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March Wine & Cheese Pairing

Saint Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone and Gruyere

We’re back! It’s been awhile since we’ve teamed up to choose a cheese and wine pairing for the Kiva’s blog! This month’s tasting team is comprised of Ziggy, the Kiva’s winebuyer; Kazar, Cheesebuyer and Wine Department; and Janet, who works with Supplements and Housewares.

The wine we chose is Saint Cosme 2013, a Syrah from France’s Cotes-du-Rhone region, a major player in the French wine trade. It’s a large region with many different terroirs. According to the winemaker’s notes, St. Cosme is grown in soil with “limestony sands, red clay, and rolling stones.”

rhone_sud_saint_cosme_cotes_du_rhone_rouge_2012

Ziggy says:

While I’m not sure about the rolling stones, there is a nice mineral component of this wine. St. Cosme has a lovely nose with hints of charcoal, cooked blackberries, and dusty Mediterranean herbs. The mouth was silky and nimble; it drinks like a light wine but has a medium body. The blackberry and herbal notes come through on the palate, with spice, pepper, and a clean mineral edge. The tannins are light and soft. The wine delivers plenty of fruit with just a hint of bitterness that is desirable in a table wine.

Gruyere, an aged, raw-milk cheese from Switzerland, is technically a Swiss cheese, but a very different critter than what we usually refer to as “Swiss cheese,” best known for its eyes (or holes) such as Jarlsberg, Emmenthaler, and the familiar American version of these whose mellow and rubbery presence is featured on many a ham sandwich.

ClassicGruyere_340x356

I, for one, don’t much like most Swiss cheese. I find its flavor flat, like a soda that has lost its fizz. Gruyere, on the other hand, is one of my favorites as an all-around wine cheese. Its smooth texture–a little like chocolate in the way it melts luxuriously on the palate–is sometimes enhanced by a few crystals in the paste, and its sweet/salty/rich/nutty flavor, seem to go well with many, many wines, especially dry French reds. Common culinary uses for Gruyere include fondues and a traditional topping for French onion soup.

Gruyere is creamy & nutty when young, becoming more assertive, earthy, and complex with age (typically aged from 5 to 10 months). We tried two varieties of Gruyere, Emmi, aged in the standard fashion in a climate-controlled cellar, and Mifroma, aged traditionally in a cave for 11 months. The milk for both of these cheeses comes from sustainably-raised cows pastured on grass in the summer and fed hay in the winter, lending a subtle herbal note to the cheese.

Emmi is sweet, mild, rich, firm, and savory. Its flavor is stronger near the rind with a bit of barnyard funk. It’s delicious as part of a cheese plate or in any recipe which calls for Gruyere.

The Mifroma has a slightly drier paste and is subtler, stronger, more buttery and a bit less sweet, with more crystals to add contrast to the smooth texture. The more complex flavors emerge as you chew.

The vivid contrast of the dry, herbal wine with the sweet, unctuous cheese brings out the rich berry notes of the St. Cosme and downplays the (nicely balanced) acidic and bitter factors. The wine, with its clean finish, refreshes and resets the palate.

There’s an old saying in the wine trade,”buy on fruit (or bread, or water, or even carrots) and sell on cheese.” The former tend to make the taster’s palate clear and crisp, which helps accentuate any defects in the flavors of wine. Cheese, on the other hand, brings out rich and mellow notes in wine and helps disguise its shortcomings (and therefore makes it easier to sell). The St. Cosme, which is interesting and nicely balanced, has no need of cheese to downplay any faults, but cheese can also enhance and elevate beautiful wines.

St. Cosme would be appropriate in many food applications, particularly with cheesy and savory herbal dishes, and is a good value for its reasonable price.

Kazar says:

The sweet & salty, sharp quality of the cheese balanced nicely with the delicate, tannic, dark fruit of the wine. The subtlety of flavor the wine possessed created a pleasing foundation; the cheese pierced through to rich and full heights on the palate.

Janet was moved to poetry:

The Mifroma Cave-Aged Gruyere has a nutty flavor and texture which slowly releases its complexity, and then lingers sweetly on your tongue.

As you sip and swallow that almost buttery wine while the cheese is dissolving you realize how that delicious and delicate blend of wine and cheese blend like fruit in a pie shell, balance each other with a feeling of togetherness.

A delicious and delicate balance of wine and cheese that blends like

An onion and tears

A pear and peanut butter

A banana in a smoothie

Like soil and rain

As the sunrise over the mountain through the sky

Like chocolate upon the tongue

Like a river flows into the ocean

Like a dancer on the floor

Like a wind in the woods.

