The Parade Passes By
It is with great pleasure that I introduce my guest columnist this month, my good friend Steven Jenkins, cheese impresario and senior manager of Fairway Market in New York City. For those who don’t know Mr. Jenkins, say those who have been living on Pluto for the past 30 years, he has been variously described as “the enfant terrible of the fancy food business” (The New York Times) and one of the 100 smartest New Yorkers (The New Yorker). I would go further and say he’s one of the smartest people anywhere, a man who has forgotten more about food and the food business than many of us will ever know (in truth, he forgets very little). He is also the author of the seminal Cheese Primer (Workman Publishing, 1996), and more recently, The Food Life (Ecco, 2008), a chronicle of life inside Fairway with recipes.
THE PARADE by Steven Jenkins
I am absolutely convinced the parade has passed me by. It is a desperate feeling. It is not unlike how I used to feel when I was a little boy more than 50 years ago (I’m 59, but I say I’m 60 just to try to get used to it) as I sat in the bathtub piddling around while all the soapy water ran down the drain, and I chose to continue to sit there just to see what it felt like.
It felt like this. 2010.
It’s not because I’m old. It’s not because I’ve over-stayed my welcome, or that I’m a dinosaur, or that it’s been 35 years I can count that I’ve been immersed in, drenched and consumed by the world of artisanal foodstuffs. The realm of gastronomy, the retail business of it, and the importing and merchandising of much of it. Of most of it, at a counter. At counters. Behind counters, in the aisles, in the walk-in refrigerators. Of long days and perpetual six-day weeks, of never seeing relatives over the holidays, of being on my feet for hour-after-hour, of a great deal of physical labor, of lifting and carrying, of cutting myself so many times my fingers and the back of my hand look like Frankenstein’s monster.
No. None of that stuff has anything to do with the fact that the parade has passed me by. Everybody works hard, has worked hard. That has nothing to do with it.
It’s that people have changed. People’s priorities have changed. The specialty food industry is today a crystal clear reflection of those changes. You don’t hear much about Slow Food these days, do you? Sure, all those farmers’ markets are as crowded as usual, but that’s because everybody loves seasonal fruits and vegetables. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is that people are no longer committed to artisanal foodstuffs. To cooking. To worshipping tradition and artisanal culinary technique.
I just perused one of the leading specialty food industry magazines, and here is what I found:
A huge emphasis on the retail success of chips and salsa.
Cocktail-flavored jelly beans.
“Exotic” popcorn – flavored by duck fat, truffle-infused oil and truffled salt.
A news release that the trade groups that market and protect Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano have merged.
Umami flavor in a tube.
Inhalers that emit a fragrance and sensation of either coffee or chocolate, six or eight whiffs per unit.
An action plan for your business: What To Do When You Make Somebody Sick.
Nowhere in this edition of this magazine was there a shred of information about sauerkraut from Alsace or Champagne. Nothing about Espelette chile peppers. Nothing about Pago Baldios San Carlos olive oil winning medal-after-medal at international competitions, the first olive oil from Extremadura (Spain) to have done so. Nothing about blonde lentils from the Auvergne region, pink lentils from Champagne, green lentils from Berry, Du Puy lentils from the Massif Central. Nothing about farm plot-sourced nectars extracted from indigenous fruits growing across the European countryside, wild blueberries, mara des bois strawberries from Switzerland, white peaches from the Veneto. Nothing about vintage Atlantic sardines from Brittany’s Quiberon peninsula. Nor about a family-operated little company called Belberry and their Belgian chocolate combined with figs as a smooth compote meant for waffles and sorbets, nor about their remarkable fruit pulp vinegars, including one with wild limes and one with Cameroon mango. Nary a whisper about creamed Garrigues honey in a paraffinned pot from the South of France. About artisanal chocolate from a little company in the glorious Perigord region of France. Of renewable, compostable, bio-degradable knives and forks and spoons and plates made from Lorraine birch trees. Of Canonica Verde olive oil and honey from Umbria whose trees and bees share the same oxygen and real estate. Of real, handmade, egg spaetzle from a little family-operated company in Alsace. Of Francoise Fleuriet who makes one single thing – a vinegar from her region’s Pineau des Charentes fortified wine. Of a miraculous emulsion of Piedmont artichokes and garlic that is so delicious it must be bought by the quart jar lest it disappear too, too fast. Of rhubarb cider from Alsace. Of anchovies from Escala in Catalunya. Of a new triple-crème Fontainebleau-like wonderment from Vermont Creamery.
