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pasta in bowl

You’ve Picked a Pasta and a Sauce. Let’s Get Cooking!

October 14th, 2019 Posted by How-To No Comment yet

Part of the Valente’s Let’s Get Cooking Series

Italian cooking is all about simplicity. Our goal? To minimize your time spent in the kitchen and maximize satisfaction for your tastebuds. 

Directions

The Set-Up

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rolling boil. In the meantime, pour sauce into a medium sized frying pan and heat up on medium-low setting.

 Adding the Pasta

Once water reaches a rolling boil, add pasta, stirring occasionally. Cooking time will vary depending on thickness of pasta. For thinner pastas like spaghetti, fettuccine, or linguine, cook for about 2-3 minutes. Thicker pastas like pappardelle require roughly 4-5 minutes. Stuffed pastas will cook for about 5 minutes, or 15-30 seconds after they float to the surface. 

Combining the Sauce

Using a slotted spoon, transfer pasta into frying pan with sauce. To ensure pasta is coated with sauce, use a c-shaped motion and jerk the pan down and upwards so that the pasta hits the lip of the pan and flips the pasta. Add a few tablespoons of the starchy pasta water to further combine the sauce with the pasta. At this point add any grated cheese if desired.

Finishing Touches

Transfer to bowls for serving and top with fresh herbs or more grated cheese.

 

I hope you found this easy, or as they say in Italian, molto simplice!  If you still can’t get it just right, just keep practicing. Rome was not built in a day, and neither is your best dish of pasta. In the midst of your practice, stop in and order a dish from us to channel your inner-Italian and to reward your hard work in kitchen.

March: Women in Cheese

March 24th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Our March selection was inspired by International Women’s Day, and my admiration for women in cheesemaking! Women have been the driving force in much of farmstead cheesemaking for centuries, and this month I’m highlighting cheeses made by award-winning, tenacious cheesemakers – all of whom happen to be women!

Tres Bonne
Boston Post Dairy
Enosburg Falls, Vermont
Goat’s Milk, Pasteurized / $30/lb

Boston Post Dairy started as a business partnership between four sisters: Anne, Susan, Theresa, and Annette Gervais. Together with their families, they raise their own animals and make several varieties of award-winning cheeses on their farm in far nothern Vermont. An aged gouda, Tres Bonne was named by their inspirational mother Gisele, who, upon tasting the first batch of this cheese, proclaimed it “Tres Bonne”. The sisters chose to use the feminine “Bonne” instead of the more traditional masculine “Bon”, because as they see it, the cheese is made by women, and aged by women! The wheel we have in stock at Valente’s is firm in texture and gentle in flavour, with notes of wildflower honey. An ideal breakfast cheese, in my estimation!

Marieke Overjarige Extra-Aged Gouda 
Holland’s Family Cheese
Thorp, Wisconsin
Cow’s Milk, Raw / $34/lb

Unable to afford to buy farmland in their native Netherlands, cheesemaker Marieke Penterman and her dairy farmer husband emigrated to Wisconsin to start their own cow dairy operation. Missing the cheeses of her homeland, she decided to make Dutch-style cheeses with her family’s milk. Barely a dozen years later, her line of cheeses has won multiple awards in national competitions. We have many aged gouda fans among our customers, so given this month’s theme and the fact that Marieke is an immigrant woman with an entrepreneuship dream, I just had to bring in this extra special cheese. At almost three years old, our wheel is full of the characteristic crystals you’d expect in a gouda of this age – yet with a creamy mouthfeel that belies its crumbly appearance.

Quadrata
Lazy Lady Farm
Westfield, Vermont
Cow Milk, Pasteurized / $34/lb

Tucked away in northern Vermont, up near the Canadian border, is Lazy Lady Farm – helmed by the indomitable Laini Fondillier. Ask anyone in the biz, and they’ll confirm that Laini is a veritable legend of American artisan cheesemaking. One of a small group of pioneering goat cheese producers who started in the 1980s, she keeps her own herd of goats and is famous for making a range of highly-regarded small format cheeses. Quadrata is a washed rind cow’s milk cheese with a semi-soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture. I’d enjoy it with a gruner veltliner, or keep it local and pair with a Vermont cider!


February: A French Invasion

February 23rd, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Last month, I ran into a friend who was about to whisk his partner off on a trip to Paris, with plans to propose in front of the Eiffel Tower on Valentine’s Day. I was downright jealous – not because of the proposal or the Eiffel Tower, but because of all the amazing French cheese and butter they could be eating!!! Then I thought, why not bring some great French cheeses to Valente’s in February?  Because, you know, while not all of us might be able to jet off to France for a February getaway, we CAN all give ourselves a Valentine’s treat in the form of a luscious French cheese plate! And that sounds pretty darned romantic to me!

All of our cheeses this month come from the caves of French master affineur Herve Mons. Just like Crown Finish Caves (featured last month), the Mons company does not make their own cheese, but takes very young cheese from select producers and ages them until they’re ripe enough to sell.

Tomme de la Chataigneraie
Aged by Herve Mons, France
Made in the Auvergne, France
Goat Milk, Pasteurized / $38/lb

Tomme de la Chataigneraie is made from the milk of goats that graze in chestnut groves in the Auvergne – a romantic scene if ever there was one! The cheese has a natural rind, and in keeping with the chestnut theme, sits on chestnut wood shelves during its ripening period. This is truly the kind of cheese I could eat all day long – it’s semi-firm, has wonderfully clean flavours enhanced with a pleasing hint of salt, and honestly goes with everything! It’s mild enough for a breakfast cheese, plays well with others on a lunch sandwich or salad, and is a great pre-dinner appetizer cheese – perhaps with a glass of rose!

1924 Bleu
Aged by Herve Mons, France
Sheep and Cow Milk, Pasteurized / $32/lb

When Roquefort became a name-protected cheese in 1925, regulation dictated that only cheeses made with 100% sheep milk could be classed as “Roquefort”. This cheese, 1924 Bleu, harkens back to the time before this ruling, when Roquefort was made with mixed milks too! I love this blue; it has a milky sweetness that’s a perfect counterpoint to its saltiness, and the addition of cows’ milk makes for a somewhat milder version of the all-sheep Roquefort. I’d recommend this as a good blue cheese for both beginners and blue fanatics. While delicious on a salad, this cheese shines best on a cheese board – with some sliced bosc pears or preserves as an accompaniment!

Camembert le Pommier
Aged by Herve Mons Normandy, France
Cow Milk, Pasteurized / $25/lb

I couldn’t have a French theme without including that most quintessential of French cheeses – a Normandy Camembert! Granted, “real” (i.e. raw milk) Camembert is not allowed in the States, but the pasteurized le Pommier was developed to come as close as possible to traditional, unpasteurized Camembert. It hits all the right notes: mushroomy, creamy, a tiny bit vegetal – and if you’re feeling the winter chill, you can warm this up in your oven and enjoy with a hearty loaf of bread. For best results (and to keep it regional), pair this with your favourite Normandy cider!


January’s Curated Cheeses: Hibernation

January 29th, 2019 Posted by Curated Cheeses No Comment yet

January, after the hustle and bustle of the holidays, sometimes all we want to do is retreat into a cave and hibernate! Of course, if I had my pick of caves in which to spend a sleepy weekend, it would definitely be one filled to the brim with ripening cheese! In that spirit, this month I’m featuring Brooklyn’s Crown Finish Caves in our cheese selection. Crown Finish is an affineur – a company that buys very young cheeses from cheesemakers, carefully matures them in temperature and humidity-controlled conditions, and then sells them on to cheese shops and wholesalers once the cheeses have reached an optimal ripeness and desired flavour profile. Located in converted 19th century lagering tunnels in Crown Heights, Crown Finish works primarily with regional cheesemakers in NY and VT – though they make an exception to that norm with a very special cheese – which we of course had to include in our selection!

Bandaged Bismark
Grafton Village Cheese Company, VT
Sheep Milk, Pasteurized ($42/lb)

Named after a famed 19th century ram, Bismark is a sheep’s milk clothbound cheddar made at Grafton Village Cheese Company in Brattleboro. After its arrival at Crown Finish, the cheese is rubbed in smoked lard from Indianapolis-based cured meat company Smoking Goose, and aged for 4-6 months. With its crumbly texture and sweet caramel notes, Bismark is a definite contender for our new favourite dinner party cheese!

Goatlet
Consider Bardwell Farm, VT
Cow and Goat Milk, Raw ($40/lb)

Goatlet is a mixed milk, Italian toma-style cheese made by Consider Bardwell, a small goat farm in Rutland County, VT. A Crown Finish exclusive, Goatlet is made with 20% goats milk and 80% cows milk, released at 4-6 months of age, and took a first prize in its category at the 2017 American Cheese Society competition.

Characterised by a pleasing, moreish saltiness, Goatlet would be my pick this month for a table cheese, lunchbox addition, or pre-dinner appetizer. And if you’re looking to put together a light meal, this cheese would be an ideal companion to cured meats and pickles!