Our Neighbors Know How to Party

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We love being a neighborhood market! The customers we see every week, every day, are special and important to the Kiva.

It was an extra treat when some of our longtime neighbors showed special appreciation for us! In June all the staff of the Kiva was invited to a tea party hosted by the residents and staff at Olive Plaza.

We had a great time, taking turns to walk across the street and celebrate, and enjoy some very excellent food, drink and even door prizes!

We’re feeling pretty lucky. Thank you to all of our friends and neighbors–and especially to the folks at Olive Plaza! Your hospitality meant a lot to all of us.

23 Random Indulgences: An Antidote for the Blahs

dux

Ducks swimming on the lawn – an everyday Eugene sight.

Mid-February: cold (especially this year!), rain, grey skies. It’s been a long time since the end of summer, and it seems like a long time until the beginning of spring.

Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day or trying to forget it, you probably deserve a little pampering and maybe a present to throw off winter’s staleness. We think you do.

We asked a few customers and employees around the Kiva to look around and find a favorite indulgence; some of the ideas we got are below.

Chocolate

A huge favorite in all its forms, dark, milk, flavored, with and without nuts or fruit; hot in milk or coffee; raw in cacao. Chocolate is almost the proverbial indulgence.

Deck Family Farms Smoked Lamb Bacon

Wow. Organic, nitrate/nitrite-free slices of succulent smoked lamb, ready for the pan. Pasture-raised in Junction City. It doesn’t taste very much like pork bacon, but it is smoky and insanely rich with a savor all its own.

 Fresh Flowers

flarsuseCut flowers can bring a spot of color and a breath of spring to a gloomy February day. Arranged by Green Gables Farm in Philomath.

A book, a real three-dimensional book, and some time to properly engage with it was another favorite. We picked a few at random:

Mycophilia, Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms by Eugenia Bone

What better way to pass a soggy pre-spring day than by hiking in your mind with engaging food myco_finalwriter Eugenia Bone as she discusses the strange beings we call mushrooms and the even stranger beings who love to hunt them? Explore the mysterious world of fungi and foragers without getting your feet wet.

Bonk by Mary Roach

BonkPbk-smThe bestselling author of such books as Stiff, Spook, and Packing for Mars tackles human sexuality with her characteristic humor, honesty, and unflinching curiosity. Bonk is packed with riveting details about sexual physiology and the scientists who study it. Hilarious, informative, and fascinating.

World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffery

And then there are cookbooks! Sometimes nothing satisfies an acquisitive desire more than a new cookbook, bursting with possibility and ripe for exploration.  Madhur Jaffrey’s amazing knowledge of international and especially Indian cuisine has made her the go-to author when you want concise and reliable ideas or directions for a delicious meal.  In World Vegetarian, she not only offers 650 broad-ranging recipes from around the world but information on cooking techniques and special foods and seasonings.  Fun to read and delightful to put into practice!

Cake Pops by Angie Dudley and Bakerella

cakepopsA really enjoyable book to browse through, because Cake Pops that look like owls, chickies, snowmen, sheep, pandas, and robots are a lot of fun to look at, even if you don’t have the time to actually bake them.

Alcoholic beverages were another popular category. We decided to focus on the more unusual.

Interrobang Sweet Vermouth

An interrobang is what you get when you combine a question mark and an exclamation point, like this?! Presumably the makers of Interrobang Vermouth felt that this was a good symbol for the look of pleasant shock on the faces of those tasting this artisan aperitif for the first time.  Sipped straight, it opens with a bittersweet tang that takes you on a walk through a Gothic garden of shadowy herbs and spices, and ends with a grip of lingering bitter that is neither too soft nor too overpowering.  In a Manhattan, it gives a complex, fascinating, and rather dark flavor that made it an experience worth savoring.

 

Chateau Lorane Meads

Located, as their name suggests, in Lorane, Oregon, Chateau Lorane produces wines from a wide variety of grapes. These include an organic Pinot Noir as well as a number of wines made from unusual varieties such as Baco Noir, Huxelrebe, Leon Millot, and Counoise. In addition, they also produce a spectrum of mead, an ancient drink made from fermented honey.  These visually lovely meads taste as good as they look – sweet but not cloying, lush, deep, and rich. The Vandal Gold, made with buckwheat honey, is particularly complex and elegant (it is a lovely accompaniment to roast pork), while the lighter Life Force is brighter and more evanescent on the palate. Adding fruit to the mix could be gilding the lily, but the result in Chateau Lorane’s meads is wonderfully synergistic. Flavors include Marionberry, Apricot, Raspberry, and Huckleberry in addition to the straight-up Life Force and Vandal Gold.

