• 29Jul

    Let’s rewind ten or fifteen years ago to my Quest for the perfect brie.  The Quest wasn’t for a blog article; it was because I loved food.  I purchased various brands from Costco, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods until I found the most delicious cheese on earth: a double-creme brie called Fromager d’Affinois. I’ve been gushing about it to my friends ever since.

    Rays of sunshine stream through the clouds

    The heavens agree: Saint Angel brie is a good choice

    So when dcfud asked me to review cheeses from Fromagerie Guilloteau, the family owned business that makes my all-time favorite cheese, you can imagine how much I bounced off the walls with excitement.  They let me try two different cheeses for free, and I loved their triple-creme brie so much that I couldn’t resist buying some for my parents when I visited them that weekend.  On my way back from Whole Foods—cheese in hand—I kept giggling because never before had the heavens parted as if to say, “excellent choice, Mark.” When I stopped at a red light, I had to capture the moment.  My parents loved it.

    Here’s the story behind this review.  On my way to work, I stopped at Murray’s in Grand Central Station in New York City.  As a purveyor of fine cheeses I thought they’d have a better selection than Whole Foods, who I already knew carried Fromager d’Affinois.  Luck was not with me that day, because d’Affinois was all Murray’s had.  Given my adoration for that cheese, I couldn’t just review it myself and toss journalistic integrity to the wind.  “But wait a second,” I thought.  “I have coworkers.”  Problem solved.

    A pound of double-creme brie

    A pound of double-creme brie

    Welcome to my office, toasted crackers and a pound of double-creme brie.  Don’t mind the lustful gazes from my colleagues.

     

     

     

    Later, as the brie was being demolished, here’s what everyone had to say:

    “I am not a brie expert, but I find it delicious”

    “It’s a good one. Not too strong. Not harsh. I like the crust actually.”

    “Very creamy. You can tell the difference between cheap brie and good brie. You can tell it’s not a cheap one. After a second helping I would say it’s not just creamy, it’s buttery.”  (she informed me that if she came back for thirds, I was to send her away)

    “Yeah, it’s double creme. A little nutty.”

    The guy with the most sophisticated palate—a Frenchman, as it happens—had the most critical feedback: “It’s good.  It’s definitely not a triple creme brie, but it’s good.”

    Not a triple-creme?  What is this heresy about my favorite cheese sullying my virgin ears!  This was the smoothest, sweetest, creamiest brie I’d ever had, and he dared scorn it as “just a double creme?”  The rind (white crust) on many bries is bitter or too strongly flavored.  Not Fromager d’Affinois.  It has a delicate flavor that will hook any cheese lover.  And it was being challenged.

    I did the only thing I could do.  After work, I went to Whole Foods and found Saint Angel, a triple-creme brie from Fromagerie Guilloteau.  Could I really tell the difference?  Is a triple-creme that much better?

    An hour later, I found myself in a molten puddle of cheesy ecstasy.  I’m dairy intolerant, but I ate it anyway.  It was worth it.

    Triple creme brie Saint Angel

    Stock photo (and it’s gorgeous) of the triple creme brie Saint Angel

    From the first nibble, I couldn’t believe how silky and smooth Saint Angel is.  The mouth-feel was so good that I ate it plain.  This cheese is so decadently buttery that I wish I’d known about it as a kid.  Back then, I used to saturate my corn on the cob with fresh slabs of salted butter.  Broccoli got the same treatment because butter is delicious.  Saint Angel would have been a perfect addition.  A purist would kill me for saying this, but it’d be good with spicy chicken wings, too.  Dear purists: marry this brie to your favorite French baguette.  You’ll love it too.

    Where does this leave us?  It leaves me with a new favorite brie and several variations of Fromager d’Affinois to tease me:

    • Garlic and mixed herbs
    • Truffle (I’m told this is especially good)
    • Pepper
    • Florette (made from 100% goat’s milk)
    • Brebicet (made from 100% sheep’s milk)
    • Campagnier (rind tinted with annatto and promises of subtle fruity flavors)
    • Bleu (or Saint Géric, which is the triple-creme version of this bleu cheese)

    What about you?  Care to join me? :)

    –Mark Feghali (MFF)

  • 18May

    Congratulations to Dimitri Moshovitis of Cava Mezze who won 3 awards (Best in Show, People’s Choice, and Best Latin) at the DC Lamb Jam last night! His dish was a lamb shoulder half smoke with mustard tzatziki on a brioche bun. It was fun being a judge at this event!

    -JAY

  • 17May
    img_20150515_181435516_hdr

    Wonderful French Master Butcher, Marc Pauvert from Spring House Farm in Lovettsville, VA Working on a Whole Lamb!

    Last chance to buy tickets for tonight for DC’s Lamb Jam.

    -JAY

  • 16May

    Wonderful food industry people who create extremely tasty products:

    -JAY

     

  • 15May
    20150422_213638

     

    Dessert For Two, a cookbook by Christina Lane, is such a wonderful and charming creation. This book is perfect for anyone who has a sweet tooth or loves someone who has a sweet tooth. The recipes in this book are mouthwatering cookies, puddings, miniature pies, tarts, cakes, popscicles, snacks and candies. The photography in the book is stunning and the writing has a great conversational feel. The recipes are deliciously evil but through Lane’s hard work of scaling down recipes, the risk of “accidentally” eating a dozen cookies disappears. As someone who struggles with poor willpower around sugar, I appreciate this. I also appreciate that Lane makes suggestions about bakeware (like getting adorable six inch pie tins and miniature loaf pans), but has alternative solutions if you find yourself living with a small kitchen that lacks miniature bakeware. I love the idea (as pictured on the cover of the book) of baking a miniature pie using a mason jar band as a pie tin.

    I tested three recipes. The first was a biscuit bread pudding with whiskey sauce. My husband is a bread pudding freak and he said that it was the best that he’s ever had. I’m not as passionate about bread pudding as he is, but this is the recipe that turned me into a bread pudding person. It is very easy to make  and you can use day old biscuits, which you can either make yourself or buy pre-made. I used refrigerated biscuit dough and made biscuits from that and it turned out beautifully.  It is sweet and rich and the recipe really makes enough for three generous servings. It is a gooey, sweet and decadent dish. Because it does not have eggs, the sauce is clear and is easier and faster to make than a creme anglaise.

    I also made the Pumpkin cupcakes with bourbon buttercream frosting. I got six cupcakes out of the batter and frosting rather than the four listed in the book. The cake itself is really good, and is moist with an interesting blend of spices. It is subtly sweet and spicy; I’d totally eat the cupcakes un-iced as a muffin. The buttercream frosting is very sweet, but it balances very well with the cake. These cupcakes were so delicious.

    Last but not least, I made the Salted Butterscotch Pudding Pops. I made them with Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract, which is my new favorite baking product.  This recipe makes amazing pudding that you can then turn into popsicles, or just eat as pudding. The recipe made enough for over four popsicles, and I had a mold for four popsicles, so I ate the extra pudding while it was still warm (it was really good). The popsicles were also quite tasty. My husband gave his seal of approval on the pops as well. This recipe is quick and easy, and makes a great summer treat.

    -JHC (Jennifer)

  • 23Apr

    Gluten-free baking in past years can be compared to trying to mix highly combustible materials. It has required such an accomplished hand utilizing a precise mix of ingredients to achieve an edible, tasty result. It therefore has been viewed as a completely intimidating task that many would rather steer clear from. However, with new products coming on the market each day, gluten-free baking might finally be more approachable for the amateur.

    I recently attended a gluten-free baking class hosted by Delight editor Vanessa Maltin Weisbrod. This particular event was sponsored by the Children’s National Hospital to raise awareness for their Celiac Disease Program and was kindly hosted at Wildfire Restaurant in Tyson’s. As usual, the food was fantastic and was accompanied with a surplus of great information. I would definitely consider the night a huge success.

    I have to say there is no one who is better informed about gluten-free cooking, baking or products than Vanessa. My head was spinning by the end of the evening, but I left feeling like I could conquer the world in my kitchen going forward. She provided us with slide after slide explaining the components of gluten-free flour blends and why certain flours are better for different kinds of baking rather than others. She also gave us tips on different substitute fats you could use to add moisture to your baked goods. My main takeaway is it is crucial to educate yourself about your ingredients and their consistencies and what other alterations you might need to make to a recipe to compensate.

