American Provisions we have resolved to ignore any pressure to diet and to just keep consuming what we like. Resolve to live for today (or at least that is what we are telling ourselves as we continue to consume meats, sweets, beers, and CHEESE)!

Seasonal guidelines suggest we should only be drinking stouts and porters during the winter months…well, we think these guidelines are a little too restricting. So, we will be enjoying our hoppy IPAs with no shame, and no hesitation, as these bottles carry enough weight to keep you just as warm in these chilly temps as the dark porter will. So go for a run! But then come home and enjoy these beers with no regrets in the New Year!

Dem Bottles

Foley Brothers Prospect Imperial IPAQuietly nestled down an unpaved road in quaint Brandon, Vermont, the Foley Brother’s small facility looks more like an extra garage next to an eldering Victorian house, rather than a killer beer making facility. It is in this magical Northern oasis that quintessential Vermont-esque beers are crafted by the hard working team of Foley Brothers Brewing. Prospect, a double IPA, is yet another example of the excellent quality we have come to expect from Foley Brothers, who have rightfully earned a coveted spot among the Vermont “must haves” of the beer world. Citra and Galaxy hops satiate this beer with profusely strong tropical fruit flavors. Candied mango, passionfruit, and pineapple notes ride a soft wave of creamy carbonation towards your taste buds, along with a touch of biscuit-y malts. Prospect will have you gladly looking to the future, because with beers as good as this, the new year looks bright. ABV {9%}

Crux Fermentation Project Half Hitch DIPACrux Fermentation Project is aptly named because of the constant innovation and creativity of this Oregon brewery when it comes to challenging the way beer is made. Brewmaster Larry Sidor and his team use a plethora of non traditional methods in their brewing process, which is not only risky but difficult if not done right. Thankfully for us, these guys are awesome at what they do, which makes their “project” results even more enjoyable. With their double IPA Half Hitch, they challenge the idea of what an Imperial should be, first off by cleverly hiding its boozy 10% content. The use of Mosaic hops ramps this beer up with incredible tropical fruits like mango, peach, and lemon, all floating on a fluffy medium body. ABV {10%}

Ithaca Beer Co. 18th Anniversary Baltic PorterThere had to be one dark beer in this January box, and when we say dark, we mean DARK. To celebrate their 18th year of brewing, this Finger Lake brewery released their version of a historical beer style, the Baltic Porter. Pouring out as black liquid velvet, Ithaca’s 18th Anniversary Baltic Porter, has that “coat your insides” quality we look for during the colder months. We recommend giving this big bottle some time to open up in order to fully enjoy the nose of light cocoa, chocolate, and coffee notes. Smooth and sultry, this Baltic Porter is full of sweet toffee, caramel, and interesting dark fruit flavors like notes of cherry from the use of cherrywood smoked malts. ABV {7%}

Winter Wines

Winter wines, mean cracking into the older, aged bottles we have been saving. The colder months may force us into hermitdom, but as long as we are stuck inside, we might as well enjoy ourselves with a few bottles of rich red wines. Drinking seasonally in the winter can fashion a sophisticated experience as we dive into reds with loads of complexity and flavors that have been carefully crafted over several years of aging.

Despite our enjoyment in drinking seasonally, we also wish to challenge the resistance to white wines in the winter. White wine, with enough body and acidity, can be the perfect companion to cut through the rich roasts and fatty foods we consume throughout the chilly days.

Domaine A. Chopin et Fils Cotes de Nuits Villages Blanc 2008Chardonnay may seem like the obvious choice for a winter wine box, but this is no oaky, butter laced California Chard that you will be enjoying. From the esteemed Cotes de Nuits Village of Burgundy, we have for you the 2008 Boncourt from Domaine A. Chopin et Fils. Currently in the talented hands of Arnaud Chopin, this noted domaine was purposefully downsized in order to better focus on the best parcels of land out of which the Chopin family is handcrafting a smaller number of truly classic, elegant wines. With a lengthy bottle aging, Chopin’s Boncourt Les Monts is immensely rich and complex; full of toasted oak notes and vibrant citrus fruit, this 100% Chardonnay is ready and able to stand up to a hefty January meal.