 Carlovanna Fruit Wines

Hailing from McMinnville, Oregon, these exquisite sweet wines – true fruit wines, not flavored grape wines – are really a delightful way to indulge. The flavors are fresh and authentic.  The marionberry and raspberry wines are luscious sipped by themselves or added to champagne, and they pair deliriously well with dark chocolate. Carlovanna also makes a pear wine and a mead, which I look forward to experiencing.

 Quady Elysium

Actually anything made by Quady, a family-owned California winery specializing in exquisite dessert wines made from muscat grapes as well as ports and aperitifs. Elysium is made from the unusual Black Muscat. Very sweet, with a honeyed viscosity, Elysium is a deep ruby-red with petals of heavenly flavor which keep the intense sweetness from cloying.  The astonishing aroma and flavor of rose it exudes is not an additive, but a characteristic of the grape.  It can be sipped as an accompaniment to blue cheeses, cakes, or chocolate, or even served poured over ice cream (a use for the Carlovanna berry wines as well). Quady makes a number of muscat wines – the light and spritzy Electra Moscato, the slightly weightier Red Electra, and the more opulent Essencia. Elysium is the richest and weightiest of a winning lineup.

And then there was cheese.

Delice de Bourgogne

The feather bed of cheeses.  Delice de Bourgogne is a triple-cream downy-rind cheese produced in the Burgundy region of France.  When it is young, the paste is mild, crumbly, and incredibly buttery; when more mature, it becomes soft and creamy until it reaches the consistency of whipped cream, but whipped cream with an authoritative tang and a user-friendly yet serious flavor. Truly a cheese to be wallowed in. (Photo credit: T. Depaepe) 

Stilton

If Delice de Bourgogne is a feather bed, Stilton is a fascinating companion – rich, complicated, savory, and never boring. With some reason, it’s often called the King of Cheeses. Buttery when young, Stilton mellows and grows more powerful with age.  Its flavor notes range from buttery and cheddary to herbal and roasted-meat-like closer to the rind. Stilton is easily enjoyed on crackers or slices of baguette…exquisite over a little butter! It’s classically paired with port, a combination that can lift the aficionado to giddy heights of ecstasy.

Valdeon

Darker in flavor than Stilton, cloaked in its mysterious covering of sycamore leaves, Valdeon has a smoldering bite and a complexity a little more challenging than Stilton.  If Stilton is a charming, nay, enchanting dinner companion, Valdeon is a riveting stranger glimpsed on a foreign street, whose face you will never forget.

 

Humboldt Fog

By Cypress Grove in Arcata, California, Humboldt Fog is about as close to nirvana as goat milk can get.  Its line of ash adds an artistic (as well as traditionally European) touch to its taste and appearance. Like other downy-rind cheeses, its paste turns from crumbly to creamy as it matures. Humboldt Fog is a little lighter and brisker than Delice de Bourgogne, but equally scrumptious.  Excellent when devoured with fruits or red wines.

Other favorite luxuries included domesticities, body care items, and a special ingredient for a meal.

Light a Single Candle (Or Maybe a Dozen)

candleuse

Candles by Casper Candles and others.

Flickering candlelight can be meditative, relaxing, intimate. A candlelight bath or supper (or both) is an entirely different thing than its electrically-illuminated counterpart. Beeswax candles have a beautiful amber glow and a summery scent of honey; white vegetable-wax candles burn very clean and contain no petroleum or animal products.

Something Scrubbly 

scrybly2Exfoliation, especially when it involves a long, hot bath, can feel as extravagant as a tropical vacation.

White Sage and Yerba Santa Smudge  Burn as a smudge or use as a sachet.  Traditionally used as an incense for spiritual cleansing, these combined herbs offer a woodsy, uplifting scent to refresh a weary mind.

Wild Carrot Wild Rose Honey Mask

WildRoseHoneyMask_1024x1024Pamper yourself with roses and honey. A nondrying mask for sensitive skin, Wild Carrot Wild Rose Honey Mask uses honey as a gentle exfoliant, and rose essential oil to please the senses. From Enterprise, Oregon.

Brand New Dish Towels

Dish towels? Sure. Clean, crisp, colorful dishtowels add a splash of freshness to the dull business of cleaning up!

Labrang Tea Traders Daydreamer’s Tea

To begin with, this heavenly scented tea is both organic and Fair Trade, so it’s good for the planet as well as you. Rich, high-quality black tea is blended with cardamon, vanilla bean, and rose petal to lift the soul into a sweet, peaceful fantasy. DaydreamersPoetry may result. Blended in Eugene.

