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Entries in blue cheese (3)

Friday
Mar012013

February – A Month in Review

Well, folks another month has come and gone! And I am not sorry to see February go, I must say. My soul has spent the month recoiling from the cold weather. And if you think that's hyperbole, you clearly don't know me. I contemplated purchasing this to help warm the cockles of my heart:

I didn't do it, however, and instead somehow convinced Marmo to take me to Puerto Rico for a girls' weekend. I'm really not sure how I managed this, especially considering I couldn't even coordinate my socks for practice this month.

Despite the cold and mismatched socks, John and I managed to be relatively productive in February. We continued our Slice of the Month series with a Beet Chip and Spinach extravaganza that may indeed warm the cockles of YOUR heart with its iron-packed ingredients.

We also created a ridiculous but loving ode to Di Fara's pizza. John choreographed the whole peel-dancing affair. Please tell him how much you like it. And his hair.

And speaking of pie, I ate some. I travelled to Gowanus to sample Four and Twenty Blackbird's Pie As Big As My Face. Actually, it's official name is Chocolate Bottom Oatmeal Pie. But it was as big as my face. Go get some. You don't want to miss that oaty-topping.

We also featured a Farmer Friday post about creating your own flower arrangements for Valentine's Day. However, we highly recommend repeating this post for Easter table arrangements. Get clippin'!

And speaking of farmers, as you might have noticed from the title image, I visited Terrain this month with the Megs. It was a glorious day of visual overload, impulsive purchases and cheese. Consider these highlights:

The flower arrangements were off the charts and had me eagerly anticipating spring... also noteworthy were the too-cute-for-words packaging of just about anything, including seeds.

With all this sensory stimulation, we became quite hungry, so we plopped down in the Terrain cafe to feast on, what else, CHEESE. This is when I discovered SMOKE BLUE CHEESE.

I happened to love blue cheese. The stinkier, the better. This beauty combined the sharpness of a traditional blue with a smoked flavor. Imagine leaving your blue cheese on a mesquite grill. That kind of amazing. Plus, it was just the proper amount of softness (not too) to spread on sourdough bread that arrived in TINY FLOWER POTS. I was beside myself.

So while I try recreating flower pot bread this weekend, please take the time to recap February for yourselves. March is here, and we'll have more food-focused fun for you!

Oh, and I'll be in Puerto Rico on March 11. So don't bother me. Bother John, he likes it.

 

Wednesday
Dec282011

A Holiday Cheese Board

Or...um...cheese PEEL, as it were. I was hunting around Marmo's kitchen for a platform for my various fine cheeses purchased at Lucy's Whey at the Chelsea Market. Usually, I place these kinds of things atop my Brooklyn Slate, but not having toted it back to Iaciofano HQ, I was out of luck.

But LO! In the distance, there was a multitude of pizza peels! A Christmas miracle? Nope, just standard operating procedures in Marmo's kitchen. I grabbed one and went to arranging my cheese on it.

Yesterday, we talked about baked ricotta. Today, we are continuing with cheese in the hopes that this might aid you in your search for New Year's Eve/Day party eats.

As mentioned above, I took a stroll to Lucy's Whey in the Chelsea Market. This little nook of a store is a veritable cheese wonderland. I requested of one of the two cheesemongers some help in preparing my holiday cheese plate.

I should note that the other monger was dutifully assembling some kind of fabulous cheese and artichoke aioli sandwich on ciabatta bread. I stared at the sandwiches while I conversed with my helpful monger.

Me (staring at sandwiches): Hi! Would you be so kind as to help me put together a cheese plate for a holiday party? I want three different cheeses....something different, but definitely throw a blue in there.

Monger #1 (nodding in assent and scuttling around the refrigerated case knowingly): Sure.

Monger #2: Do you want a sandwich?

Me (It's 10am and I did have breakfast): No...I mean, yes, I always want a sandwich. But no, thank you.

Monger #1 (Handing me a sliver of a very milky cow/goat cheese blend): Try this!

And so it went on! I tore my eyes and stomach away from the sandwiches and selected three cheeses:

1. A wedge from a soft cow and goat milk blend. Similar to a Mt. Tam in consistency, slightly sweet and not overwhelmingly goaty – it paired well with some Castleton Maple crackers.

2. A beautiful aged cheddar with blue veins. This was sharp, but not powerfully so, with a touch of saltiness to contrast the smooth creaminess of the previous cheese.

3. A blue cheese. I would give this blue a 6 on the stinky scale. Wonderfully speckled with dots of blue, creamy and punchy, I threw this one on some charcoal crackers from The Fine Cheese Co. (incidentally some of my favorite food packaging around). Later on in the evening, I had more blue cheese for dessert paired with this cream sherry (a chocolate covered pretzel like wine and food pairing learned at the Astor Center).