    For instance, I learned that coconut flour is a great flour to use for baked goods, but you may need to use less sugar and add additional liquid for best results. I also learned the benefits of sorghum flour and how it has a smoother texture perfect for use while making pancakes and flatbreads as well as baked goods with a more bread-like consistency.

    Tapioca flour is apparently great as an additive for binding in gluten-free baking and works well to create crisp crusts and as a thickener for sauces. It has a sweet and starchy taste and is best combined with other flours like quinoa and brown rice flour. You should again use less sugar to compensate for the sweetness already present in the tapioca flour.

    As for the all-purpose baking flours on the market, I learned that is really crucial to read the listing of flours included. For instance, some blends are higher in starchy flours like brown rice and tapioca. Others are a blend of high proteins like millet, chickpea and amaranth. You need to be mindful of these blends when you purchase because they will have an effect on the baked good you are creating. The best blends should have a decent balance of both the higher starch and high protein flours to keep your baked good moist. You also want to make sure it has either guar or xanthan gum included as a binder.

    Overall, knowledge really is power. Gluten-free baking can be fun and rewarding once you become more comfortable. Instead of an intimidating challenge, I’ll now view it as an experiment to learn. For further information about the class I attended or future opportunities to attend yourself, feel free to contact me at Joyana [-at-] glutenfreenova [-dot-] com.

    -JPM

    Wildfire on Urbanspoon

  • 23Mar

    Norwegian Ambassador’s Executive Chef, Mr. Sindre Risvoll!

    We were in attendance at a recent Norwegian seafood reception at the temporary residence of the Norwegian Ambassador. The event was created in cooperation with the Norwegian Seafood Council. In attendance were members of the Norwegian seafood industry and their clients (including a Fairfax based Asian supermarket with a great seafood department). (Asia is a huge market for Norwegian seafood.)

    The reception featured phenomenally fresh and delicious Norwegian seafood in Asian preparations. It even was talking to a fisherman whose boat probably caught the mackerel I was eating at the time.

    We were happy to finally try Nøgne ø‘s Sake, since we tried their wonderful beers at a previous Norwegian event a few years ago.

    -JAY

  • 15Aug
    IMG_20140815_151533_602

    CSA box production line. The ones with kale on top are complete.

    Groupon has  a certificate (which they are almost out of so move quickly) that lets you get a produce box from Nall’s (Friday or Saturday) for $12 ($22 value). I just picked up this week’s box, which includes peaches, nectarines, 2 bunches of kale, mushrooms, 4 large green bell peppers, 3 huge peaches, 3 small nectarines, 2 ears of corn and a canary melon. They handled my mushroom allergy by making a box up for my separately and substituting a teeny loaf of bread.

    I will say that 4 big green bell peppers is a lot of green peppers for me–a variety of pepper colors would have been nicer. I have no intention of making stuffed peppers, so some of them may go bad before I can eat them in salads or put some in this or that dish.

    I also bought strawberries, yellow summer squash, a large yellow tomato, and a bottle of Runningbyrd Summer Rain local artisinal sweet tea. I buy a watermelon there weekly, and they have a good variety of them.

    Nall’s has 2 weeks left of the weekly summer CSA program before the fall program begins.

    -JAY

  • 10Aug

    DC Food Blogger Happy Hour Wednesday was hosted by Wendy Brannen of USApples and myself at Roofers Union in Adams Morgan (in the former space of The Reef). We sampled a variety of Executive Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley‘s delicious apple themed dishes and a great cocktail Bartender Frank Mills created. Frank named the cocktail “How Do You Like Dem Apples” and provided us with the below recipe (for an individual cocktail):

    -JAY

    Roofers Union on Urbanspoon

  • 17Jul

    USApples has a weekly selfie (with an apple) contest. Two weeks ago, a photo of a guy in a cubicle with an apple on his head won a Dizzy Pig‘s gift pack. My picture of a pirana attacking me while I was eating an apple won last week, so today I was happy to find a box of Brooks Tropical‘s fruit at my door. In the box was a lime, SlimCado, dragon fruit, and red papaya.

    Next week’s prize is a Tajin seasoning gift pack. Having tried Tajin’s seasonings, I recommend entering the contest.

    Tajin Seasoning Gift Packs
    Tajin Seasoning Gift Packs

    Weekly deadlines are the next five Sundays. The contest rules are here.

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

    -JAY

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

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