Behold Vermont Creamery’s St. Albans

St. Albans appeared on my stoop for Valentine’s. When I opened the door, it slipped into my house like a little fox. It’s quick like that, sleek too. Look at its velvet surface, the way it sleeps curled in its bed. Enchanting, isn’t it?

I have always loved how Vermont Creamery presents its cheeses. Credit cheesemaker Allison Hooper, goat-cheese diva (think Beyoncé of dairy), for turning American goat cheese into an aesthetic experience on many levels. You probably know her Bonne Bouche, which is packaged in wooden boxes, designed to mimic a cheese cave. The perforated wrapping allows air to flow around the cheese so it can breathe like a baby.

Why a cheese in a crock? (So you can bake it.)

St. Albans, Vermont Creamery’s newest cow’s milk release, comes in a crock — it’s inspired by the great French beauty St. Marcellin, from France, which is packed in a ceramic dish. Here’s why: the rind is so delicate, it cannot be transported any other way.

Here’s what’s really lovely: pop St. Albans into the oven, crock and all, and it melts into a luxurious mini fondue. Set out some crostini or boiled potatoes, and you have an elegant appetizer — or lunch for one. Baked St. Albans at your desk? Oh mercy, yesssss.

Here’s something else interesting about this foxy number: St. Albans is made with milk from cows raised on non-GMO grain. It’s part of Vermont Creamery’s recent company-wide commitment to buying milk from the purest sources. It’s not just a cheese, it’s a philosophy.

A Tea Pairing: Ruby Oolong

I invited my friend Alexis Siemons from Teaspoons & Petals to join me for a St. Albans lunch last week. I also asked her to bring a tea to pair, so we could play with a virtuous non-alcoholic pairing — I had been recipe-testing cocktails all week for With The Darlingtons and needed a time-out from my coupe glasses. Typically, I’d pair St. Albans with something bubbly, a dry sparkling wine or dry hard cider.

Alexis brought a pouch of organic Ruby Oolong, part of a new series of teas she has curated for La Colombe Coffee.

With long, luxurious notes of baked pears and a sustained floral finish, Ruby Oolong paired perfectly. To read more about Oolongs, check out this blog post by Alexis. In the meantime, try unveiling a little St. Albans on your coffee table some afternoon. Bake it at low temperature (I did 250 degrees) for about 10 minutes, then serve it with a cup of tea.

Where to Find: Check your local cheese counter or the cheese cases at Whole Foods and Wegmans. St. Albans is widely available.

What Else is New: I’ve got a Movie Night Menus Pop-Up Dinner at Martha in Philadelphia (2/21), and I’ll be at Philly Bierfest (2/25) in the cheese & cider room with a bunch of local cheesemakers offering samples!


Provolone Five Ways

January friends, the days are full of gray light. Chez Madame Fromage, I have been writing from dawn to dusk on a new project, finding solace in Provolone. Today, as I cut myself a slice and fished some Castelvetrano olives out of a jar, I fell into a little reverie. This Provolone was cracked open back in October. It was the centerpiece for the giant cheese board at the Cheese Ball! What a happy memory.

After the party, this giant Provolone — called a Mandorino due to its bulbous shape (think: Madarin orange) — was divided. And gifted. Three months have passed, and I am still gnawing. Surely, this gives you an idea of just how sturdy and enduring Provolone can be. It’s become a family pet. Did anyone let the Provolone out the fridge today?

If you are looking for a house-cat cheese — one you can keep for the next month and reach to for comfort — lean on this sturdy Italian. There are a thousand ways to enjoy sharp Provolone. I’ll tell you my fave five:

Aged Provolone, Red Wine, and Olives

So many people love to pair red wine with cheese, but it’s not easy. Bold reds often run rampant over subtle flavors in cheese. Aged (Piccante) Provolone has a sharp hook on the finish, making it a good pal for red wine, charcuterie, and olives. This week, I’ve enjoyed it with an Argentinian Malbec.

