The French Cheese Board

Are you mystified by cheese?  Do you see a cheese plate and instinctively think that it’s an expensive dessert?  Have you ever taken a cheese class?

If your answers are yes, no and no, then you’ll probably be hungry – and thirsty by the time you finished reading.  Why?  Because cheese is not pretentious, nor is it only for dessert!  In fact cheese is something that is made by hand in the same manner as it has for hundreds of years- by farmers!  There are certainly machine-made cheeses, but for the intent of this article, all the cheeses are made by hand in the fashion of the cheese maker.   So, you should not be mystified.  Far from mystified, what is needed to truly TASTE cheese is to cut off your ability of smelling the cheese first.  There are many taste receptors in our mouths that are incredibly sensitive, but unfortunately most cheese is tasted with our noses first.

Located in the trendy-eastern fringes of SoHo, where the old city collides with Nolita, the French Cheese Board in its handsome and sleek space.  It is filled with ample sunlight and is a very friendly place indeed.  This outpost of French culture in the Big City, seeks to demystify cheese by taking cheese out of its usually pretentious context completely.  Instead of merely snacking on cheese, they suggest carefully tasting cheese, but not overwhelming the plate with superfluous parts.  Instead of a grilled-cheese sandwich, serving a small cheese slice- served simply with dried fruit, plain crackers (so not to overpower the delicate flavors in the cheese) and perhaps some coins of slightly dry baguette will more than suffice.

Cheese in this manner is a compliment to food, not a means to an end after dinner when you are full.

Francois, the gregarious and ever-smiling “Professeur de Fromage” comes from a long line of cheese makers.  His studied and conversational flair of instruction is filled with humorous narratives and beneficial hints.  All of these made even more interesting because of the ultimate enjoyment of the finest cheeses available.  He demystifies the different varieties, goat, sheep, cow- and breaks each one down into its unique components of flavor.  Sour, sweet, tangy, umami- what?  What is that?  I think it’s the indescribable flavor.  The one between here and there.  Confusing?  Perhaps it is- but after taking a most basic class at the French Cheese Board you’ll certainly be less confused, and considerably more knowledgeable in the art of cheese.

Getting back to how flavor is revealed, Francois covers your eyes with a black eye mask and closes off your nose with a kind of swimmer’s nose clip.  This is to encourage feeling the texture of the cheese through your fingers, without smelling the cheese, nor viewing it.

Is the cheese dry, soft, grainy, crumbly, wet, sticky, polished…?

The list of textures goes on and on.

French cheese comes in all forms, from hard, used for grating, to liquefied and unctuous, meant to be spooned and savored.  There are many varieties and no, cheese is not just for dessert.  It makes for an incredible aperitif with hand cut slices of black footed Spanish Iberico Ham, meant to stimulate the appetite.

Sure, you can enjoy cheese without a blindfold on and certainly without a nose clip blocking your passage to the ability of scent.  But isn’t it interesting to dismiss most French cheeses because they may be overly assertive in aromatics.  That is certainly a fact of life when dealing with washed rind cheeses and still others that turn into liquefaction through aging and cannot be eaten without a spoon, it would just be too sloppy!

Cheese and the study of cheese is as easy as taking a walk down to the French Cheese Board, conveniently located at 41 Spring Street in Nolita.  Bring an open mind and taste yourself into another way of being.  One that embraces the passion for hand-made cheese!

   

 

An Evening of Mezes and Music at The Farm Cooking School

Author Series-Tree of Life: Turkish Home Cooking 

An Evening of Mezes and Music at The Farm Cooking School, Titusville, New Jersey – May 9 – 6-8 pm with Author Joy Stocke and Friends

Tree of Life: Turkish Home Cooking

“The “aliveness” of the very freshest vegetables in your own garden or farmer’s market deserves a cookbook that honors not only nutritional vitality, but also the hundreds of generations of great cooks who have refined Turkey’s favorite recipes into a kaleidoscopic whirl of tastes, aromas, colors and textures. Stocke and Brenner celebrate the cuisine of a culinary-crossroads country in ways that are truly mouth-watering.”  Deborah Szekely, Founder Rancho La Puerta and the Golden Door Spa

Join Farm Cooking School frind and author Joy Stocke for an evening of mezes, conversation and music as we celebrate the publication of Tree of Life: Turkish Home Cooking (Quarto/Burgess Lea Press) by Joy E. Stocke & Angie Brenner.  Photographs by Jason Varney.

Joy E. Stocke & Angie Brenner

From her first visit to Anatolia, Joy was captivated by the traditional meze table, an array of small plates and savory snacks. Sample Gougères a la Turka, a twist on the traditional recipe featuring feta cheese and garnished with Aleppo pepper or Nigella seeds; Olives with Garlic and Preserved Lemon, Savory Spiced Chickpeas, Baked Hummus with Pine Nuts, and mini shish kebabs.

Mezes are often accompanied by a cool glass of wine, anise-flavored raki, or a cocktail such as the Bosporus Fizz – a beguiling mix of fresh carrot juice, a dash of turmeric and rosewater, raki and club soda.   Cocktail expert, author, and the creator of the Bosporus Fizz, Warren Bobrow, will join Joy and mix the drinks. In addition, he will prepare a second drink, Persephone’s Revenge – an elegant composition of pomegranate juice, raki and ice. Non-alcoholic versions will be available as well.

