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|MAY 2009 • ISSUE NO. ONE|
• Interview: Farm House Natural Cheeses
• Bonnie Bea's Scottish Oatcakes
Just when you thought we couldn't be more European... Charelli's is going bag-free. As of August, we're axing the paper bags. We will have reusable bags you can purchase, but from now on, no more forgetting the bags in the car!
We will be closed Wednesday, July 1 for Canada Day.
Fol Epi Breads
Every 8th and 26th of every month 20% of all cheese sales are donated to support Vancouver Island Hospice.
THE FARM HOUSE NATURAL CHEESES
The Farm House Natural Cheeses has received international recognition and acclaim for its cheese - and we are lucky enough to have them in our own back yard. Nestled in the lush Fraser Valley, the farm has been run by Debra Amrein-Boyes, her husband and, as they were growing up, their children for over twenty years. As if they weren't busy enough, Debra has taken the time to provide us with thoughtful and beautifully descriptive answers to a few questions we had for them. They really are worth taking a moment to read! They are representative of the care and diligence that goes into making what are no doubt some of the best cheeses in the country - if not the world. Read the interview.
ITALIAN RAINBOW PASTA.
Picnic Suggestion #1: Rainbow Pasta Salad. There have been nothing but 'oohs' and 'ahhs' in the pasta aisle since we brought in an amazing selection of multi-coloured Italian carbohydrates. Long, twisted ribbons; jaunty, stuff-able caps; beautiful bow-ties and butterflies - the shapes are as varied as the all-natural, vegetable-derived colours. One of the first things people ask about is whether or not they keep their colour after boiling, closely followed by what kind of sauce to use. What could we do but research the situation? We had rainbow bow-ties with oil, garlic, scallions and jumbo prawns, with a heaping side of freshly grated parmesan. The colours became a bit more delicate as the pasta expanded, but remained very striking. The taste and consistency actually reminded us more of a light noodle than a hearty pasta - it was an excellent flavour carrier. It's not necessarily an every-day pasta (that would spoil the novelty) but it's really fun for any kind of special occasion.
Picnic Suggestion #2: Seasonal Berries with Crème Fraîche. So what is crème fraîche, exactly? It's something of a cross between sour cream and heavy, sweet cream. Technically, it's cream that has been lightly soured using lactic bacterial culture. Its origins are in Normandy and it's a pervasive ingredient in French finishing sauces, as it stays silky-smooth and won't break down with cooking. It lends itself equally well to sweet and savoury flavours: a quick scan of the internet turns up recipes ranging from Caramel and Crème Fraîche Sundaes with Cashews to Rye Crispbread Crackers with Pepper-Dill Crème Fraîche and Smoked Salmon. Generally, you can substitute it for heavy cream anywhere you want a more complex flavour, and you can substitute it for sour cream anywhere you want more velvety richness. Or, as mentioned above, dab a generous dollop or two over some fresh berries and enjoy it in its natural, creamy glory.
Picnic Suggestion #3: Cheese! Carmen's been at it again. We're pretty sure she has a pathological fear of shelves and coolers that aren't stuffed full to the point of breaking. This week we received silly amounts of cheese from Quebec. For those of you who read the weekend Globe, you'll be happy to know Grey Owl was in the shipment. For those of you who don't read the Globe, no, we're not talking about an avian stowaway, nor a politically incorrect paté. Grey Owl, pictured at right there, is a beautiful, ash-ripened goat cheese that was just given rave reviews by Sue Riedl in her Globe and Mail cheese column. It is, as you can see, grey and fluffy. Just like an owl. (It is also quite delicious.)
Other Quebecois cheeses included: the Oka-reminiscent Le Mont-Jacob and Le Blackburn from Fromagerie Blackburn; a bloomy, semi-soft sheep cheese - Fleur de Brebis - from Fromagerie le Détour; and a new release from La Fromagerie Champêtre - Le Bocké. Le Bocké is a semi-soft cheese lovingly bathed in amber beer for up to 40 days. The beer in question, La Bock de Joliette, is made by Quebec micro-brewery L'Alchimiste de Joliette; it imparts an earthy odour and the flavour of wild mushrooms. Now that's what we call washing a rind.
SENCE RARE EUROPEAN ROSE NECTAR
Picnic Suggestion #4: Roses and Bubbles. Sence Nectar is created using extracts of Kazanlak rose - a highly prized Bulgarian variety. The smell of blooming roses is heady and deliciously overpowering, making them and obvious base for perfumes and soaps. However, Turkish delight aside, the western palate tends to balk at flowers in our food. It was a pleasant surprise to find that this drink isn't perfume-y, nor heavy in the least. It's light and refreshing (and happens to be high in Vitamin C.) You could easily drink it, chilled, straight from its pretty bottle. But there's more fun to be had, both alcoholic and non. It's a beautiful addition to a flute of bubbly, and it blends particularly well with our local Victoria Gin, whose layered botanical infusion actually includes rose petals. For anyone pregnant or simply keen to rest one's liver while still enjoying something special, add a splash of sparkling water and an attractive glass and you're set. You can also heat rose nectar and drink it like tea - apparently Leonardo da Vinci did. Any way you decide to try it, the price - $6.55 - makes it an affordable as well as fun experiment.
SICILFRUTTI CHOCOLATE COVERED NOUGAT
Final Picnic Suggestion: A Little Something Sugary, Decadent and Delicious. Sicilfrutti is an Italian company that specialises in Sicilian sweets and the local flavours: citrus fruits, almonds, pistachios... Their products are hand-made following traditional Sicillian methods, and they only use raw materials from the surrounding region. We won't lie to you, this Nougat isn't cheap, but in this case you really get what you pay for: crunchy, sweet pistachios set in light, fluffy, ever-so-slightly chewy nougat that melts in your mouth... all dipped in chocolate. Does candy get any better?? This is an every-once-in-a-while indulgence, but if you've been exceptionally good, or your day exceptionally bad, treat yourself - you won't be disappointed.
INTRODUCING THE CHARELLI DOG Just joking - we only wish this was our mascot. Kind of. The Charelli Dog is how we console ourselves for not being able to lounge around and barbeque on warm summer afternoons. We've grudgingly decided to share the recipe with you, even though this will make us feel less special. So. First of all, toast one frankfurter until it's all split open and juicy. Fry up some sauerkraut OR generously slice one kosher pickle. Take one third of a soft, crusty Fol Epi baguette - add to it some spicy artichoke spread, mayonnaise and dijon mustard. Pile some three-year-old Canadian cheddar and/or cave-aged gruyere on top of that. Melt it. Put it all together. Yes. Oh, yes.
LAST MONTH'S WINNERS
THIS MONTH'S CHALLENGE