Domaine Thunevin-Calvet Cuvée Constance 2009:The seductive aspect of high quality soil and vines in the Roussillon region of the Languedoc is what influenced Jean-Luc Thunevin to buy a few hectares there in 2000. It was at this time that he partnered up with the native winemaker Jean- Roger Calvet to begin their Cuvée Constance project. When they began this fortuitous partnership, they were making their wines in something genuinely resembling a garage. Many vintages later, we have the current display of their hard work in this 2009 blend of Grenache and Carignan. Pouring an inky dark violet color with ruby edges, the 2009 is earthy with notes of juniper and cool stone among the textured fruit flavors of black raspberry and plum.

Le Calle Poggio D’Oro 2005The final and eldest bottle in this January wine box comes to us from Tuscany’s coastal village Montecucco, where Le Calle resides. Riccardo Catocci, the owner of Le Calle, makes his wines from certified organic grapes, a practice that he utilizes in the growing of the several other agricultural products on his farm. Unlike an entry level Rosso blend using Sangiovese grapes that is fresh and juicy, this straight Montecucco Sangiovese is an excellent display of how dark and rich this variety can become. Le Calle’s 2005 vintage is dry and intense, due to extended aging in small oak barrels. The muscular body of this Sangiovese is filled by dark cherry and herbaceous notes, perfect for a rich meal by the fire.

Treats

Willow Hill Farm La FleurieScrew resolutions this year and dive right into the oozey butter round of cheese from Willow Hill Farm. Another spectacular cheese producer from Vermont, Willow Hill farm is run by a husband and wife team who make and age their handcrafted cheeses on site of their Burlington farm. All of their cheese are aged in an unique underground cave that was built eight feet underground into the natural bedrock of the landscape! La Fleurie is their only bloomy rind, cow’s milk cheese, similar in style to a French Camembert. La Fleurie is bright and fruity when young, while showing notes of rich mushroom as it ages.

Red Table SalbandoIgnoring dieting resolutions continues and gets easier when you come face to face with the exceptionally made cured meats from Red Table Meat Co out of Minneapolis. This small farm to fork company was the predestined product of Minnesota native Mike Phillips. His passion for carefully crafted products, as well as his dedication to humane livestock practices are key factors that make Red Table meats so great. This hunk of meat you have before you is a spicy Sopressata style salami called Salbando. Made with black pepper, red pepper, garlic, and white wine, the subtle spice of Salbando will creep up on you, as a killer addition to your morning eggs or just chunked off straight into your mouth.

Sweet Lydia’s Stout & Pretzel Marshmallows:  We hope that even wine lovers can appreciate the last treat in this January box: locally made Stout and Pretzel Marshmallows from Sweet Lydia’s. A local sweet shop that started at out as a small kitchen operation for friends and family of the famed Lydia, this small business in Lowell is cranking out several varieties of custom made treats! From gourmet smores to handmade candy bars, Lydia’s creativity is only  matched by her delicious products. Exemplifying their hand crafted aesthetic and support for locally made products, Sweet Lydia’s stout and pretzel marshmallows are made using Ipswich Brewery’s Oatmeal Stout, as well as other high quality ingredients.

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

August Beer & Wine Club Boxes

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

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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

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

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Libations

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

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

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

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

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

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Snacks

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

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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

IMG_5767

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??

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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%}

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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%}

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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! 

Drink Craft Beer & Cheese Fest 2015

9thDiptychRandos

Random people who wanted their picture taken.

Say “Cheese!”

…was the completely appropriate, albeit admittedly corny phrase I shouted to the attendees of Drink Craft Beer & Cheese Fest, on Saturday, February 28th. Although I was not press coverage for the event, the large camera and flash I was toting around were enough to prompt fellow fest-goers to request pictures of themselves (which I happily obliged).

1stSquare

Clockwise from top left: Toby from Peak Organic, the booth at Pretty Things Brewery, & Cricket Creek Creamery.

