About a 45-minute drive west of Philadelphia or a little more than two hours from New York’s Penn Station by Amtrak, the hamlet of Downingtown, PA, along with nearby villages, is a gemlike enclave in western Chester County. Seemingly worlds away from the hustle of metropolitan life, the rolling hills traced by winding roads are shared with Amish buggies. No one seems hurried.
We don’t have to tell you that Mozzarella di Bufala is a miraculous food. One bite of its milky, sweet, pure, gooey, silky perfection is all it takes to convert chefs, diners, consumers and foodies.
Celebrated wine aficionado, Ron Kapon, who is known in wine circles as the Peripatetic Oenophile — the traveling wine expert — answers questions that Cheese Connoisseur readers have asked.
This issue’s cover story on David Gremmels, president of Rogue Creamery, is compelling, partially because David is fascinating, partly because it reveals the complexity of making great cheese, which is engrossing, and partly because the specifics of his story — southern Oregon, organic, a “world’s finest mission,” pears, Syrah grape leaves, etc. — are just so emotive and so rooted in a time and place. These all play into the definition of terroir that goes beyond environmental factors to incorporate the cultural and business eco-system in which a cheese is produced.
David Gremmels is at home in many arenas, a renaissance man with wide-ranging interests and expertise: from 1950s Beat Art to long distance cycling, from fine woodworking to vintage trucks and German Shorthair Pointers.
One of the more interesting aspects of living in Bra, Italy is the food. You might call it a gastronomic microclimate – the Braidese are accustomed to a certain quality of cuisine. There are supermarkets, yes and even discount stores; it’s hard to avoid them; yet this small provincial town of 30,000 has a disproportionate number of butchers (11) as well as numerous bakeries, specialty stores, cafés and restaurants. It is incredibly hard to eat badly around here – you have to go out of your way to do it. For all the beautiful castles and mountains that dot the countryside, it’s food and wine that draws people into this pocket of Italy.
In Delphine Carles’ first memories of Roquefort cheese, she’s following her father around a drafty limestone cave, one of the many that naturally occur in the rugged, dolomitic rock of France’s Mont Combalou. At 1,970 feet above sea level in the country’s southern Massif Central, this intricate network of caverns has earned global renown as the only place in the world Roquefort cheese can be aged. The esteemed sheep’s milk Blue — a staple on holiday cheese plates and one of France’s most popular cheeses after Brie and Comté — can only be made by seven approved cheesemakers, and Delphine is one of them.
For more than six years, serious foodies have been making their way along the windy country roads of Chester County, PA to Coventryville, a tiny hamlet in this rural area rich in early Americana. Rather than coming to explore historical sites and memorabilia, however, these travelers come to dine at La Maison, the charming 1717 stone and stucco home of Janet and Martin Gagné, where each Friday and Saturday night chef Gagné prepares a stellar seven-course country French dinner. His genial wife, as maîtress d’, greets guests and oversees the family-style service at each table. On Thursdays, a lighter five-course supper is served.