The marching band, its horns and its reed instruments, has stopped playing. They’re too far past to hear much anyway. I can hear the drummers, though. They keep banging away so that the marchers keep in step.
DCI Cheese Co. Introduces “Squa-Round” Cup
DCI Cheese Company has unveiled innovative, state-of-the-art packaging for four products in its Il Giardino line. The five-ounce “squa-round” cups made of recyclable polypropylene (#5) feature a rounded square body that offers enhanced product visibility and exceptional real estate for the redesigned label. The Il Giardino squa-round cups will be available across the country in the specialty cheese section of select retailers starting this summer.
DCI’s Il Giardino brand features over two dozen top-quality imported Italian specialty cheeses available in bulk and retail sizes. Four of the line’s Italian-style cheeses are available in the new, consumer-sized squa-round cups: Grated Romano, aged over five months; Shredded Asiago, aged over six months; and Shredded Parmesan and Grated Parmesan, both aged over 10 months. The unique squa-round containers and lids are molded from FDA-approved recyclable plastic resins and include a tamper-resistant inner heat seal film to ensure product freshness.
The rounded square shape of the package features three flat panels that clearly display the line’s updated, more contemporary label design. To create an exclusive look for the line, large graphics were designed with a modern color palette of warm, texturized browns, golden yellows and oranges, and rich greens that captures the essence of the Italian countryside. Consumers are granted a clear view of the product through the cup’s two remaining panels. The labeling and the see-through panels emphasize the line’s Italian heritage and the natural, fresh ingredients in the cheeses.
In addition to the new five-ounce squa-round cups, the Il Giardino line-up also includes the following imported specialty cheeses in bulk, random weight and exact weight sizes: Asiago D’Allevo; Fontina; Gorgonzola Dolce, a creamy style Italian blue cheese; Grana Padano, Mountain Gorgonzola, a crumbly Italian blue cheese; Parmesan; Parmigiano Reggiano; Pecorino Romano; Provolone; Ricotta Salata, a sheep’s milk cheese; and Romano. Il Giardino specialty cheeses are available at select retailers across the country. The squa-round cups will be available to consumers in June, 2010.
About DCI Cheese Company
An innovative leader in the cheese industry since 1975, Richfield, Wisconsin-based DCI Cheese Company is the largest importer, manufacturer and marketer of specialty cheeses and other restaurant-quality prepared foods in the United States. The company offers an impressive portfolio of fully-owned or exclusively-held imported and domestic specialty cheese brands including Black Diamond® , Goldy’s® , Joan of Arc® , King’s Choice® , Meza® , Nikos® , Organic Creamery® and Salemville® , among others. DCI’s value-added products can be found in restaurants, grocery stores, club stores and specialty shops across the country. DCI’s mission is to be the leading solution-based provider in the cheese industry and actively seeks strategic partnerships to expand their manufacturing, branding, sales, marketing and distribution. For more information on DCI Cheese Company and their portfolio of specialty cheese and prepared food brands, visit www.dcicheeseco.com
New Double-Cream Cremont from Vermont Butter & Cheese
The Vermont Butter & Cheese Company has introduced an exciting new cheese called Cremont, a mixed-milk cheese, combining local fresh cows’ milk, goats’ milk and a hint of Vermont cream. The cheese is made from fresh lactic curd that coagulates overnight using a special cocktail of yeast and mold that create its unique flavor. The “Cream of Vermont” combines the nutty taste of the company’s crème fraîche, the creamy texture of their Bonne Bouche and the wrinkled geotricum rind of their Bijou. An American original, Cremont is crafted in the bucolic Green Mountains of Vermont and has already found its place on the cheeseboard. Cremont boasts an 80-day shelf-life. It is a double-cream cheese, with a nutty taste and a lovely creamy texture. For more information, call 800-884-6287 or go to www.vtbutterandceeseco.com
Cubed Feta in Brine for Flavorful Meal Applications
Klondike Feta Cheese is offering options. Foodservice operators can order high-quality Klondike Feta Cheese in a variety of styles, sizes and packaging options. In addition to Feta Crumbles made from cow’s milk from family farms, Klondike Feta Cubes in Brine is also available in a choice of cube sizes. The standard Feta cube size of 5/8” is cut by a robot for uniformity —just one example of how Klondike puts technology to work in bringing this traditional cheese style to your menu. Custom cube sizes are available.
Feta Cubes offer a variety of foodservice menu applications, ranging from appetizers and salads to pastas and entrées. Feta Cubes are sold in pails of various sizes in brine. Brine-packed Feta also offers a longer shelf life after opening, which allows you to take advantage of the economy and convenience of ordering larger quantities.
