Ah… New Zealand. Many will confess that their first thought when hearing the name is the Lord of the Rings. Images of Hobbits scampering about; mountain crevices filled with treachery; THE PRECIOUS!!! I’ll wager that after an evening spent with Carrick’s wine maker, Francis Hutt, our thoughts will shift from Mordor to Pinot Noir. Care to join us?
We will sample five of Carrick’s acclaimed wines, along with a bevvy of perfectly presented cheeses. But even more exciting is the opportunity to speak with such an accomplished wine maker who specializes in organic, by-hand methods. Just check out this excerpt from their website, which speaks about the challenges of remaining an organic producer with this region’s challenging terroir:
Situated on windblown loess soils the vineyards have low natural fertility encouraging the vines to grow their roots into the deep fractured schist layers resulting in wines of character and structure. Mindful of the special nature of the soils, Carrick is farmed using only organic practices. In order to produce exceptional wines; pruning, shoot positioning, shoot and fruit thinning, leaf plucking and picking are carried out by hand. There is extensive use of cover crops to encourage natural biodiversity and useful insects and we are rewarded by the numbers of beneficial birds that live in the vineyards. The “must” from the winery along with other organic material is composted and fed back to the vineyards. The compost heaps are also the territory of our free range hens who roam the vineyard and provide eggs for the restaurant.
Date: Sunday, October 5th, 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Location: Cheesetique Del Ray
Instructor: Carrick wine maker Francis Hutt and the Del Ray Cheese Crew
Yummies: 5 acclaimed Carrick wines; 8 fabulous cheeses
CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP!
Today (Sunday, September 28th) Cheesetique is closed for our annual “Amazing Staff Celebration.” Don’t worry – we will be back in full cheesiness tomorrow.
In honor of Cheesetique’s 10th birthday, we’re hosting all sorts of events for your cheese enjoyment!
Thursday 9/4: Shirlington – 3 Pigs Charcuterie will be in the shop! Del Ray – Live jazz 6-9pm! Both stores – Birthday cupcakes all day!
Friday 9/5: Del Ray – Port City will do a beer tasting from 6-9pm
Saturday 9/6: Both stores – Wine tastings with two of our most beloved (and original) wine vendors from 1-4pm
Tuesday 9/9: Shirlington – Kingsbury Confections will host a chocolate tasting
Wednesday 9/10: Del Ray – Spanish Wine Importers will do a Spanish wine tasting from 6-9pm
Thursday 9/11: Both stores – Visit and enjoy a glass of bubbly!
Don’t miss out on Alexandria Restaurant Week at our Del Ray location. Enjoy Dinner for Two for $35. Just check out this yummy menu!
I think we must have the busiest bees on the planet because after only a couple months, they completely filled two hives with layer upon layer of honey-filled comb. In fact, they made so much that our “bee whisperer” Stefano told us we could take just a bit for ourselves. Thinking we’d have to wait another year, we jumped at the chance!
My intrepid bee-wrangling husband, Jeff, did the honors with our 5-year-old in tow.
Step 1: Fire up the smoker. This will confuse the little winged beauties just long enough for you to get in and out in relative comfort.
Step 2: Wearing oh-so-attractive bee hood (a step he neglected last time, much to his peril), Jeff removes the hive cover and identifies which frame of comb will be easiest to remove.
Step 3: Once the frame has been removed, gently-oh-so-gently encourage the clinging bees to clear out. This involved a lot of blowing on them like they were hot food. None seemed too distraught by this entire process, which surprised me. I have to think that if someone came into my house, took my food, and then blew on me like I was hot food, I’d be a little miffed.
Step 4: Once the frame was bee-free, Jeff quickly cut out the comb and returned the now-empty frame to the hive. Knowing our bees, it will be full again tomorrow. The result of the comb removal was… the most beautiful piece of golden honeycomb ever collected. Here’s just a small sample.
Step 5: Gawk at the amazingness that is honey. I mean, just look at its drippy, unctuous perfection! Gently pressing on the comb caused the honey to ooze out and we spread it on pretty much anything that would stay still. Bread? Check. Crackers? Check. Cheese? Check. Fingers? Check.
Now we have enough honey to last us a couple weeks and the bees will be left in peace until next year when we can enjoy the fruits of their labor yet again. All in all, I was truly in awe of the entire process, though I did feel like a little bit of an evil tax collector. “Here – we’ll let you do business in our yard, but we will forcibly extract a portion of your labor for the privilege.” If only it didn’t taste so good…
Just in case you need 10 reminders of why cheese should be your favorite food, please read on.
#10. Cheese is your friend. It will never judge you or post unflattering photos of you on Facebook.
#9. Cheese comes in every imaginable shape, size, color, and flavor. The proof is in your local cheese case.
#8. Cheese gives you great breath. Honest.
#7. Cheese will make you stronger, smarter, and more popular. I have scientific evidence of this somewhere.
#6. Cheese pairs perfectly with what should be your second favorite food: cured meat.
#5. Feeling sweet? Feeling salty? There’s a cheese for you, no questions asked.
#4. Cheese is made from the milk of the mommies of really cute baby animals. And any time baby animals are involved, it’s a win.
#3. Cheeses tend to have funny names, like Stinking Bishop, Lambchopper, and Halloumi. The same cannot be said for vegetables, except for the Fiddlehead Fern. And now that I think of it, that should be the name of a cheese.
#2. Cheese requires almost no effort to make you look like a culinary rock star. Thank you, dedicated and creative cheese makers.
