Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sophia's Greek yogurt

Our very favorite children's librarian (Cathy at the Somerville Public) was very insistent that I should carry her favorite yogurt - so much so that she brought me a pint to take home and taste on my time and her dime. Friends, this is how you get things done. I was blown away by the yogurt from Sophia's Greek Pantry in Belmont.

That's me with a bucket of yogurt, and about a mouthful of it hanging off the concave side of a spoon. How thick is this yogurt? It would have hung there for several minutes, I imagine, until the warmth of my hand dislodged it from the spoon – indefinitely, really. Once it drops on the floor, it's almost thick enough to caulk your floorboards with. I chose instead to eat it. "Holy cow," I exclaimed, before I realized this isn't a cow product at all. Sophia tells me it is half sheep's milk and half goat's milk, both obtained from Worcester, Vermont. The only goat and sheep farm that Google can find for me in Worcester is Frostbite Falls Farm, which (correct me) may have the distinction of being the world's only Caprid farm named after the home town of a fictional moose.

So what's this mean to you? If you're Cathy the librarian, it means you don't need to drive to Belmont for yogurt any more. If you are a person who already buys yogurt, then this means that your granola-and-fruit experience (or what have you) just got much more engrossing. (As an aside, we also just received a dozen pints of organic Florida strawberries via Enterprise Farm.) If you bought the other Greek stuff from the supermarket, you now have the option of keeping your money nearer by; as I mentioned this supply chain goes back only as far as Worcester, VT – that's 187 miles if you take I-89 – in three steps, including the Sherman. AND I'll wager you'll like this stuff better that the national brands.

The real hooplah though is what this yogurt can do that other sorts of yogurt can't. Because I am stubborn about bothering to read recipes, I've been wondering for some time why my attempts at yogurt-based curries and related dishes have come out a curdled, watery mess. Had I bothered to look it up first I might have noticed that the yogurt to use is strained yogurt, which refuses to curdle as a result of its higher fat content (and conversely, lower water content). I learned this from the Wikipedia page "Strained yoghurt", where I also spotted this photo:

That's a generous spoonful of strained yogurt relaxing on a bed of olive oil. This took me by surprise, but seems very appealing. If you're like me, you've never eaten yogurt in such a context like this, and would be tempted to tart it up with some cracked pepper, or sumac, or other Mediteranean herbs, or a squeeze of lemon juice, or some sea salt, or...

Anyway, it sounds delicious. My dad also used to eat yogurt over scrambled eggs and tomato slices, and I bet this yogurt would be great in that dish. We sell this for $4.25/# in pint and quart containers, or however much or little you care for; it's also worth mentioning that the Sherman Café plans on switching to Sophia's yogurt to accompany our house granola within the next few days, so if you're skeptical, you can come in and try it yourself. I am convinced you'll find it delicious and did I mention that it is astonishingly, preposterously, mind-bogglingly grumose?


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Organic Rye Flour

Recently arrived courtesy the Crown of Maine Organic Co-Op is organic rye flour from Aurora Mills & Farm in Linneus, Maine. I've just now packed this lovely stuff into pint and quart containers, at the expense of my black dress shirt, now covered in a faint patina of stray flour. We sell it for $1.50/#, which it's fair to say is dirt cheap for an organic, New England product.

About Rye: it's a grain (obviously), first cultivated in what we'd now call Turkey, possibly first harvested by accident due to its resemblance to its more accommodating cousin, wheat (which contains more gluten, and less soluble fiber). Rye is distilled into the characteristic North American spirit, rye whiskey (I strongly recommend Rittenhouse Rye if you can find it), and on less jovial occasions we know the grain as a pillar of the cuisine of Central and Eastern Europe, used in a variety of breads and crackers including the celebrated pumpernickel, or in New England-style brown bread (this in addition to its other, more dubious role in local history).

Doesn't that look tasty? We sell local beans, maple syrup, and slab bacon too, you know. A certain bakery in a neighboring city which will of course remain unnamed makes a very keen version of this bread, in case you are still uninspired. Once you are so inspired, come on in for some flour. I'm selling a lot of it to Cuisine en Locale for their upcoming Viking-related food event which you should of course attend, but the rest of the fifty-pound sack is yours for the taking.