Rustichella Pasta

Pasta shouldn’t be boring, and Rustichella pasta isn’t. The texture imparted by use of traditional brass dies holds more sauce than a slippery-smooth surface; the varied shapes are pleasing to the eye; and the 100% durum wheat flavor is pleasing to the palate.

Portobello Mushrooms

Oh, they can be used so many ways to impart a rich, savory, animal-free and yet meatlike flavor. Try slicing a Portobello mushroom in moderately thin slices, brush it with olive oil, sprinkle it with a large-grain salt, and arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 oven, watching carefully, until the slices start to become crispy (don’t let them burn). The result is an easy substitute for bacon – a different taste, but one that strikes all the same pleasurable taste signals.

toweluse

A new dish towel can be an inspiration.

Whatever gives you a little extra fun, inspiration, comfort, or enjoyment on a rainy day, you deserve it.

Cheese and Wine Spotlight for October

Ziggy says:

This month Josh and I wanted to emphasize a cheese and a wine that turned out not to be an ideal pairing, no matter how delightful each might be in different pairings, so we decided to spotlight these products individually.

sleeping beautySleeping Beauty from Cascadia Creamery

Josh says:

This month, I’m excited to feature the newest addition to our artisan cheese selection. Sleeping Beauty, a semi-hard natural-rind cheese from Cascadia Creamery, is produced just across the Columbia in Trout Lake, Washington. Cascadia Creamery is a family run business that produces raw, certified organic artisan cheeses using milk from local pasture-raised cows.

Sleeping Beauty is aged to create a slightly dry, pleasantly chalky paste. It has a mild flavor with a slight tang and a rich buttery finish. Each wheel is charmingly decorated by hand by the cheese maker’s wife, as a final touch that underscores the love and attention that goes into each cheese.

One of only four cheeses Cascadia Creamery produces, Sleeping Beauty is named for the lovely valley that lies between Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood in the Cascade Range.

Ziggy says:

Sleeping Beauty has a sweet milky or buttery scent, not at all like the stronger aromas associated with some cheeses.  Mild and rich in the mouth, but with complex savory and herbal notes.  I notice that cheeses made from grassfed milk often have more interesting herbal tones.

I think it would benefit from being served with wine or fruit to refresh the palate; I found that a few bites into the firm but pleasantly yielding paste I began to become desensitized to the subtler nuances.

Season Cellars’ 2012 Marsanne-Roussanne

57% Marsanne 38% Roussanne 5% Viognier

Season Cellars is a young, family-owned winery in Winston, Oregon.  They buy all their fruit from some of the excellent vineyards in Southern Oregon, and produce a variety of impressive wines, including Malbec, Syrah, Viognier, and a blend of Muller-Thurgau, Muscat, and Riesling called Transparency that might have made an excellent accompaniment to the Sleeping Beauty.

Marsanne and Roussanne are varietals from the Rhone region of France, and I thought Season Cellars Marsanne-Roussanne had some of the character of classic white wines I’ve tasted from the Rhone in its assertive and food-friendly qualities, along with the freshness and ripeness I associate with Southern Oregon wines.

On the nose we detected fresh-sliced apple, subtle stone fruit, and a hint of minerality.

On the palate, this wine was dry and bright, with notes of apple, citrus, cream, tropical fruits, and subtle minerals.  It is big enough to stand no nonsense from food, and would pair very well with cream sauces or heavily-herbed preparations of chicken or fish, and is interesting enough to enjoy all by itself.

The makers recommend pairing it with spicy Asian foods.  I have not experimented with this, but if you’d rather have a really good dry white wine than the oft-recommended sake, cider, or Gewurtztraminer with your Szechuan feast, it’s definitely worth a try.

Sleeping Beauty and Season Cellars Marsanne-Roussanne?  This was an example of a pairing that contrasted rather than complemented.  The wine was a little too boisterous for the very delicate and gentle flavors of the cheese, but when sipped with restraint it cleansed and reset the palate completely, cutting a clean swath.

In defense of this pairing, I found that eating the cheese was like sinking into a warm, comfortable chair, and the wine was like a cold slap of rain that woke my taste buds up and made them alert to all the nuances of the cheese when it began to cloy.  It would make an excellent wine for a selection of cheeses.

If I had it to do over, however, I would pair this cheese with a softer and more retiring wine–a Viognier with just a little bit of residual sugar seems like it might be an ideal match, a soft rose, a moderately dry Riesling, or the aforementioned Season Cellars Transparency–and I would save the excellent Marsanne-Roussanne for tougher game.

Customer Appreciation 2013

EAppreciationvery day, we’re grateful for our wonderful customers: we wouldn’t be here without you!

We had our first Customer Appreciation Days event three years ago, when the Kiva celebrated forty years in business, in addition to our remodel.  It was such a popular event we repeated it the next year, and again this year.

This event gives our wonderful local wholesale suppliers an opportunity to connect directly with our wonderful retail customers, talk about their products and businesses, and offer samples for tasting.

This year, our Customer Appreciation will be on Thursday and Friday, October 24th and 25, from 11a.m. to 3 p.m.

Throughout the day on Thursday, we will have representatives of the Infused Vinegar Company, Caffe Pacori, Casablanca, Café Mam, Deck Family Farm, Full Circle Farm, Pacific Northwest Kale Chips, DeCasa Fine Foods, Elegant Elephant, and Polly and Don’s Pure Peppers demoing their products.

On Friday, we’ll be hosting LMF Tea Traders, Terra Firma Botanicals, Café Mam, Wylie’s Fermented Soda, Fern’s Edge Goat Dairy, Red Duck Ketchup, Organically Grown Company, Brew Dr. Kombucha, Sweet Pea Organics, Knee Deep Cattle Company, and Cousin Jack’s Pasties.  (This list is subject to change; in addition, some vendors may not be here the full four hours.)

We hope you’ll stop by and enjoy–it’s all about you!

Always Tea Time

The Labrang family, dressed to see the Dalai Lama

Angela Labrang has been a familiar face around the Kiva since she joined us in 2010, but she’s had a lot more going on behind the scenes.  Her life outside the deli includes a family and a business, both small but growing.

Today, while cleaning out her locker in the Kiva’s employee area she was heard to remark, “My locker is filled with tea–like the rest of my life.”

Yes, Angela’s life is filled with tea, and now she’s moving on to spend even more time with camellia sinensis–the plant from which green, white, and black teas are derived–and other herbs and spices that go into the subtle and enticing blends that Labrang Tea Traders, Angela’s company, provides for the Kiva and other stores.

Angela and her husband-partner Shedhe have been slowly growing the business since  they acquired it several years ago from a couple whose growing family demands no longer left them time for a sideline.

Originally known as LMF Tea Traders, the company is changing its name to Labrang Tea Traders to reflect the area where Shedhe grew up and which he and Angela have adopted as a last name.  One of the motivations for acquiring the tea company originally was to help keep a connection between them and Shedhe’s family in Tibet.

Angela and Shedhe met in Daramsala, India, in 2006, where Shedhe was living as a Tibetan refugee and Angela was studying Tibetan language and culture.  They married in 2008 and returned to the US in 2009.  Their daughter, Sonam, was born in 2012.

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Sonam keeps warm with Shedhe at Saturday Market

Her coworkers know Angela is passionate about tea, and also passionate about social responsibility.  Her carefully-sourced ingredients are all organic, and fair trade as often as possible; one of her goals is to visit the farms where the tea is grown to see the agriculture for herself and to verify the conditions the workers experience.  She is also working with local farmers as well for organic herbs and spices to use in the blends.

The Labrangs work as a family.  Angela does the blending herself, taking an inspiration and tinkering with the nuances until it tastes just right.  Shedhe brings a knowledge of Chinese and Tibetan teas, as well as Chinese, Tibetan, and Hindi languages to the partnership–an aid in communicating with people in the countries from which the tea is sourced.  Sonam provides inspiration and cute overload.

In addition to providing loose and packaged tea to many local retailers, Angela and Shedhe also sell their original blends at Saturday Market.  Angela also does tea parties and tea tastings for individuals and private parties.  We serve some Labrang Tea Traders tea hot at the Kiva coffee bar as well.

We’ll miss Angela, but we’ll have her teas to drown our sorrows in, and wish her the best in all her new adventures!

Open a New Chapter with Our New Chapter Raffle

New Chapter products are inrafflenovative, high quality, and verified GMO free, and we’re giving some away.

Each time you purchase a New Chapter product at the Kiva during the month of September 2013, you’ll have the option of adding your name to a drawing for a chance to win the assortment of New Chapter products shown in the photo here.  This $60 value includes Zyflamend (160 softgels), Bone Strength (30 tabs), Whole Mega (30 softgels), and Turmeric Force (30 softgels).

Ask for the sign-up sheet at the front register every time you buy a New Chapter product — you can enter once for every item purchased, and multiple entries will increase your chance to win.  (Please leave a name, and phone number or email — your information is confidential and will be used for the purposes of this raffle only.)

The drawing will be held on October 3, 2013 using a truly random number generator.

If you have further questions, please ask our supplement specialists Isaac, Sherrill, or Janet for more information.

Thanks for your participation!