I also threw in some grapes, a tiny canister of chestnut honey, and a sliced baguette.

Leftover cheese? Not a chance.

Friday
Nov112011

Wine, Cheese, Pizza – A Gastronomic Triple Play!

We are still in San Francisco. Are you with me? Good.

I had strategically planned my dinners in San Francisco around Una Pizza Napoletana. However, en-route to Una, we were sidetracked. By wine and cheese. And also these fabulous chalkboard sheep:

Mission Cheese is a tiny wine bar in the Mission district (aptly named!) of San Fran. Tiny but well stocked! Behind the natural wood bar are rows and rows of cheeses. Piled on top of each other in an orderly fashion, just waiting to be sliced up and placed on miniature cutting boards.

After some convincing (Kaz is slightly apprehensive of stinkier cheeses) we decided up on the Monger's Choice – which means we threw caution to the wind and allowed the monger to choose three cheeses that he thought we would like to eat. We were allowed to give him some guidelines (for example Kaz suggested nothing "too" stinky). We were presented with the following plate (accompanied by the selection of dried fruits, baguette slices and cornichons featured above):

The first cheese from the left was a goat cheese - smooth and silky wrapped in a leaf which gave it just a touch of earthiness.

The cheese on the right hand side was a mild blue variety. Soft for a blue, it was almost spreadable. To me, it was like butter with a kick and was my favorite. Even Kaz (stinky cheese averse) liked it.

The cheese in the middle I can't remember. This is very irresponsible food blogger behavior of me. And it could be because of this:

The Donkey and Goat Carignane from 2010. It was a recommendation from the bartender and a perfect one at that. It was a medium-bodied red with a cherry fruitiness. It also seemed like there was a touch of minerality that made it downright refreshing.

So refreshed we were, that we felt it was time for pizza.

I was living in Los Angeles at the time that Una Pizza Napoletana was located on the Lower East Side of NYC. Upon moving back to NYC, Una promptly left for San Francisco. I admit to taking it personally.

However, I was hell-bent on making up for lost time.

The scene is wide-open and airy. And very basic. This theme of simplicity is carried over into the "kitchen" which is essentially a baby blue wood-fired pizza oven in the center of the restaurant roped off by chains.

The prep table has just enough ingredients to make the following pies:

We selected the Margherita and, on the server's recommendation, the Filetti. Chef and owner Anthony Mangieri alternately wielded a long pizza peel and rocked a baby carriage from side to side. That's dedication if I ever saw it. Both to pizza and to his child.

Our Margherita arrived (also pictured above) with generous amount of tiny globs of fresh mozzarella, and a smattering of whole basil leaves all decorating a thin layer of crushed tomatoes.

I would like to begin with the crust. My description of the crust covers both pies. This is the most perfect crust outside of Naples that I have sunk my little teeth into.

Moist? YES.

A thin crispy layer dotted with extra crunchy char spots? YES.

Chewy but light and airy? Oh my yes.

Floppy but not falling apart? Indeedy.

And how about the way those blobs of mozzarella sunk made pockets in the crust (much like Homer Simpson's butt groove in his couch), creating nooks and crannies of flavor. It was like eating the surface of the moon, if the moon's terrain were moist and glazed with extra virgin olive oil.

I did find the tomato flavor a bit sweet, which I personally am not fond of. I prefer more tang to my tomatoes, so it felt a bit bland on my taste buds.

Next up was the Filetti, the easy winner of the two.

Halved cherry tomatoes were nestled lovingly in the crevices created by cheese and dough. Small pools of oilve oil collected in the around the tomatoes creating reseviors of happiness where the tomato juice mingled with the oil and the fat from the cheese.

And once again, I must draw your attention to the crust. Look at that form! I'm not sure Michelangelo ever etched anything in marble that was as beautiful as that crust.

We topped our pizzas off with two Neapolitan coffees – an espresso-like beverage, but a touch less intense.

Our beverages were served with some chocolates from Poco Dolce – a new brand for me. I became so excited by these chocolates that on a subsequent trip to Bi-Rite I raided their stores and brought home tins of the salted toffee and burnt caramel varieties.

My review would not be complete without a trip to the bathroom – for photos:

A very basic, but clean establishment, the bathroom was accented by a two pieces of framed art. These included Chef Anthony's tattoos hands forming a round of dough, and "Una Pizza Napoletana" in Copperplate calligraphy. A large vase of purple flowers offset the yellow walls quite nicely. And there were, of course, subway tiles – clean and white.

Overall Pizza Eating Experience: Heat

Mission Cheese
736 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA
415-484-6553

Una Pizza Napoletana
210 11th St + Howard St
San Francisco, CA 94103
415-861-3444