For cheese of various textures, there are dedicated knives for cutting portions. But what about the contours of the cheese? Whether you have picked up compact pyramids of Valençay or towering slabs of Comté for your cheese and charcuterie board, Fromage from Europe: Cheeses of France, a trade group, has a new guide to how best to slice or pre-portion cheeses with various shapes. Cylinders, flat rounds, pyramids and squares should be divided in quarters or smaller wedges like a pie. A big wedge of a large wheel like Comté should be cut into parallel slices. A flat triangle of cheese needs to be sectioned into rays, and a round cheese like Mimolette needs to be cut as if you were sectioning an apple.
“The Golden Rules of Cheese Cutting,” Fromage from Europe, fromagefromeurope.com.
Take a Deep Dive on Salt
Naomi Duguid, a food writer and photographer who is best known for her richly documented books about the foods of Asia, took a deep dive into salt with the publication of “The Miracle of Salt” last fall. Now, in a virtual program for the Culinary Historians of New York, she will discuss the history of salt and its importance throughout the human experience as a preservative and flavoring, how it has been harvested over millenniums, and what it means today.
“Talking Salt: Its Geographies and Histories with Naomi Duguid,” Culinary Historians of New York, Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m., free for members, $10 for others, eventbrite.com.
Oysters and a Pint
A classic sidekick for freshly shucked oysters is a creamy-headed pint of Guinness Stout. It’s a match that dates back nearly 200 years and still pleases thanks to the beer’s minerality, salinity and light-bodied richness. Now Talea, a craft beer company in Brooklyn, has introduced its own Oyster Stout with a particular oyster-friendly angle. The beer is brewed with oyster shells gathered on Governors Island, a technique that ramps up the toasty brew’s briny notes. A portion of the proceeds of sales, will be donated to the Billion Oyster Project, a nonprofit working to restore oyster reefs in New York Harbor. Was Talea inspired by Guinness? “Definitely,” said LeAnn Darland, a founder of Talea, “The light body and restrained roasty characters are absolutely a homage to Guinness.” And it has the A.B.V., 4.2 percent, to match.
She Sells Seashells Oyster Stout, Talea Beer, $20 for four one-pint cans, $9 a serving at Talea taprooms in Williamsburg and Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, taleabeer.com.
Make a Zingerman’s Reuben at Home
The Reuben sandwiches at Zingerman’s Delicatessen win raves, and they are one of the components of Zingerman’s, the epic food emporium in Ann Arbor, Mich. The store’s kit for constructing the sandwiches (with choices of corned beef, turkey or pastrami) is now available nationwide, with free next business day delivery. Expect rye bread, sliced meat, sliced Emmenthaler cheese, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, coleslaw, pickles, potato chips and brownie bites; $150 to serve three to four, $225 for six to eight, for guests or hosts to assemble with eyes on the game.
Zingerman’s Reuben Kits, zingermans.com.
Rick Steves Takes on Italian Food
Rick Steves, a prolific author of travel guides, meets Fred Plotkin, a prolific food writer, in an authoritative guide to the food of Italy: “Rick Steves Italy for Food Lovers.” Both have covered the territory in the past, but this volume holds a magnifying glass over the dinner plate and goblet. The book goes region by region, giving shorter shrift to the likes of the Trevi fountain and more in-depth coverage of subjects like pecorino Romano and 14 typically Roman pastas. Throughout, surveys of local foods and wines include their history and where to find them. As a treasured accessory for novice travelers, it will be second only to a passport; more experienced hands will value the authors’ suggested restaurants, mostly insider tips that don’t make the usual lists. Charts explain pastas and Italian coffee drinks, there’s a glossary and two pages of useful words and phrases. An information-packed map is included.
“Rick Steves Italy for Food Lovers” by Rick Steves and Fred Plotkin (Avalon Travel, $24.99, paper).
The Ultimate Snack for the Super Bowl
Perhaps even more crowd-pleasing than the halftime show are pigs in blankets to nibble. A new source for the cocktail hour tidbits is Ipsa Provisions, the high-quality Brooklyn-based frozen food purveyor whose version offers tiny grass-fed beef sausages swaddled in puff pastry. Straight from the freezer, they require about 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven; you supply the mustard. Keep a few packages on hand for the next time you scratch your head for what to serve with a drink — they complement every cocktail in the book.
Ipsa Provisions Pigs in a Blanket, $14 for 12, eatipsa.com.
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