The Buholzer family has operated the Klondike Cheese Factory, originally started by a farmers’ cooperative, for more than 75 years. Third- and fourth-generation cheesemakers include brothers Ron, Steve and Dave Buholzer, all of whom have attained the Master Cheesemaker designation. For more information about brine-packed Feta Cubes from Klondike, or to learn about the company’s other award-winning cheeses, call 608-325-3021 or visit the newly redesigned website at www.klondikecheese.com
New Chicken Bacon from Murray’s Chicken
Murray’s Chicken, the poultry industry’s leading innovator, has created a new, one-of-a-kind product – uncured, gluten- free chicken bacon made from Certified Humane antibiotic free chickens. True to the rich taste of traditional, premium bacon, but with 83 percent less fat than the leading pork brand, no nitrates and preservatives, this naturally hardwood smoked chicken bacon provides uncompromising quality and flavor.
Murray’s chickens are raised on select family farms, contain no antibiotics or hormones and fed an all-natural, 100 percent vegetarian diet. The uncured bacon is made from chicken thighs and breast meat seasoned to perfection with sea salt, maple sugar, celery powder and spices – simple, clean ingredients. For those who prefer to avoid pork or meat products, Murray’s Uncured Chicken Bacon offers an ideal alternative. Those interested in calories and fat content, will appreciate that a one-ounce serving of Murray’s chicken bacon contains 35 calories versus 251 calories for standard pork bacon and 1 gram of fat per serving.
A delicious breakfast alternative or a new topping for your favorite sandwich or burger, Murray’s Chicken bacon is a healthful substitute. Toss in a handful of crispy chicken bacon bits to any salad. Revamp a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich or lessen the guilt of an old time favorite “BLT” with the chicken bacon.
Murray’s new chicken bacon is a natural spin-off of its innovative product line that includes Grandma’s Chicken Soup Kit (along with fresh, cut vegetables and chicken ready for the pot), the only all-natural chicken and turkey mini burger sliders sold at retail and certified gluten-free, all-natural, breaded chicken nuggets.
Murray’s Chicken also was the first poultry company to implement a Farm Source Verification System to provide consumers with information about the family farm where the purchased chicken was raised. In addition, all of Murray’s products carry the Certified Humane label, a confirmation of its humanitarian care of its chickens. Murray’s strong sense of social responsibility is carried through to its eco-friendly foamless packaging, which reduces waste and encourages recycling. With the first uncured chicken bacon on the market, Murray’s Chickens once again has something fabulous to crow about.
For further information, please contact Steve Gold, Vice President Sales & Marketing, 28 Lady Godiva Way, New City, NY 10956, 845-639-3154 email: [email protected].
Chabaso’s New Classic Baguette –Simply Délicieuse!
The French have a name for it, that long, thin symbol of the city of light, that healthy, tasty, light and crusty icon of Parisian bread at its best – Baguette – the bread that goes to such great lengths to impress the world with its crunch. The word “baguette” means rod or wand in French, and like a wave of a magic wand, the bread has made a name for itself around the world. A popular New Haven, Connecticut-based artisan bread baker, Chabaso Bakery has recently introduced the Classic Baguette, a new artisan offering at a decidedly non-artisan price. Unlike most commercial bread bakeries, Chabaso is focused on an old-world vision and steeped in centuries-old traditions. All Chabaso breads are hand-crafted, all-natural artisan breads, hearth-baked to old-fashioned perfection. These really good new baguettes are available at an everyday suggested retail price of $1.99.
As a young man on a trip to Paris, Negaro was amazed to realize just how delicious various foods could be. “Nothing compared to the baguette I tasted in Paris. I was inspired with the idea of bringing baguettes to New Haven. So, when I returned from Paris I was determined to start an artisan bakery.”
Negaro fell in love with the taste and artistry of traditionally-crafted fine breads. Surrounding himself with bakers and bread enthusiasts, he used age-old techniques and European-made ovens to create Chabaso Bakery and a full line of American made, artisan breads of notable quality.
Over two dozen varieties of loaves and rolls are now offered – all hand-crafted from the best natural ingredients, including the finest flours – with no preservatives, and little or no fat. Trans fat is never used. For six years running, Chabaso Bread has been selected “Best of Connecticut” by readers of Connecticut Magazine. For more on these fresh and all natural artisan breads and rolls go to www.chabaso.com or connect with them on Facebook.
For more information call 203-562-9007, or visit online at www.chabaso.com