Monday, September 22, 2008

Honey Lavender Fromage Blanc

Nettle Meadow Farm's Honey Lavender Fromage Blanc is one of the most delicious cheeses I've tasted. Made from pasteurized goat milk, it is infused with the flavors of lavender flowers and honey. Their goats' diet of wild raspberry leaves, nettle, kelp, comfrey, garlic, barley and goldenrod gives this cheese many subtle and wonderful nuances.

Founded in 1990, Nettle Meadow Farm is located in Thurman, NY, just below the Adirondacks. They use only organic vegetarian rennet so that their cheeses are 100% organic and vegetarian. Their motto is "Happy Goats, Great Cheese."

In June Nettle Meadow's Honey Lavender Fromage Blanc was named a Silver Finalist in the Outstanding New Product of 2008 category of the National Association of the Specialty Food Trade's annual competition.

Fromage Blanc (or Fromage Frais) is a fresh, very soft cheese that is similar in texture to cream cheese and often used like cream cheese, only with fewer calories. For example, one can mix it with honey and spread it on toast or fruit, add it to garlic and herbs for a savory spread or simply serve it with fresh fruit. In France it is often served with fruit and sugar as a dessert. Further recipes can be found here, here and here.

I enjoyed spreading mine on a fresh slice of cinnamon bread. I guarantee you'll love it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Find Local Wine Events

To find wine events in your area, take a look at It's a calendar of food and drink events all over the world. There are quite a few events listed in my own area, so I know this is a site that event planners actually use.

Events listed include wine tastings, wine dinners, and cooking classes. even includes events that don't have anything to do with wine--e.g., beer festivals, homebrew competitions, and single malt scotch tastings.

I started to subscribe to's free, weekly newsletter that contains information about upcoming events in my area plus articles wine-oriented articles. Doing so, however, would require me to send them registration information about myself via a non-secure site. I think I'll stick with checking their calendar occasionally.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wine in a Box = Smaller Carbon Footprint

Look for an increasing number of wines to become available in boxes. Yes, boxes. The economic and environmental advantages of putting wine in a box are currently being touted throughout the wine industry. For example, Tyler Colman (a.k.a., "Dr. Vino") in an Op-Ed piece in the NY Times (Aug. 17, 2008) writes:

"More than 90 percent of American wine production occurs on the West Coast, but because the majority of consumers live east of the Mississippi, a large part of carbon-dioxide emissions associated with wine comes from simply trucking it from the vineyard to tables on the East Coast.... Switching to wine in a box for the 97 percent of wines that are made to be consumed within a year would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about two million tons, or the equivalent of retiring 400,000 cars."
Facts such as these are motivating wine producers concerned about reducing their carbon footprints to think more seriously about using boxes.

Another advantage of boxed wine is that the wine comes in an air-tight bag, which deflates as it is drained. In contrast to a bottled wine that lasts for only a day or two after being opened, an opened box of wine can last for up to four weeks.

Granted, boxed wines have a bad image--due to the fact that widely available boxed wines are of extremely low quality. However, consumers should look for an increasing number of wine producers to put higher quality wines in boxes in the near future.

If you're thinking that you can't imagine a sommelier presenting you with a box of wine at a five-star restaurant, remember that wine boxes are not intended for wines that require aging. They are for the 90% or more of all wines consumed in the U.S. that are intended to be consumed without aging.

Interested readers can find out more about boxed wines at:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Wine and Cheese Pairing

Here are a some tips for pairing wine and cheese from Dairy Famers of Canada:

Pair lighter cheeses with light wines. This is simply a special instance of a more general rule concerning the strength of flavors in wine and food. Strongly flavored cheeses will overpower light wines to the point that you might as well be drinking water instead. Conversely, a full-bodied wine may overpower a lightly flavored cheese. The obvious corollary to this rule is of course: Pair more strongly flavored cheeses with more full-bodied wines.

Pair soft cheeses (e.g., Brie, Camembert) with light, fruity wines. Consider using a Gewürztraminer, a Riesling or a fruity red.

Pair firm cheeses (e.g., mild or medium Cheddar, Emmental, Gouda) with dry rosé wines or fruity red wines. Try a Beaujoulais, Valpolicella, Merlot or Zinfandel.

Pair firm, flavoured cheeses (e.g., sharp Cheddar, Aged Provolone) with full-bodied reds. Good wine choices for this category include Bordeaux, Médoc, Côtes-du-Rhône, Zinfandel, Rioja or Chianti.

Pair blue cheeses with Port, Ice wines, Ice ciders or dessert wines.

Pair hard cheeses (e.g., Dry Jack, Parmesan) with very dry whites.