Guitarist Bruce Fredericks of the duo JB Rocks will play themed surprises (Did anyone say, “Istanbul, Not Constantinople?”) as well as a wide variety of music. JB Rocks entertains audiences from Docs in Burlington, NJ to Freddie’s in Ewing, NJ and the Dubliner in New Hope, PA. www.jbrocks.com

Summer Johnson, owner of Zach & Zoe’s Sweet Bee Farm will be on hand to share samples of her fabulous raw honey.  Joy has created a dish for Summer – Zach & Zoe’s Anatolian Roasted Carrots with Raw Beet Honey – which you’ll also be able to sample.  Honey will be available for purchase.

Admission is $20.00. Registration appreciated, or email Joy, so we can get a head count.  Books will be available for purchase – cash or check only.  All after-tax profits benefit Wholesome Wave empowering under-served consumers to make better food choices by increasing affordable access to healthy produce.

Farm Cooking School

The Farm Cooking School, owned and operated by Ian Knauer and Shelley Wiseman, is located at Gravity Hill Farm and is part of Roots to River Farm – a certified organic vegetable farm – 67 Pleasant Valley Rd, Titusville, NJ 08560. The Farm Cooking School is a space where cooks of all levels can come together to learn about and enjoy great food and real community.

To register visit the Farm Cooking School website – www.thefarmcookingschool.com – or click here: http://thefarmcookingschool.com/shopthefarm/author-series-tree-of-life-turkish-home-cooking-with-joy-stocke-may-9th-6pm   For more information, call: 609-213-6580

Tree of Life: Turkish Home Cooking

Quarto/Burgess Lea Press

www.anatoliankitchentreeoflife.com

The Savoy Taproom!

Let’s give a big welcome to Warren Bobrow author of Apothecary Cocktails, Cannabis Cocktails, Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails, and Whiskey Cocktails! This will be a great opportunity to pick the brain of one of the greatest minds cocktail culture has come to know. There will also be a special happy hour featuring cocktails from Warren’s books!

I’ll be signing books at the lovely Savoy Taproom, 301 Lark Street – Albany NY – 12210 3:00 – 6:00 pm Today, Sunday April 30!

Tree of Life – Turkish Hope Cooking at Labyrinth Books

Join Wild River Review co-founder Joy E. Stocke and West Coast Editor Angie Brenner for mezes and conversation to celebrate the publication of their cultural and culinary cookbook, Tree of Life. Stocke and Brenner will be joined by Cocktail Whisperer Warren Bobrow who will make and serve Bosporus Fizzes, which he created for Tree of Life. Poet and Translator Edmund Keeley will be reading his poem Moussaka, which asks the question: To use Béchamel sauce or no? The cookbook’s Spice Route Moussaka recipe has one answer.

http://www.labyrinthbooks.com/events_detail.aspx?evtid=969&loc

Today April 27, 2017 at 6 PM – 8 PM
Labrynth Books 122 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ 

2017 Spirited Awards!

OUT OF THIS WORLD: THE 11TH ANNUAL SPIRITED AWARDS

In 2017, we’re taking Tales of the Cocktail beyond the stratosphere at the 11th Annual Spirited Awards. The show might be here on Earth at the Sheraton New Orleans, but the celestial inspired cocktails served will be otherworldly as we hand out awards for the best bars, bartenders, distillers, ambassadors and writers from around the world (and beyond?)

The Spirited Awards Ceremony Saturday, April 22nd The Sheraton New Orleans

If you’re feeling especially festive come in your favorite outer space or futuristic-themed attire as we celebrate the out-of-this-world talent of our industry.


NOMINATE A SPIRITED AWARD WINNER


NOMINATIONS ARE OPEN APRIL 1-30, 2017

REVIEW THE SPIRITED AWARDS CATEGORIES AND CRITERIA

Tickets on Sale this Summer

Books, Cocktails, and Comfort Food

I’m good with all of these individually, but together? Forget it. Heaven.

If this sounds like heaven to you too, then save the date for Sunday, April 30th to be at the Savoy Taproom at 301 Lark Street in Albany. Warren Bobrow, otherwise known as the Cocktail Whisperer, will be there for a book signing and meet and greet. The event is from 3pm to 6pm and will feature a happy hour with drink specials from Mr. Bobrow’s books.

I’m jealous because I may not be able attend, and if I can’t, if anyone I know is going please let me know so I can give you money to purchase a book for me. The author’s books are stunningly beautiful and to have one signed would be a great add to my collection.

Warren Bobrow’s books are full of inspired recipes you will not find anywhere else. They are unique, a work of art, and full of flavor you’ve probably never tasted before.

Mr. Bobrow’s books are:

  • Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today
  • Whiskey Cocktails: Rediscovered Classics and Contemporary Craft Drinks
  • Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails: Restorative Vintage Cocktails, Mocktails, and Elixirs
  • Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks & Buzz-Worthy Libations
  • The Craft Cocktail Compendium: Contemporary Interpretations and Inspired Twists on Time-Honored Classics

 

An even bigger bonus is that it’s being held at the Savoy Taproom. If you have not been in yet to sample their amazing, comforting food – then go for that alone. I’ve attended many events here (including my own birthday party) and I have never been disappointed. The food is always on point as is the staff.

Look at this. Seriously.

If you’re interested – and I don’t know why you wouldn’t be, here are a few things to get you started: