Showing posts with label cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cheese. Show all posts

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Stemwinder Wine Bar

I was recently whisked away for a bachelorette weekend in Vermont for some much needed rest and relaxation. We spent most of the day at the spa at the charming Hartness House Inn in Springfield but by the time we got out, most of the shops were already starting to close early. Worried about a repeat of mediocre takeout Chinese from the previous night, we ventured out to the nearest town where we encountered Stemwinder Wine Bar in the ski town of Ludlow. It was love at first sight as we were greeted by the words "duck fat" on the menu. The rest of the menu was an experience to remember:

Oven Roasted Potatoes: These crispy yet creamy potatoes were glistening in duck fat but it was the bits of braised beef brisket and herbed aioli with Plymouth Hunter cheese that made it extra special.
Seasonal Vermont Cheese Board: I can't recall the names of each cheese, just how delicious each nibble was. This particular board was curated with much thought, from the condiments to the bread. The baguette was a house-made bread with "everything bagel" toppings; house-pickled radishes; and a tangy balsamic caramelized onion chutney. Cheeses were a trio of an award-winning cheddar, a cumin infused hard cheese, and by far my favorite, an ash-covered goat cheese.The charcuterie was as delicious as the cheeses; the Vermont-made soppresatta was a particular standout.
Roasted Marrow Canoes: The best bite of the night was hands down these marrow bones. It's meat butter at its best. The marrow is so luxurious but the addition of a bright and acidic jalapeno scallop ceviche cut the richness just enough, elevating this dish to a whole new level. 

For good measure we ordered a salad to balance out all the dishes we were indulging in and even that was phenomenal with elements like roasted beets, grapefruit, and pepitas. A couple glasses of wine and this bachelorette was in food heaven!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

currently snacking on...

...Hill Street Cafe cheddar gravy fries. Just as good as we remember from
Tour de Disco Friesin all its cheesy, fatty glory. Turkey gravy's a must.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Friday Night Cookouts at The Cheese Traveler

There's no shame in admitting that we ate at The Cheese Traveler twice this week. Not only did we stop for grilled cheese sandwiches but the prospects of a Friday Night Cookout was too tempting to pass. Even during a torrential downpour on the kickoff night. Upon our arrival, despite being greeted by sunny skies and the smokey smell of a hot grill ready to go, grey clouds quickly turned into raindrops but that didn't stop the shop from grilling, even in the rain. 

With all the ingredients for delicious grilled cheeses at hand, The Cheese Traveler had no problem transforming them into the makings of a pretty unique summer cookout menu. That means quality products like fresh, never frozen Tilldale Farm ground beef burgers served on Bonfiglio & Bread rolls, with farm-fresh produce of your choice. But it wouldn't be The Cheese Traveler without optional toppings like Shelburn Cheddar or Colton-Basset Stilton and even kimchi from Mingle next door and French pate. But with lamb bacon as another option, how could we say no?! This lamb bacon changed my outlook on lamb. I was always turned off by its gaminess, but these fatty morsels are just life-changing especially in a grilled cheese or on a burger. The gaminess of the lamb bacon adds a unique layer of flavor to the burger. I chose to have my burger with just bacon and found it needed just a touch of salt. But J got the lamb bacon with havarti and the cheese really does make a difference in complementing the bacon and adding what was missing from my burger. Nonetheless, both of our burgers were plenty juicy and cooked to a perfect medium rare on a charcoal grill. We can't tell you how much we admire the charcoal grill; it just adds so much more flavor. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Cheese Traveler

For whatever reason, growing up in Canada the only kind of cheese that was around my house were wedges of Laughing Cow cheese spread. My parents didn't grow up with cheese products in Vietnam nor did they ever develop a taste for it here.  It wasn't until we moved Stateside that I got a taste for grilled cheese sandwiches.  As a kid I marveled at the grilled cheese of my friends' childhoods: gooey bright orange slices of Kraft singles melted between buttered slices of Wonderbread. I've since graduated from American cheese and have discovered grown-up variations. 

There's something magical about perfectly toasted bread and melty cheese. Add gourmet ingredients and grilled cheese is taken to a whole new level. After this weekend, I'm pretty sure J and I have found the grilled cheese sandwiches of our dreams at The Cheese Traveler. We're no cheese connoiseurs but you don't need to be to stop by here. The staff are very knowledgeable about their products and happy to educate you about the nuances and origins of the various cheeses. As purveyors of all things delicious, it's no surprise that you'll find a quality grilled cheese sandwich here. All the ingredients are found right in the store. Here you'll find the finest of ingredients from bread to cheese, to charcuterie and even fruit spreads and chocolate bars. 

There are two grilled cheese menus at The Cheese Traveler: the front board is reserved for the day's specials while just around the corner, you'll find the full regular menu overlooking the olive bar and case of cured meats. Anything with duck confit usually calls our name so we got one sandwich from the daily menu (a duck confit and rippleton cheese with cider jelly) and one from the regular menu (The Spicy & Smoky). It's not just the bread or just the cheese that makes each and every one of these grilled cheese sandwiches special but the unique pairing of ingredients. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Brewery Ommegang & Cafe

J and I decided to venture out to Cooperstown during our staycation. Our goal was to finally visit Brewery Ommegang after unsuccessfully trying to squeeze in a tour and tasting this past summer. The brewery was way too hectic and overcrowded on a July weekend and now that it's fall season, it's the perfect time to visit. Plus the scenic route along Route 20 is perfect for leaf peeping this time of year. 

