Big is a small word that succinctly describes the role cheese mecca Murray’s Cheese has played in Rob Kaufelt’s life. The relationship began in 1991 when Kaufelt — badly in need of a job after a failed New Jersey business venture and divorce — moved to Greenwich Village looking to start over. He got his big break when, by chance, he was standing in Murray’s Cheese and learned that New York’s oldest cheese store had recently lost its lease and owner Lou Tudda was thinking of returning to Italy.
While the average, mass-produced American butters contain about 80 percent butterfat and aren’t particularly distinctive, French butters are required to have at least 82 percent butterfat, a maximum of 16 percent water, and 2 percent vitamins, carbohydrates and minerals. Although the difference is a mere 2 percent, the higher fat content found in French butter serves to create a final product that has a richer taste and a more malleable texture.
It wasn’t sisters lynn giacomini stray, Diana Giacomini Hagan and Jill Giacomini Basch’s intention to return to the family farm where they grew up in Northern California’s West Marin. But it makes plenty of sense that they did end up here — Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. is a sort of magical place. The farm is about 40 miles north of San Francisco, perched on Tomales Bay, which opens dramatically onto the Pacific Ocean. In the morning, the pristine air becomes dense with the Pacific coastal fog that settles over and lightly salts the pastures of the Giacomini dairy. The ocean views are stunning, and rye grasses grow tall.
The folks in houston are serious about food, really serious. And the city, the fourth largest in the country, just received some long overdue recognition; Anthony Bourdain recently came to town to film an episode of his popular television show.
CHEESE CONNOISSEUR: Is Cognac considered a type of brandy? And what are the different types and production techniques?
RON KAPON: Cognac is both a spirit and a place. It is produced only in the Cognac region, which sits on the banks of the Charente River about 200 miles southwest of Paris and north of Bordeaux, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. This spirit must be made of a blend of specific grapes, most notably Ugni Blanc, also known as Saint-Emilion. It must be double distilled in copper pot stills, and then, by law, aged in French oak barrels at least two years, although most Cognac are far older. Some types are cured up to 40 or 50 years in oak. What’s unique is that all Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac.
When I arrive at Sprout Creek Farm in New York’s Hudson Valley just outside of Poughkeepsie, it’s snowing for the first time this season. The grey sky blankets the farm’s rolling 200 acres with gentle white flurries. The last of fall’s vibrant foliage blazes from the trees. It’s gorgeous here.