May 1 Book Party on Headhouse Market

Tenaya with Cocktail at Twisted TailIn planning for the release of my new book this spring, I’ve been searching for a way to bring together all of my favorite things: cocktails, farmers’ markets, and — of course — cheese. When I learned that the opening of Philadelphia’s Headhouse Market coincided with the week of my book release, a vision emerged for a market-centric book party at The Twisted Tail!

We’re calling it…

An Homage to Fromage: A Farm-to-Glass Cocktail and Cheese Tasting 

  • Sunday, May 1, 2016, noon- 2 p.m., tickets $45 (book included)
  • Reservations 215.558.2471 or
Photo by Jason Varney

Photo by Jason Varney

Proprietor George Reilly and I will pluck the first spring herbs from Headhouse Market and gather the tastiest local cheeses. You’ll enjoy a flight of 3 show-stopping cocktails from the book, like the Flutterby Lassi (pictured), along with a glorious cheese board. Sit back and let us show you how to fix a great cocktail using market inspiration, plus taste 5 delicious cheeses you can use for spring entertaining.

I can’t wait to celebrate the publication of The New Cocktail Hour and introduce you to one of my new favorite brunch spots, The Twisted Tail. If you’ve never eaten at this southern-inspired Bourbon bar located next to Headhouse, consider this a chance to explore the restaurant’s cheese-centric brunch menu, which includes a trio of mac’n cheeses, along with the most etherial ricotta donuts I’ve ever tasted. They are feather light, served with warm caramel.


Big shout-out to Katelyn Repash of Greensgrow Farm for introducing me to brunch at The Tail (I’m partial to the Tasso Ham Benedict, below). I look forward to seeing you all there very soon! Tasso Ham BenedictMac and Cheese at Twisted Tail

In the meantime, if you’re looking for someplace to enjoy cheese and cocktails, check out The Tail’s fabulous selection of cheeses on the chalkboard below. You’ll see two of my biggest heart throbs, Vulto Creamery Ouleout (from NY) and Von Trapp Farmstead’s Oma (from VT).

Cheese Board at Twisted Tail

You know I love to support anyone who carries American whey! Three bits of trivia worth knowing:

  1. The Twisted Tail offers live music 6 nights a week (check the calendar)
  2. British proprietor George Reilly is obsessed with southern cuisine. And he plays blues guitar.
  3. There are blues dancers on Sunday evenings. An excuse to shake it and eat blue cheese?

Madame Fromage on Steps of Twisted Tail

For more book signings and tastes, please check my Events Page.

Book Trailer: The New Cocktail Hour

Dear Ones, at last I have something to show you from my sequestered life as a cocktail nun these last two years. My next book, The New Cocktail Hour, will be out on April 26 from Running Press, the same publisher (and the same incredible photographer!) I worked with for The Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese. I hope this book trailer gives you a much-deserved glimpse behind the scenes. Come into my living room, meet my brother and co-author André Darlington, and join us in the photography studio with Jason Varney.

Cover Image.The New Cocktail HourI want you to know that I lobbied very hard to write a cheese and spirits book. Alas, this is a book about spirits — with lots of cheese pairings. If you, like me, enjoy a little something on the rocks or in a coupe with your cheese board, you won’t be disappointed here. Watch the trailer, and let me know what you think. Thank you for your eyes and your enthusiasm!

I’m working on book tour dates. Stay tuned!


Gratitude: Huge thanks to Aimee Knight (@aimeeknight) for creating this video!

A Goat Cheese and Cocktail Book Giveaway

VC Cocktail and Cheese Board 2If you’re anything like me, you are starting to dream about spring goat cheese. Philadelphia has been cloudy and cold — total cheddar weather — but the iphone forecasts birds, and Instagram brought a crocus this week. To stave my hunger for all things bright and beautiful, I took a break from editing a new manuscript last week to fix a pair of pre-Prohibition cocktails from the new book (another thing April will bring!) to pair with some Vermont goat cheeses I love dearly: Cremont, Bonne Bouche, and Bijou.

Vermont Creamery is featuring these cocktail recipes on their blog this week, and they’re running a special giveaway! The prize: a copy of my forthcoming book, The New Cocktail Hour, plus a basket of these stunning goat cheeses so you can try these pairings at home. Here’s the link to enter.


What are these gem-like cocktails and why pair them with cheese?

Aviation (purple): Made with gin, lemon, and a touch of creme de violette, this cocktail tastes like morning sun on spring violets. The first time I made this drink in my kitchen, I wanted to pair it with a French goat cheese rolled in something…lavender, I thought, or rose petals. That might be too much. With ashy Bonne Bouche, this drink is the perfect late-winter pairing, redolent of minerals and new buds.

Bijou (pale green): Made with Chartreuse, this drink tastes like a monastery garden. The herbal intensity is rounded out with gin, Dolin Blanc vermouth, and orange bitters. Dry, aromatic, and wild, it’s perfect for a small, lush round of goat cheese like Bijou.

