RUBINER'S CHEESEMONGERS & GROCERS
"I like to go to Rubiner’s Cheesemongers and Grocers. I go here for all my cheese and charcuterie supplies. The owner is Matt Rubiner and he is a very accomplished cheesemonger." CHEF ALFRED PORTALE/ GOTHAM BAR AND GRILL/ FIND.EAT.DRINK RECOMMENDATION
EXCERPTS FROM A POETIC CHEESEMONGER
We always look forward to receiving Matt Rubiner's newsletter, The Things We Carry, so we've chosen some of our favorite quotes and images below. See RUBINER'S CHEESEMONGERS & GROCERS online to sign up.
Baetje Farm Bloomsdale (Bloomsdale, Missouri)
Baetje Farm makes cheeses of goats milk, mainly, but sometimes of sheep milk or blends of the two. They are mostly very good. We have several this week: the pungent Fleur de la Vallée, the bloomy Coeur de Clos and the Bloomsdale, a little truncated pyramid based on the French Pouligny St. Pierre, but ripened with a different mold. My favorite is the Bloomsdale, but its window of ripeness opens and closes fast. It goes from flaky and austere to bitter and near flowing in a twinkling. But they're perfect now and will be for several days.
Bonfiglio Challah (Hudson, New York)
I will eat a whole challah, with honey, on Rosh Hashanah or any other day. I have specific requirements, though. The crust will be the dark color of polished mahogany. It will be crisp, a little, but still tender. The bread inside (what do they call that?) will be heavy and dense, moist and compressible, because when I was boy (and now) I would squeeze pieces into little balls or squares. And a little on the sweet side.
Rogue River Blue, Special Reserve (Central Point, Oregon)
We are graced with two rare wheels of Rogue River Blue Special Reserve, shown above in its brandy-soaked swaddling of grape leaves. They are very very good. Moister than Stilton and sweeter; firmer than Roquefort but as sweet.
Erhard’s Pflaumenmus (West Stockbridge)
Dark plums, sugar, cloves, ginger, allspice, juniper, cardamom, star anise, vanilla, cinnamon, pepper and bay, from the Master. Busy with spices but all in perfect agreement. Two batches, then it’s gone till next year.
Bellwether Farm Crescenza (Petaluma, California)
We’ve written so often about Bellwether Farm, and of their ricotta, their crème fraiche and their custardy sheep yogurt. And these we most often have. But we almost never have my favorite, the little moist pale yellow Crescenza. Petaluma is so far, and Crescenza so hates the trip. But this week we splurged. Rindless but for a thin skin that does little to restrain. Tart like yogurt, no firmer than a panacotta, and almost as sweet.
The Chèvres of Fall I’ve always liked chèvres of fall. Many prefer the spring cheeses, that come with the first grasses and flowers. But the fall cheeses seem richer to me, and sweeter. I don’t know if there’s merit to this.
Shown above, Couronne de Fontenay, from Rodolphe Le Meunier, who presided over my disappointing 6th-place finish in the 2013 Meilleur Fromager du Monde competition in Tours. My cheese sculpting skills were deemed poor by the judges.
FISH We have a single, whole wild Chinook "King" Salmon, troll caught off California. Actual fish shown above. Very impressive fish. Wow your friends.
Also, a couple angry lobsters, some haddock, a few sides of the same wild salmon and some mackerels, the second funniest of the fish (after herring, edging out trout).
FISH Hake has been superb, though it has an ugly face. Belons are my favorite oysters. Breams are stunning, if dear. And the sardines, oh the sardines, shown above in actual customer preparation (used without permission).
A perfect storm of equipment failure—water pressure gone awry disabling hot water and espresso machine, air conditioner motor burned out, melting chocolate and causing cheese case to overheat and succumb--leaves us pressed for time.
So we offer three Catalan cheeses, and some fish.
La Bauma Madurat
Rough-hewn, compact, stark white mold crusted baton. Deeply, piercingly goaty.
Squat goat milk wheel, moist and cakey, bound in soft grey mold, like mouse
Suau de Clua
Little goat milk puck mottled with pinks and tans and yellows. Meaty, earthy, very rare and accordingly dear.
Summer Winnimere, Jasper Hill Farm (Greensboro, VT)
A quick summer tease of Jasper Hill Farm’s cambium-strapped winter treasure. Just a few batches made in time for the American Cheese Society Competition, where I judged and where Winnimere acquitted itself very well. These wheels are very soft, not so much running. They hold a peak, like pudding. They are pungent, as one hopes, and bacony and piney.
Helix Escargot (Burgundy, France)
We’ve come into possession of some burgundy snails, in tins. I am no connoisseur of snails. I would eat rubber bands if they were soaked in melted butter and garlic. I have purchased these from a trusted old friend, but would like an independent assessment of their quality. Free tin to the first person who feels competent to render such an assessment.