Provolone & Pepperoni Pizza

My neighbor Larry makes pizza every Friday, and about once a month I bring him a cheese from my stash. We’ve loaded his pies with everything from fresh burrata to herbed goat cheeses to funky slabs of Taleggio. One of my favorite combinations yet: this past weekend grated aged Prove over a red pie studded with spicy pepperoni and sweet onion. Divine. Try a mix of aged Prov, mozzarella, and a little Parm.

Ham, Provolone, and Pickle Melts

Since Prov melts so well, it’s terrific under the broiler on a sandwich. I like to load it onto sliced ham (or better yet, speck), some bread & butter pickles, and a swoosh of grainy mustard. It’s also terrific with smoked turkey and and onion jam.

Au Gratin Potatoes with Provolone

Provolone likes onions and herbs. It’s not a blank canvas, but it melds well with strong flavors, and curls up nicely against starches. I’ve got Honest Cooking’s recipe for Simple Herbed Potatoes Au Gratin with Provolone Cheese flagged for later this week.

Provolone, Grapes, and Smoked Almonds

Finally, for an easy desk snack at work: Cube that Provolone and toss it into a container with some green or red grapes, then pack in some smoked almonds. This combination of sweet, salty, and smoky travels with me everywhere — on airplanes, on trains, and most recently to the movie theater. Gool ol’ Prov even pairs well with popcorn, and it’s not bad with Milk Duds either.


How to Purchase Provolone: Go to a cheese shop and ask to sample it. If you live near an Italian specialty foods store, look for Provolone on a rope hanging from the ceiling. (In Philadelphia, you’ll find these at Di Bruno Bros. in the Italian Market.) Be sure to ask for Piccante Provolone, which has the most flavor. Store your Provolone in cheese paper (or wrap it in waxed paper, then tinfoil) so it can breathe but won’t dry out.

Interesting Fact: Provolone is essentially aged mozzarella. It’s a “stretched” cheese that is hung to dry and develop flavor. That’s why you’ll notices that the paste of this cheese pulls apart in thread-like clusters.



Breakfast Bowl with Cultured Butter, Bee Pollen, and Apple

For the New Year, I resolved to eat more good butter. Cultured butter! Have you ever tried it? It’s made from cream that has been fermented, similar to the way that yogurt is fermented. The process, which is as simple as pouring a little buttermilk into a pot of cream and letting it cure overnight, encourages flavors to develop in the milk. It’s rich, it smells buttermilky, it’s…the Champagne of butters.

You can make it yourself, as one of my students did this year (yielding beautiful results), or you can pick up cultured butter at the store — Vermont Creamery makes an exquisite French-style cultured butter. It’s easy to spot at places like Whole Foods because it’s sold in a little basket with a blue-and-white checkered paper cover. If you’ve never tasted cultured butter before, you will faint at its luxness. Vermont Creamery uses cream with higher butterfat (86%) — in line with traditional French butter — plus a pinch of sea salt. I once won a prize once for a batch cultured-butter brownies.

For this breakfast bowl, I used a local cultured butter from Valley Milkhouse. Divine.

I started with my new fave 8-Grain Hot Cereal from Bob’s Red Mill (not a plug, I am just a fan). It’s gluten-free and has a fine consistency I love, similar to cream of wheat. In addition to oats, it contains brown rice, millet, sorghum, and flaxseed. Very virtuous.

As a topper, I like to add all kinds of things, but today’s combination was particularly purr-worthy. The key is cultured butter. And I had a jar of Marisa McClellan’s Apple Cinnamon Caramel in the fridge from our recent joint post. Try her recipe, or substitute with apple butter or maple syrup.

Why bee pollen? I gave up morning coffee. Have to get my perk somehow!


Breakfast Bowl with Cultured Butter, Bee Pollen, and Apple

This recipe makes one serving but is easily doubled. It also reheats well. You can find bee pollen at farmers’ markets and health food stores.

