Oranges. The road from Catania airport to Ragusa was lined with orange groves bearing fruit of every size, shape, and hue. In some places the orchard floor appeared almost carpeted with its bumper crop of fallen fruit. With flowers in bloom everywhere, Sicily seemed to be in all its glory in January despite the cooler than normal European winter.
Moving south from the valleys surrounding Mount Etna, the landscape became drier and more desertlike, leaving behind the orange groves and vineyards in exchange for carob trees and giant prickly pear cactus laden with magenta-colored “figs.” Sheep and cattle grazed freely on sparse but green pastures.
At the age of six, when I was asked to identify my favorite cheese, the answer came effortlessly and without question: blue, and not just any blue—it had to be Roquefort.
I was at this age a recent transplant to the suburb of Harrison, New York, having just moved with my family from Ève, a quiet village northeast of Paris. I began attending a French-American school in the area, where other young émigrés like me often dwelled on the things they missed most. Apart from the snowball trees of my backyard, my list was almost exclusively culinary: rillettes, petit-suisse yogurts, and Roquefort.
Farinata is a classic soup from Italy in which a flavorful broth is thickened with polenta. The result is a hearty soup that warms your bones; our recipe is made a bit richer by chewy mouthfuls of Ossau-Iraty cheese from the French side of the Italian border.
Warm the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and sauté, stirring frequently, until they are tender and the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, kale, rosemary, and water. Bring to a boil.
Jennifer Lynn Bice never set out to be an award-winning cheesemaker. “I’m really into the goats,” she remarks, while petting the kids racing around her. “That’s why I have my business.” Her business, Redwood Hill Farm in Sebastopol, California, is a celebrated goat dairy and creamery in operation for more than 35 years.
Bice’s love of goats began when she was nine. Her parents had moved to Sebastopol from Los Angeles as part of the back-to-the-land movement of the 1960s. “They wanted to grow their own food and have animals,” explains Bice. In the process Bice started showing goats through 4-H. “We had a goat herd really quickly,” says Bice, “because all of us kids [she’s the eldest of nine siblings] got goats. They learn tricks like dogs, and you can dress them up and play with them.”
More than Milk
These bite-size morsels made from cream puff dough are typically flavored with an alpine-style cheese, but they can adapt to most any flavorful substitute, especially a bold blue cheese. To substitute for the Kiwi cheeses Schwass uses in this recipe, try Caveman Blue from Rogue Creamery and Midnight Moon from Cypress Grove.
A fat-tailed sheep of Middle Eastern origin, the Awassi is one of the world’s hardiest and best-producing breeds of sheep. Through centuries of natural and selective breeding, the Awassi became the ideal sheep for both the nomadic and the settled, agrarian cultures of southwest Asia, including the bedouin and fellahin shepherds of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Israel. Its breeders purport that this is the breed of sheep that existed when Jesus lived.
Cotija cheese is a salty, crumbly staple used in Mexican and Latin cooking, often as a topping, in the same way Parmesan is used in Italian cooking. The spiced pumpkin seeds can be made up to three days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Heat the oven to 325˚F. Toss the pumpkin seeds on a nonstick baking sheet with the butter, chili powder, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Bake, tossing twice, until toasted and crisp, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
At Verdé restaurant in Stratton, Vermont, Chef Thaddeus Buck serves Raclette-Style Savory Panna Cotta with Cèpes, Caramelized Onions, and Pickled Honeycrisp Apples—the genesis of this variation. These bite-size custards pack a punch of flavor, especially garnished by a light apple salad that cuts through the creaminess of the cheese and cream. Serve on a water cracker for easy snacking.
Who needs a party when it could be just you and your special someone? This tapas fondue set from Boska is tailored for two, with a square, seven-ounce-capacity earthenware pot that sits on a concrete base. A single tea light will keep your cheese warm, and handles on all four sides of the pot make transportation easy and safe. Each set comes with two forks for dipping.
This tiny ceramic import continues the Japanese tradition of making functional appliances in the likeness of adorable animals, in this case a bear less than eight inches high, whose head doubles as a fondue pot. A single candle acts as the heat source, hidden by the bear’s bright yellow shirt. Continuing with the youthful theme, the set’s three skewers are tipped with pink hearts.