Salumeria Biellese Pancetta Arrotolata (New York, NY)
We sell many Pancettas: rolled and flat, some saltier than some, some meatier than most. All excellent, artisanally crafted of historic breed pork. But usually I like the Salumeria Biellese best. Made from Berkshire Pork rolled and overzealously bound in twine and stuffed in a hog casing. More lightly cured, less lavishly salted, more fat than meat (or what's the fun?) but there's enough meat. If I’m eating it raw though, as I do, I prefer Dominic Palumbo’s.
Olympia Provisions Summer Sausage (Portland, OR)
Each Chanukah from 1968 to 1973 I asked my parents for a cheese and meat basket from the Sears Catalogue. Summer sausages, nut crusted cheese balls, etc. Though my taste at this stage was clearly undeveloped, my demonstrated early interest in cheese and meat gift baskets is a clear antecedent of my later professional interest in cheese and meat gift baskets, and will be useful to future scholars and biographers. Note each of my requests was denied. Anyway, these summer sausages are way better.
Mario Bianco Chestnut Honey, 2013 Vintage (Piemonte, Italy)
In ’94 I tasted the ’83 “vintage” of Mario Bianco’s fabled chestnut honey. The jar had been open for a decade, but it still flowed, if slowly and thickly, nearly black, treacly, musky and bittersweet. Three years later I traveled to Caluso, in Piemonte, to meet Mr. Bianco, the legendary apiarist, show above with his wards. We tasted chestnuts honeys of many vintages, and rhododendron and thyme, and we drank a bottle of sweet Erbaluce, made on the occasion of the birth of his son Andrea. And we spoke of the great ’83. Signor Bianco is gone now, so now we buy our honey from Andrea.*
Capperi di Salina (Isola di Salina, Sicily)
I’m a late onset caper lover. I knew only the “non-pareil” kind, chewy, searingly salty, inedibly bitter, that sit barely used in the doors of every fridge. But these are not those. From the Island of Salina, from where capers should come, they are cured in olive oil, so one tastes the caper not the cure.
Casa Madaio Barilotto di Bufala (Campania, Italy)
Another in this summer’s stampede of buffalo milk cheeses from the cellars of Casa Madaio: A buffalo milk ricotta salata so unlike all other ricotte salate. Salted of course (salata), but restrained in salt, perfectly silky and with the unmistakeable soft tartness of buffalo mozzarella. Crumble with fresh tomatoes, cut in rough chunks with watermelon, or grate coarse with a drizzle of oil, like Antonio Madaio, above.
Ayako & Family Jams (Seattle, WA)
Ayako Gordon makes jams in tiny batches from plums—damson and amber, beach and blue ribbon, china red and coral pink, friar, greengage and mirabelle—that she picks from the organic orchards of Mair Farm-Taki in the warm Eastern valleys of Yakima, Washington They are extraordinary.
Photo of Ayako by Sonja Lyon on Molly Moon Ice Cream’s blog. Used without permission, but with admiration.
WINE AND CHEESE SEMINARS
Matt Rubiner hosts public and private wine and cheese seminars. Please call for inquiries, and stay posted on his seminar calendar by signing up for his newsletter on RUBINER'S home page.
INTRODUCTION TO CHEESE The mysteries of cheese revealed! Matt Rubiner, the former 6th-ranked cheesemonger in the world*, will guide you through the history of cheese, from its apocryphal and now discredited goat stomach bag origins (and Hittites!) to modern day. All styles of cheese will be examined. Science too. *2013 Meilleur Fromager du Monde Competition, Tours, France
HOW TO DEAL WITH MATT RUBINER (and other cheesemongers) A guide to buying artisan cheese from the cheesemonger’s point of view. Explore topics like: how to order, how to taste, judging ripeness and condition, reckoning weight, secrets of the trade, cheese myths debunked, how not to irritate the cheesemonger and wrapping and home storage basics.
PECORINI: THOUGHTS AND MeweSINGS Get it? A thorough inquiry into The Cheesemonger's favorite cheeses (yes, just as my mother had a a favorite child). Explore Italy's great and ancient sheep milk cheeses heading south (figuratively) from Tuscany and into the sun of Sicily. Includes a bit of Chianti.
Located in a former bank building in Great Barrington, the shop features an extensive selection of cheese and cured meats, bread, dry goods, chocolate, eggs and more. Rubiner's Cheesemongers & Grocers 264 Main Street, Great Barrington
JULIE RUBINER VIDEO
Matt's wife, Julie Rubiner, commutes to New York City for her work with Eileen Fisher. This video, produced by Eileen Fisher, documents Julie and Matt at home in the Berkshires. LINK HERE