Please have a look at The New Cocktail Hour — Amazon will let you peep! I am working on a post all about how this book came together. I’m very proud of it, and I hope it will help you explore new pairings, like herbaceous spring cocktails and goat cheese.


An EVENT with Max McCalman

If you live in Philadelphia, consider joining me at Fork on Sunday, March 6 at 5:30 p.m. for a tasting of natural wines and cheese with author and maitre fromager Max McCalman. I will be a participant, not a presenter. We can toast! Reservations ($50): 215-625-9425.

Events: Eating Words, Philly Chef’s Conference, and Brewer’s Plate

Brewer's Plate Cheese and BeerDear ones, you’ve probably noticed that my posts are taking longer than usual to set. Thanks for your patience. I’ve been in a curd blizzard of book projects. If you’re confused, let me explain — I’ve been working on not one but TWO new books that will come out in 2016: The New Cocktail Hour (April 2016) and Movie Night Menus (November 2016). Both are driven by cocktails…but, of course, you’ll find plenty of cheese.

March 1 is my last big deadline, then I’ll be ready to emerge from my writing cave and play in the whey with you. Can we still be friends? Here are 3 upcoming events in Philadelphia where you can be sure to find me:

Eating Words: Edible Philly’s 1-day Conference for Food Writers (Feb. 27)

I’ll be moderating a panel (2:25-3:10) called “Cookbooks 101” with author Marisa McClellan of Foodinjars, editor Tiffany Hill of Quirk Books, and cookbook literary agent Clare Pellino from Profile.

Philly Chef’s Conference (March 6-7)

Held Sunday and Monday at Drexel University’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management, this conference is a great way to meet the Philadelphia food community, from chefs and bartenders to writers and bloggers. This year’s special guest will be — be still my heart — Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking. (Friends, you know I keep this book by my bedside.)

Brewer’s Plate (March 13)

Fair Food Philly returns to the Kimmel Center for its much-anticipated festival of beer and food pairings. If you’re looking for exquisite cheeses, beer ice cream floats, and more — this is the place for you! Of the many food events in Philadelphia, this glorious bacchanal seems to offer the most dairy.)

Oh, oh, there’s so much more to tell you about come April! Get ready for a cheese and cocktail party to kick off the first day of Headhouse Market AND the city’s first-ever curd festival. More soon!




Montgomery’s Cheddar Meets a Scotch Cocktail

Mark Twain and MontgomerysHave you ever nibbled a morsel of clothbound cheddar and considered pairing it with a cocktail? Until about a year ago, I used to reach for a nut brown ale or a grapefruit-y IPA. Perfectly acceptable. And delicious. Especially for a ploughman’s lunch. But lo, then I sipped a Mark Twain.

A Mark Twain is a cocktail made with Scotch, lemon, and bitters — and when I tasted it, after reading Mark Twain’s account of it in a letter to his wife back in 1874 — I whispered, “Oh, yes. Oh yes yes yes.” And then I went to the crisper and withdrew a bit of Montgomery’s cheddar to let it relax on the counter.

I could taste the pairing in my mouth before I ate them together. The cocktail was bright, a little man-spicy (thanks to those bitters that smell, to me, a bit grandfatherly), with a touch of musty earth from the Scotch. A good clothbound cheddar is, in a word, a grandfatherly cheese: it conjures tweed — slightly damp and musty — but also sweetness, nuts, and citrus zest.Montgomerys Cheddar and Scotch Cocktail

Surely, I thought, such a pairing deserves a special pair of people to enjoy it!

And so, I offer this pairing as a Valentine’s pick for Kim Duty of Cheese+Provisions in Denver, who pre-ordered a copy of The New Cocktail Hour for her partner, Steve. Kim and Steve, may you steal away somewhere secret and enjoy Mark Twain and Montgomery’s Cheddar together with a side of Tom Sawyer.

“Here was a gorgeous triumph; they were missed; they were mourned; hearts were breaking on their account; tears were being shed . . . This was fine. It was worth being a pirate, after all.”

Tom Sawyer, Chapter 14, pg. 91

Mark Twain Cocktail

Mark Twain Cocktail

2 ounces Scotch (Dewar’s or Famous Grouse)

3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

1 ounce simple syrup (see below)

2 dashes of Angostura bitters

lemon peel, for garnish

Instructions: Shake Scotch, lemon, simple syrup, and Angostura with ice. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. To garnish, twist the peel over the surface of the cocktail to express the oil. Then, drop the peel into the drink.

Simple syrup: combine equal parts sugar and water in a small jar. Shake until the sugar dissolves. I like to use Demerara sugar (or sugar in the raw), which is best dissolved in hot water. Let the syrup reach room temperature before making a drink.

Montgomery's Cheddar

Look at this gorgeous raw-milk hunk from Somerset!

Want Madame Fromage to pair a special cocktail with your favorite cheese? Pre-order a copy of The New Cocktail Hourand send the receipt to, along with the name of your favorite hunk.