I have a love/hate relationship with beer festivals. On the one hand, they’re wonderful because you get to try so many beers from talented brewers all in one setting, while mingling with fellow beer lovers. Yet the same applies to why they’re loathsome: you try so many beers in a short period of time that it becomes difficult to remember said beers, therefore diminishing their uniqueness (not to mention the inevitability of a giant hangover the next day). Drink Craft Beer & Cheese Fest, however, was a different story. As the beer buyer at American Provisions, I got to attend this event as a representative of my store, an individual with a purpose (other than getting smashed at a beer fest). I was there to try new beers from several of the breweries we support, connect on a personal level with these companies, and witness any interesting pairings happening between the beers and cheeses that we love.

And despite what my boss may believe, I did not show up at work with a hangover the next day!

This was the first beer AND cheese event for Drink Craft Beer, so it was very exciting to see so many of AP’s beloved breweries and creameries all under the same roof. Uncertain of where to begin the epic event, I hung back by Toby of Peak Organic, who graciously started me off with a soothing cup of their cask-conditioned Nut Brown Ale. Peak Organic is a killer brewery from Maine, focused on local ingredients and awesome brews. Their line up that night included Hop Noir (a black IPA), Espresso Amber Ale, which was continuously pronounced “X-presso” (much to Toby’s chagrin), and Citrus Saison, a Belgian style saison that invigorated me with the promise of warmer days to come.

3rdSquare

Clockwise from top left: Al Snape from Far From the Tree Cider, many happy festival-goers, Joe & Erin for Vermont Creamery, and Mayflower Brewing. 

Armed with Nut Brown Ale, I set off into the crowd, ready to taste. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wander far to find a familiar face: Al Snape from Far From The Tree Cider was at a nearby booth, sampling up four new cider concoctions that we have been eagerly waiting to try since our visit with them back in January (read about it here!) The new cider offerings were Lust, a cherry cranberry cider; Cord, an oaked maple cider; Juno, a maple ice cider; and Milanowski’s Nightmare, a sour dry-hopped cider. While they were all delicious & seriously unique, Juno stood out with its velvety consistency and intense depth of flavor (check back with us in a few months to see these new products on our shelves).

We were stoked to see more familiar faces in the form of former AP-staffers, Joe Quintero & Erin McIver, at the Vermont Creamery table. Joe left AP to become the New England sales rep for VC, while Erin now works as the marketing coordinator for hip food site BostonChefs.com. This dynamic duo was shelling out samples of Coupole, Cremont, & Bonne Bouche, three of our favorite goat and cow cheeses. According to Erin & Joe, the creameries attending the event each brought 100lbs of cheese for the three sessions of the Drink Craft event (a bit of an over-estimate, in Joe’s opinion). A few other creameries I spoke to had an excess cheese leftover at the end of the night—it seems that Drink Craft Beer was following the Boy Scout motto to always be prepared!

4thTriptych

The booths of Bantam Cider, Smuttynose Brewing, & Allagash Brewing.

The event was filled to the brim with a wide range of local cheeses. Narragansett Creamery, for example, challenged the norm by serving up a hot sample of their Mediterranean-style grilling cheese. Old classics held strong in the form of aged cheddars from the ladies at Cabot Creamery—they encouraged you to pair these sharp and sweet hunks of cheese with hoppy libations like Wormtown’s Be Hoppy & Notch’s Left of the Dial. The crew at Jasper Hill Cellars pulled out all the stops with an array of cheeses—Alpha Tolman, a nutty Alpine style; Bayley Hazen Blue, one of the best blue cheeses around; and Moses Sleeper, a Vermont take on the classic Brie style. Their table display also provided attendees with an anatomy lesson on the source of all things good: the cow.

2CheeseSquare

Clockwise from top left: Narragansett Creamery, Cabot Creamery, the anatomy poster from Cellars at Jasper Hill, and Robinson Farm. 