  • 1/4 cup 8 Grain Hot Cereal (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 small apple, peeled and diced


In a saucepan, combine hot cereal ingredients over medium heat. Bring this goodness to a simmer, then drop on the lid, turn the flame to low, and let it cook about 10 minutes. Check it a few times to make sure it’s not burning on.

Pour it into a bowl (remove the cinnamon stick), add toppings, and gaze lovingly at the butter while it melts.


NEWS! I have a new sibling blog, With The Darlingtons, where I am sharing recipes from my new book, Movie Night Menus. Please consider checking out our new site and subscribing to our monthly newsletter.


New Year’s Cheese Board with Foodinjars

Meet Bucheron. He’s a handsome devil, isn’t he? A snowy log of goat cheese in a velveteen jacket. When he arrived on my stoop recently from Wisconsin, I invited him in to meet my good friend Marisa McClellan, cookbook author and blogger about all things canning at Foodinjars.

Marisa and I were having a toast. We invited Bucheron to join.

Allow me to present our pairing party: a collaborative cheese board that Marisa and I created with her spectacular preserves and caramel corn, along with a dreamy dairy cocktail from my book, The New Cocktail Hour.

We hope this this inspires you to host your own pairing party for New Year’s. Below, you’ll find our menu, along with a cocktail recipe for Guinness Punch, plus links to Marisa’s recipes.

A New Year’s Cheese Pairing Party 

By Marisa McClellan + Madame Fromage

Why These Pairings Work: High quality goat cheese should be grassy and bright, with a delicate tang — “yogurt-y” some people say. To create a pairing with it, swing toward tart preserves. That’s why cranberry matches so well, so do apples, and pomegranates. Marisa’s Apple Caramel is a splendid pairing — it’s the best apple preserve recipe I’ve ever tasted; imagine a pureed candied apple. Add a bowl of sweet-salty Honeyed Popcorn and a glass of Guinness Punch (which has a malty, chicory-like bass note), and you get an incredible flavor circle.

Apples Goat Cheese Caramel

Guinness Punch

This recipe serves 4. You can also find it in The New Cocktail Hour, written by yours truly + André Darlington. (Pssst…we have a new sibling blog called With The Darlingtons.)

  • 12 ounces (335 ml) Guinness or other stout
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup ice
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
  • Cinnamon, for garnish

Instructions: In a blender, combine stout, milk, condensed milk, and vanilla with ice. Pulse for 10 to 15 seconds. Serve in chilled rocks glass, and top with nutmeg and cinnamon.


Full Disclosure: Bucheron was mailed to me as a sample. This is not a sponsored post.


Cocktails and More With The Darlingtons


Drumroll please! Friends, my brother André and I are on the verge releasing our second book and starting a new cocktail column in Organic Life Magazine. I know, I know — you must be wondering: what about le fromage?! Don’t worry, Madame Fromage has been around for almost 8 years, and it’s not going anywhere. But, André and I have created a new enterprise: With The Darlingtons.

The tagline for our new site is “Muddling Cocktails and Culture.”

We’ve spent a lot of time over the last few months defining our vision for the future, one that encompasses both our passions. We hope you’ll sign up for our monthly newsletter and check out the blog we’ve created, along with a list of services. You can also hear us talk about it tomorrow at noon (EST) on Facebook Live via my MF Facebook page.

Win A Copy Of Our Book!

The latest and greatest news about our projects will be posted on With The Darlingtons, as will cocktail and food recipes, music and movie recommendations, giveaways and more! In fact, we’re kicking off the party right now! The first 300 IG followers of @WithTheDarlingtons will be in the running for a hot-off-the-press copy of “Movie Night Menus,” along with a “movie party” box we’ve curated.

Follow With The Darlingtons




Cheers, darlings!


Note: TCM’s Movie Night Menus drops from Running Press on Dec. 27, 2017 — in time for New Year’s Eve parties and The Oscars. You can pre-order copies now online and at stores where books are sold.