#1. Cheese tastes friggin’ awesome.
All this week, I will focus on mommies. Mommies here. Mommies there. Mommies Mommies everywhere. Just to ease into things, we will begin Day 1 with some warm and fuzzy mommy/baby moments. No relevance to cheese, but much relevance to mommies rockin’ it!
[As a side note, I dare you to search for "photos mommy baby animals" on Google. It's. Just. Too. Much. Cuteness. This was my experience as I sought inspiration for today's entry.]
Conclusion #1 – Even non-cute animals have way cute babies. Don’t believe me? Please see evidence below. You will notice that I didn’t go for the easy choices like koalas, penguins, or giraffes. That would just be unfair.
Donkeys. Ugly? Or totally snuggleable?
Anteaters. Not cute, or are they???
Hippos. Also ugly but cute.
Conclusion #2 – The baby’s dopiness quotient is inversely proportional to the mommy’s boredom quotient. I think we can all relate to this – the weirder your kids act, the more you try to act nonchalant.
“This grass is delicious. And it’s made so much more so by the pony on my back.”
“Of course I’m totally relaxed. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“I swear, if I drop my keys right now, I’m going to FREAK OUT.”
Coming tomorrow: Cows, Goats, Sheep, and… Buffalo??? Our milk-producing mommy friends in all their glory.
My husband, Jeff, and I never wanted pets. Ever. And so our story begins…
One day, Jeff discovered on a great local site called DIY Del Ray these really cool under-counter worm-assisted composters. It’s a whole “circle of life” thing – we eat food, we share the food with the worms, the worms make nice fertilizer for our plants. It seemed simple enough. What I didn’t realize is that the composter people are also beekeepers. And they like to teach others how to be beekeepers.
It was not long before Jeff proposed the bees. My first response was something really poetic like, “HELL no!” After months of mentioning it – and promising that I wouldn’t have to work and could still reap the honey, he won. The gears were put in motion with AzureB and before we knew it, our bee delivery was scheduled. Jeff casually asked me one day, “Hey – do you have any idea how many bees will be in each hive?” My response: “About a hundred?” His (laughing) response: “About a fifty THOUSAND.” Per hive. And we were getting two.
Our first delivery date was postponed because the weather had been cold and rainy – apparently, that makes the bees “ornery,” according to the bee whisperer, Stefano. And even I know that the last thing you want is ornery bees.
On a Tuesday afternoon, Stefano arrived to set up our beautiful hives, which he had built and seasoned himself. Honestly, they were really pretty even without the bees. But then he brought them in… two bountiful boxes of buzzing beauties. The first step was to check that the queen was content – she seemed pretty cool to me, especially since she came equipped with her own attendants in a little “queen cage.” The next step is what I like to call, “pour the bees into the hive” because he literally turned the boxes over and poured the bees like molasses into the hives. It was the single coolest thing I have seen in a very long time. At this point, the bees were really buzzing. We all stood around, utterly fascinated, and watched as they swarmed around harmlessly and settled in. In the days since, the activity level is impressive, but I doubt we will ever see that same surge again. You can read the step-by-step process on DIY Del Ray, where Leslie captured the experience so beautifully with words and photos.
Now that we’re all acquainted, every day we say good morning to the bees as they leave on their rounds. Every evening, we check in again as they begin to settle down. Often, I find that I sneak out there just to sit and listen. We haven’t gotten honey yet (it’ll be over a year) but our little colonies seem to be thriving.
So I guess we now have LOTS of pets. And they’re either slimy or they sting. Oddly, this makes complete sense. And at least I don’t have to walk them, right?
Our two hives on the day they arrived. In front of each are the bees’ travel boxes.
Yes, you’re reading that correctly. After nearly 10 years, Cheesetique Del Ray will now be open until 10 pm on Sunday nights. Need a late-Sunday cheese fix? Look no further!!!
a) Love cheese?
b) Love competition?
c) Love helping children and families in need?
Then OH BOY do we have the event for you!
Cheesetique is once again hosting the most exciting (and delicious) cheese competition IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. And this year, you too can have skin in the game (so to speak). Read on to see how…
How It Works:
We have selected 32 of our top cheeses for an epic taste-off! These are the cream of the crop, with a couple underdogs thrown in (because who doesn’t love an underdog?) Every day, two cheeses go head-to-head in each Cheesetique location, with the day’s victor chosen by YOUR VOTE. Yes, that means you can taste these cheeses and vote every day! Winners from each day advance through the rounds until the leaders from each location compete for the 2014 Marcheese Madness championship!
How You Participate:
Purchase a bracket between March 15th and March 21st for $5.00 and fill it out with your picks. The person from each location with the most correctly filled out bracket wins the PRIZE (see below).
And hey – even if you don’t purchase a bracket, come in every day to cast your vote for that day’s match up! Then, watch the results on our Facebook pages (make sure to follow both Shirlington and Del Ray to see all results).
How You Help Others:
100% of proceeds from bracket sales will go to SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now), a Northern Virginia-based charity with whom we have worked for nearly ten years. On top of that, Cheesetique will also match 50% of the final total and donate it to SCAN.
The person with the most correctly filled out bracket from each Cheesetique location will receive a Cheese Lover’s Gift Bucket valued at $200, filled with everything any Cheesetique-loving person would want. Winners will be announced on Monday, April 7th.
Please join us in making Marcheese Madness 2014 spectacular! And help a VERY worthy cause.
Happy Bracketing, Cheese Lovers!