My next cheese stop was a very special creamery, Robinson Farm from Hardwick, MA. Raymond & Pamela Robinson were not at the event, but Pamela’s son Ben was there promoting the farm’s cheeses. It was because of Ben (who lives in Southie) that the Robinson’s cheese, Tekenink Tomme, became one of the first cheeses ever to be sold at American Provisions. I was able to chat with Ben and his crew while enjoying samples of Tekenink, Barndance, & Arpeggio—their strong bloomy rind cows milk cheese, which paired especially well with the always wonderful Wunderkind cider from Bantam.

6thBrewerySwuare

Clockwise from top left: Chris from Notch Brewing, Otter Creek Brewing Co., Idle Hands Craft Ales, & the folks at Rising Tide.

Many more stellar pairings between cheese and beer were formed that night, several of which I don’t remember or was not witness to, but the spirit of the fest makes me believe they existed. Some of the pairings that I do remember were suggested in Drink Craft Beer’s fest guide, while others were born out of mere fate. Otter Creek’s Kind Rye IPA was quite the match against several cheddars in the house, specifically the suggested Grafton Village’s Extra Mature Cheddar. I discovered my own pairing between Notch Brewing’s luscious Černe Pivo (Notch’s founder Chris Lohrig explained to me the name is Czech for “black beer”) and a creamy piece of Berkshire Bloom from Cricket Creek Farm. Over at Idle Hands, I indulged with Triplication—their Abbey style tripel—which provided the perfect amount of spice and fruity flavor to complement the buttery, nutty notes of Jasper Hill’s Alpha Tolman (and the guys at Idle Hands were kind enough to inform me that a Wild Turkey barrel-aged version of Triplication will be out in a few weeks!)

Now, it was probably around this time in the night that my conversations were becoming less focused, my notes were barely legible, and my camera felt like it gained 20lbs. This is also when my distrust of beer festivals began to surface. Though abundant and delicious, cheese samples can only sustain a fest-goer for so long. Which is why I (and I bet many others at the fest) was psyched to remember that, strategically stationed in the corner of the event, were the stands of KO Pies & Roxy’s Grilled Cheese. The employees of these two companies didn’t need to try very hard to entice buzzed attendees, as each beer sample we consumed made the idea of a savory pie or grilled sandwich seem more and more desirable. The intoxicating smells wafting from Roxy’s grills and the mesmerizing glow from KO Pies’ cases didn’t hurt either.

KO Pies, Ben sampling Robinson Farm cheese, Roxy's Grilled Cheese, & cheese sample from Jasper Hill Cellars

Clockwise from top left: The always tempting KO Pies, Ben sampling Robinson Farm cheese, beautifully plated samples from Jasper Hill Cellars, and Roxy’s ladies slinging their grilled cheese.

As claimed before, I did not leave this event completely hammered, despite what usually happens at beer festivals. We can’t say the same for other attendees that night—the crowd increasingly became livelier as the night stretched on, and inhibitions were thrown to the wind with ease. I began to wonder how the inevitable intoxication of fest-goers was being perceived by the very people responsible, the brewers, so I decided to ask them.

The best response I received was from Billy Morrissey, the sales rep for Allagash Brewing. Now, I’d like to believe that Billy and I were equally excited to meet each other—I was extremely excited to learn that he was the reason AP receives specialty Allagash beers, while his excitement might have been directed at the awesomeness that is American Provisions generally, and reminiscing about visits there. I don’t mind taking the credit, though—but I digress.

7thRandomSquare

Clockwise from top left: Random fest-goers, volunteers, Drink Craft Beer tattoos, and Billy from Allagash Brewing.

As streams of drunken attendees pushed past us to sample more beers, Billy explained to me his feelings about their debauchery. He suggested that there was a difference between drunken fools at a festival and beer lovers who are enjoying themselves with their favorite brews. Honest interest and enjoyment of the beers is what was important to Billy. He reminded me that our shared love for craft beers (and artisan cheeses) was what brought us all together. And it is that experience that is so integral to the craft beer world. Cheers to that!

8thDiptych

Guy who needs a beer, and my best friend Lindsay (in the glasses) posing with Wormtown Brewery.

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 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