We got to Ommegang just as a tasting was starting and opted to jump in. Ommegang beers are on the stronger, alcoholic side. Needless to say a 6-mini flight tasting on an empty stomach wasn't exactly the best idea but it's quality beer! Ommega
ng prides itself on Belgian-style beer and at $3 per tasting plus a souvenir shot glass, it's a steal. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and no, there was no Game of Thrones beer samples but you get the classic six: Witte, Rare Vos, Hennepin, Abbey Ale, Three Philosophers and a fall brew called Scythe & Sickle in honor of the harvest season akin to the pumpkin beers of the season without the spices. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

La Empanada Llama

We can officially add Peruvian cooking to our list of favorite ethnic eats. Just last week I got I got a chicken empanada from La Empanada Llama lunch stand at the Empire State Plaza. That empanada was so memorable that I had to track down the restaurant and share my find with J. 

I remember reading about the new La Empanada Llama storefront located in the Crestwood Plaza in Albany (same plaza as Spinner's Pizza) and can't believe I didn't make it a point to stop by earlier. J and I got to the place a little before closing time and and the restaurant was sadly empty except for the life size stuffed llamas. We decided to order a small feast to go which seems to be the norm vs. dine-in. 

Since empanadas are the specialty, we ordered one of each kind: beef, chicken, chorizo, and spinach and cheese. For little hand pies, these puppies were packed with flavor. The dough is light and flaky yet not too greasy from being fried. J's a "meatatarian" and the spinach and cheese was his favorite.  My favorite was the chorizo and cabbage empanada, which was different from the bright red and spicy Mexican chorizo that I'm normally use to. I was taken aback by the bites of raisins in the beef empanada but the sweetness worked so well with the spiced beef, corn and rice filling. As for the chicken, I can see why it's a Farmer's Market bestseller. It's cooked in a traditionally aji amarillo sauce, a Peruvian yellow chilli pepper, that is midly spicy but not as sharp as jalapenos. It's a good starter empanada, even for my co-worker who normally isn't adventurous and she loved her first time trying something new. Needless to say, not one bite of any of these empanadas was disappointing. It was a good balance of flavorful filling to crust. What we discovered is that there's so much more to La Empanada Llama than its signature empanadas.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Charles F. Lucas Confectionery & Wine Bar

Not too long ago FUSSYlittleBLOG wrote about iced coffee at The Confectionery and as a coffee fiend, I had to try it for myself. My absolute favorite iced coffee joint from my NYC days is Abraco in the East Village. They hands down have the best iced coffee in town; it's stupidly strong yet uniquely tart and oddly enough, a bit sour. At the same time it's not too bitter and the ratio of ice to milk to sweetener is just magical. I shouldn't be comparing The Confectionery's iced coffee to Abraco's standards, but in my mind, nothing will ever top Abraco. The magic at Abraco is most likely in the beans but I was pretty happy with the Confection version. It's refreshingly tart yet not too bitter. I'm no stranger to chicory coffee; it's our go to Vietnamese style coffee (with condensed milk of course). Chicory does give the coffee blend a mellower flavor and while I favor a strong, dark roast I appreciate it just as much in iced coffee especially when it's a cold brew.

Iced coffees aside, The Lucas Confectionery is like an adult candyland. On our first trip, we

got there too late and missed out on Troyster Tuesdays and opted for a cheese and charcuterie board with a glass of Riesling of course. We ended up with some speck,prosciutto, and teahive cheese. The teahive is Cheddar style, cow's cheese hand rubbed with black tea and bergamot oil that imparts a unique floral undertone and was just delightful especially paired with a shortbread cookie. There's no doubt that The Confectionery is serving quality products. These paper thin cured meats are melt in your mouth unctious bites of salty fatty bites. I'm no connaiseur of wine pairings, but whatever I was drinking along was fine by me; the star was this slate of meat and cheese.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Buffalo Mac 'n Cheese

When the buffalo wing craving hits, make a mac 'n cheese version! We all know and love crack dip aka buffalo chicken dip and a comforting cheesy pasta is the perfect vehicle for this dip. I'm terrible at following recipes and usually  just look at the ingredients and throw it all together. I started with a deconstructed buffalo chicken dip by chopping in a blender cooked chicken breast and four garlic cloves. I mixed the chicken in a bowl with roughly 1/4 cup of sour cream and hot sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Toss in some chopped scallions and this could stand on its own as a dip but we're making buffalo chicken mac 'n cheese! On a side note, add some cream cheese and blue cheese to this mixture and it becomes a killer dip.

Ever since discovering this one pot mac 'n cheese method, it's my go to recipe for the ultimate comfort food. Cooking the elbow macs in milk is stupidly simple and just as good as the bechemel cheese sauce version, plus less pots to clean! Just make sure you have lots of milk on hand so you don't burn the pot. After all your cheesy goodness has melted and is a creamy delicious pot of carbs, mix in that buffalo chicken mix and you've got yourself one great meal. What about the celery and blue cheese you ask? Why this celery salad is the perfect accompaniment. Score, who needs to go out for wings? -R