Specialty Food Magazine

JUL-AUG 2012

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 152 of 207

STORE TOUR Cowgirl Creamery: East Coast Outpost of California Cheesemaker The back room of this gourmet destina- tion in Penn Quarter is devoted solely to cheese, with anywhere from 80 to 100 options available and selections varying throughout the year. "It's always excit- ing looking ahead to the new season," says general manager Adam Smith. "You know what to expect from certain people, but there are still a lot of new producers popping up and you never know what they might be making." The cold cases boast cheeses from around the world, including a number made by the Cowgirl Creamery folks themselves in Point Reyes Station, Calif. Other offerings include area favorites such as Alleghany Chèvre and Mountain Top Bleu from Maryland's Firefly Farms and Grayson and Appalachian from Virginia's Meadow Creek Dairy. The cheesemongers are big believers in offering samples for uncertain or fickle customers. The shop hosts free beer tastings Thursday evenings from 4 to 6 p.m. These friendly mixers are often hosted by local craft brewers, who tell the story of their brews and recommend cheeses to pair with them. Friday evenings, from 4 to 6 p.m., local vintners host free wine tastings. "Our goal is to educate guests as much as possible," Smith says. "But only as much as they want, because we're not there to push information." Those looking for a quick bite have plenty of options. Breakfast sandwiches, such as one with fromage blanc and homemade mar- malade, are available starting at 7:30 a.m. The pastry case brims with muffins, croissants, pan au chocolat and decadently glazed sticky buns—which sell out very quickly—from Maryland-based Hawthorne Fine Breakfast Pastry. From 10:30 a.m., Cowgirl Creamery offers sandwiches, salads and soups, which you can take to go or eat at one of the two tables against the storefront windows facing the street. (Read more about Cowgirl Creamery on p. 135.) La Fromagerie: D.C.'s Friendly French-Countryside Fromagerie Owner Sebastien Tavel took the scenic route on his way to opening this cute boutique in the heart of Old Town Alexandria. Trained as a chef in his homeland of France, he hopped the Channel to work in kitchens throughout London. From there, he crossed the Atlantic 130 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE ❘ specialtyfood.com to Washington, D.C., where he found a job at Poste Moderne Brasserie in the Hotel Monaco. Ultimately, he wanted to start his own culinary venture with his wife, Mary, a former federal employ- ee. "We couldn't afford to open a restaurant," he says. "So we thought that a little cheese shop would be a good idea." La Fromagerie debuted in the beginning of 2009 with a stock La Fromagerie debuted in early 2009 with a stock that focused on American farmstead cheeses. "When you go to a cheese shop in France, you find artisan cheeses from the region," says owner Sebastien Tavel. "This is the same idea." that focused on American farmstead cheeses. "When you go to a cheese shop in France, you find artisan cheeses from the region," Tavel explains. "This is the same idea." About 80 different varieties are typically on hand, including local cheeses from Maryland's Firefly Farms and Chapel's Country Creamery, and Virginia's Meadow Creek Dairy and Caromont Farms. Imported favorites aren't left out. "People wouldn't let us go all the way domestic," Tavel says. "They still want things like brie, Manchego and Parmesan." Browse the aisles and you'll find crackers, chocolates, chutneys and a wide variety of wines. In the refrigerated case, there is an impressive selection of housemade charcuterie, including country pâté, headcheese, duck and sherry pâté, rillettes and chicken liver mousse. Many customers choose to enjoy a platter of these gourmet goodies at one of the tables at the front of the store. The menu also offers light fare like sandwiches and salads, though cheese boards are an ever-popular choice. No matter what you order, you'll feel like you've been transported to a friendly fromagerie in the French countryside. Red, White & Bleu: Domestic Farmstead Cheeses, Charcuterie and New World Wines Co-owner James Roth used to have a career on Wall Street, but wine was always his real passion. Ultimately, his oenophilia won out and he quit his corporate gig to take a position at New York City's Morrell & Company Fine Wine Auctions. After working there for several years, he moved back to Falls Church, Va., in 2008 to open Red, White & Bleu with his brother Adam. His sibling was already a respected restaurateur, having opened the successful Italian trat- toria Argia's a few years earlier just a block away from the space that became the duo's cheese and wine shop. "We're focused on our mantra of red, white and bleu," says James Roth. "So we specialize in domestic farmstead cheeses." Some PHOTO COURTESY OF COWGIRL CREAMERY

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