Bufarolo
Quattro Portoni, Bergamo, IT
Buffalo Milk, Pasteurized ($36/lb)

Bufarolo is a semi-soft, natural rind buffalo milk cheese made in Northern Italy by Quattro Portoni – a name which some of you may remember from last month’s selection. In December, I brought in Madame Bufala – a cheese made at Quattro Portoni, but aged by Italian stagionatore CasArrigoni. Made via a similar collaboration between Quattro Portoni and Crown Finish, Bufarolo is the only Italian cheese aged there. Bufarolo arrives at Crown Finish completely rindless, and forms its colourful natural rind over the course of 6-8 weeks in the caves. I love its fudgy texture and clean finish, and would recommend it with a prosecco or other sparkling wine.

December’s Curated Cheeses: An Organic Taste of Italy

December 14th, 2018 Posted by Curated Cheeses No Comment yet

For our December artisan cheese selection, we wanted to take it back to our roots and bring you an all-Italian, all-organic roster of cheeses. We worked closely with Pondini, an importer based right here in New Jersey who specializes in sourcing organic cheeses, oils and vinegars from Italy. Come in and taste them all!

Formagella di Montagna
Lombardy
Cow Milk, Raw ($26/lb)

Perhaps my favorite of this month’s selection, Formagella is a subtle crowd-pleaser. A cave-aged, semi-firm cheese with a pretty natural rind, its flavor is mild at first, but quickly opens up to deliver dominant notes of butter and mushrooms. This is an eminently meltable, very snack-able, all-day, every day kind of cheese that will be enjoyed by adults and younger folk alike!

Pecorino Gessato
Fattoria Lischeto, Tuscany
Sheep Milk, Raw ($32/lb)

I couldn’t put together an Italian cheese selection without a Pecorino, and this one is a great example of a classic Tuscan aged Pecorino. While overall less aggressive than a Pecorino Romano, Gessato still maintains the slightly meaty flavor note characteristic of many sheep milk cheeses. Shave this onto pastas and salads, or enjoy as a table cheese with honey and pears!

Madame di Bufala
Quattro Portoni & CasArrigoni, Valtaleggio
Buffalo Milk, Pasteurized ($36/lb)

A very special addition to any holiday cheese board, Madame di Bufala is a Taleggio-style cheese made with water buffalo milk! Buffalo milk is richer, sweeter, and yet milder than the milk of cows or sheep, and cheeses made with their milk tend to be luscious and decadent. Madame di Bufala’s creamy and spreadable paste beautifully balances the funkier notes from its washed rind, making for a cheese we just can’t stop eating.

Entrepreneurs NextDoor

November 18th, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

A couple of weeks ago the Entrepreneurs NextDoor podcast launched and debuted with a Valente’s interview. We’re honored to be a part of it and think the series is really worth a listen! 

Interviews with Mitch, of Gorshin Trading Post and End of the Earth, and Rocco, of Zaffron are now live too. Both are amazing and really cool stories.

November Cheese Selections: Thanksgiving

November 17th, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Thanksgiving dominates the November foodscape, and, like your favorite Thanksgiving dishes, our November cheeses are either beloved, award-winning American artisan cheese classics, only available seasonally, or both! In the spirit of the season, I encourage you to buy a large enough wedge to share with your friends and family – pick your favorite, or go with all three for a complete, crowd-pleasing cheese boar

Tarentaise

Spring Brook Farm, VT
Cow Milk, Raw
$36/lb

Alpine-style Tarentaise is one of the country’s most celebrated artisan cheeses, and for good reason! Made from Spring Brook’s own herd of cows on their 1,000+ acre farm in a gorgeous part of Vermont, it’s an artisanal American classic that I love to have around for the holiday season. A little sweet and a lot savoury, this versatile cheese is perfect on an appetizer board with cornichons and pickled pearl onions, melted over roasted potatoes alongside caramelized brussels sprouts, or as part of a breakfast spread (or midnight snack…) for hungry houseguests!

Verano

Vermont Shepherd, VT
Sheep Milk, Raw
$40/lb

A pioneering, artisan sheep milk cheese producer in both Vermont and the wider US, Vermont Shepherd has been grazing sheep and making their signature French-inspired cheese for over 20 years. As befits the oldest sheep dairy farm in the US, Vermont Shepherd’s products and practices are driven by tradition and closely tied to the seasons. Verano is made only in the summer, while the ewes are outside on pasture, grazing on clover, wild herbs and other grasses. These cheeses are aged 3-5 months and released starting in August, becoming scarce by late fall – and I was lucky enough to score one of the last wheels for Valente’s!

Abruzze Jawn 

Cherry Grove Farm, NJ
Cow Milk, Raw
$30/lb

A natural rinded, Jack-style cheese, Abruzze Jawn has a fun origin story: while experimenting with new flavours for their Jack cheese, the Cherry Grove cheesemakers created a unique spice blend and mixed it into the curds, not knowing how their experiment would turn out. A few months later, they cut into a wheel and realised it tasted just like the Abruzze sausage they used to sell while working as cheesemongers in Philly – and named it accordingly! The resulting cheese was entered in the American Cheese Society competition, winning first prize in its category. It’s now become one of Cherry Grove’s most popular cheeses, and is only made a couple of times a year – so snap it up while you can!

October Cheese Selections

October 12th, 2018 Posted by Curated Cheeses No Comment yet

October is American Cheese Month! We’re celebrating with a selection of cheeses from 3 creameries representing different aspects of the American cheese landscape.

Ben Nevis
Bonnieview Farm, VT
Sheep Milk, Raw ($40/lb)

Made on a fourth generation family farm in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Ben Nevis is a firm, aged sheep milk cheese named after (in a nod to the farmer’s Scots ancestry) the highest mountain in the UK. It’s salty and savory, with just a touch of the sweet richness characteristic of sheep milk cheeses. Owners Neil and Kristin Urie use only the milk from their own flock of sheep, which they breed seasonally and graze rotationally on their land. Ben Nevis is one of my favorite American sheep cheeses, and not often seen in our area, so I’m really excited to bring it to Valente’s for American Cheese Month!

Redbud
Boxcarr Handmade Cheese, NC
Cow and Goat Milk, Pasteurized ($32/lb)

Owned and operated by a brother and sister team, Boxcarr Handmade Cheese is a relative newcomer on the American artisan cheese scene – but their Italian-inspired cheeses have already become staples at many of the best cheese counters around the country. Owners and first generation farmers Austin and Samantha Genke make cheese with milk sourced from nearby farms, allowing them to focus exclusively on the cheesemaking and aging process – while providing a valuable sales outlet for dairy farms in their region. Rubbed with paprika and lightly smoked, Redbud is great paired with nuts as a snack or pre-dinner appetizer.

Red Rock
Roelli Cheese Haus, WI
Cow Milk, Pasteurized ($32/lb)


The first thing you notice about Red Rock is its striking, singular appearance. An American original recipe by Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Chris Roelli, this cheese is made in a long loaf, colored a deep orange red with annatto, and shot through with streaks of blue. Chris, a fourth generation WI cheesemaker with family roots in Switzerland, decided to move away from producing block cheddars on an industrial scale, and instead began making smaller batch, cave-aged cheeses. His technical expertise and years of experience have resulted in award-winning innovations like Red Rock. A great beginners blue cheese, Red Rock’s cheddar base makes it excellent in sandwiches, but it’s best shown off as the centerpiece of a cheeseboard, where all can admire its good looks!

September’s Curated Cheeses: Families & Farms

September 11th, 2018 Posted by Curated Cheeses No Comment yet

Every month, we will bring you a curated selection of three-to-four cheeses built around a specific theme. The theme for September is “Families and Farms.”

Getting set to break bread

June 22nd, 2018 Posted by Updates No Comment yet

Originally, our goal was to open in early Spring. Due to circumstances beyond our control, that did not happen. So, we semi-jokingly stated that we would open on June 20, since that was our last chance to open in the season. Well, it’s officially summer and we’re still plugging away.

We pressed pause on setting up shop at farmers markets recently so that we could work around the clock to open our storefront. Since then, we passed our first inspection and both the plumbing and electrical work are mostly done. The rest of our equipment is with the supplier waiting for us to say it can be delivered.

We are taking care of some cosmetic items ourselves while we stockpile inventory for the shop. Soon enough, we will have a contractor in there to finish up the remaining work. Then we can get the green light from both the borough and the county to open our front door.

Opening day is coming and we hope to be able to announce an official date very soon.

So, what should you expect from Valente’s when we first open?

First and foremost, we plan to scale up at a sustainable and reasonable pace. We believe that will allow us the best control over the quality of the products we make. Our shelves and deli case will contain imported products, locally-made items, cured meats and cheeses, etc. In the kitchen, we will churn out our the standard pasta, cheese, sauce, meatball, dessert, and other lines we’ve brought to our farmers markets. We’ll also have a select menu of freshly prepared meals in our fridge that will be available on the Mercato page of our site, which will be updated regularly.

The menu will expand in due time and we will add offerings, such as delivery.

We’re in this for the long haul, not to make a big splash and quickly fade away. As residents of this community, we want to grow and adapt with you. We want to hear your feedback after you shop with us and provide you with the items you want and the foods you like the most. While we have big plans and a number of things in the works already, we will devote our focus to one thing at a time.

Throughout the summer, we will be open from Thursday through Sunday, 11:00 – 7:00. When Fall rolls around, we will likely add on Wednesday with the goal of being open six days a week at some point in the near future.