Seasonal Pantry and Righteous Cheese are celebrating fall this month with classes in seasonal cider and cheese pairings. The intimate classes allow participants to delve right into the creamy world of cheese, homemade compotes and beverage pairings with fromager Carolyn Stromberg.
The cheese classes will take place on Monday, November 12th at 7 pm at Seasonal Pantry (1314 9th Street NW) and on Thursday, November 15 at 7 pm at Stromberg’s new shop in Union Market (1309 5th Street NW), Righteous Cheese. Each class is $49 and limited to 12 participants. Tickets are available online.
Stromberg will also host Righteous Cheese’s grand opening on Saturday, November 10th at Union Market. The fully-stocked cheese counter will include more than 70 hand-picked and unique cheeses. Righteous Cheese is open from 8 am until 8 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, and is also open Wednesday through Friday 11 am until 8 pm.
Stromberg’s monthly cheese class will feature bites from Vermont to Wisconsin and New York, paired with three autumnal American craft beers and housemade accompaniments by Seasonal Pantry‘s Dan O’Brien.
The cost of the cheese pairing is $49, and each class is limited to 12 participants. October’s cheese classes will be held on October 15 and October 29 at 7 pm at Seasonal Pantry (1314 9th Street NW). Tickets are available online.
Carolyn Stromberg knows cheese. And unlike most artisan cheeses, Stromberg has deep District roots.
The George Washington University alum cultivated her passion for sheep, cow and goat-derived dairy through experiences in well-known restaurants and cheese shops in (and around DC), plus a trip or two through Europe.
Now, the cheese guru and owner of Righteous Cheese (which opened this September at Union Market) is offering the public an opportunity to learn about the art of cheese through her intimate (and snob-free) monthly Cheese Course Classes at Seasonal Pantry and Righteous Cheese.
Recently, I purchased a ticket and joined Stromberg at a rustic community table with 10 local residents to pick her brain and learn more about, well, cheese.
The class I attended at Seasonal Pantry (where Stromberg runs the shop’s cheese program) explored six cheeses and three wines, all from Northern Italy.
Like myself, the other participants did not have culinary degrees. They were not fromagers or sommeliers, nor did they have any intention to be. They were just regular people enjoying an evening of wine and cheese, possibly hoping to pick-up a few tips useful for hosting future dinner or cocktail parties.
Throughout the two-hour class, Stromberg went through each pairing, carefully explaining the cheese’s history, how the cheese was made, how long it aged, when it is best to eat the cheese and what you should eat with the cheese. In between bites, participants asked questions and commented on how each pairing tasted.
Stromberg did an amazing job at thoughtfully responding to each person’s question/comment, and was able to answer everything without so much as a blink.
Pointers from Class
In case you are wondering, here are a few pointers I picked-up from the class:
- Prosecco is your best wine pick for a tasting. If you are looking to serve a selection of cheeses the next time you host, a Prosecco (or sparkling wine) is the best pairing for most. This is because the bubbles in the wine act like a palate cleanser, while the subtle, sweet flavor of Prosecco contrasts nicely with the saltiness of cheese.
- Always serve from mild to strong. Start with a nice, mild cheese and work your way to the stronger picks (like a blue cheese). Those over-powering blues are hard for your palate to forget if you devour them first.
- What grows together, goes together. Just like our produce, cheeses are also seasonal, since the grass the animal grazes on differs, depending on the time of year. Because cheese often reflects seasonality, stick to pairing cheeses with flavors, meats, vegetables and/or condiments from the same season.
- Finally, a use for dessert wines. If you are like me and shudder at the thought of drinking a dessert wine, don’t be so quick to judge the sugary bottles. Dessert wines pair beautifully with salty cheeses. Like Paula Abdul said, opposites attract.
So if you are interested in learning more about cheese, in an intimate, unpretentious and completely un-judged way, look no further than Stromberg’s Cheese Course Classes.
October’s dates are not yet set, but keep checking back on the website for upcoming class dates and times.
Can’t wait until the next class? Stromberg’s new space at Union Market, Righteous Cheese, has a 10-seat bar that offers wine and cheese (and beer and cheese) flight pairings.
Union Market is currently open Friday (11 am until 8 pm) Saturday (8 am until 8 pm) and Sunday (8 am until 8 pm). In November, the Market will expand its operating hours and open six days a week.
The small batch artisanal pickling company (read: limited, so go pick up a jar immediately) began in October 2011, and is named after co-owner Sarah Gordon’s dad, with whom she shares a mutual love of pickles. Along with co-owner Sheila Fain, they produce four varieties of pickles in a community kitchen on 9th &V St.
- Signature sweet chips are bread and butter pickles with hints of garlic and ginger;
- Hot Chili Spears includes a spiked brine with chili peppers;
- Thai basil jalapeño pickle are brined in spices that balance the heat, including peppercorn and fennel;
- Sweet pepper relish a savory relish of cucumbers, peppers and onion, pickled together in their signature sweet brine.
“We love pickling because it allows us to preserve the season. We take a vegetable that’s currently in season and enjoy it year round,” said Sheila.
While the 16 oz jars of pickled products may cost a little more at $10 per jar, you’re getting organic cucumbers prepared using a pickling process that helps preserve the natural crunch of the vegetable. And you’re supporting two local women who have self-financed their own business.
“You make incredible personal sacrifices, work around the clock. It’s about growing carefully, even if that means growing a little slowly,” said Fain.
You can pick up Gordy’s Pickle products online and at more than forty retail locations across the country, including Whole Foods, Smucker Farms, Cork and Seasonal Pantry in our neighborhood. If you would like to meet the owners, head over to the Fresh Farm Market in Penn Quarter on Thursdays.
Oh, and their next pickled project? Okra. Just try and beat me to their booth.
Seasonal Pantry and Righteous Cheese are teaming up to host three cheese classes this month. The classes will focus on the food and culture of Northern Italy, especially in the regions of Veneto, Lombardy, Tuscany and Piedmont.
The small classes (limited to 12 people) are held in an intimate setting, allowing participants to fully interact and engage with course instructors and one another.
Each class will feature six cheeses and three wines, with housemade accompaniments by Seasonal Pantry’s Dan O’Brien. Fromager Carolyn Stromberg will tell the story behind each cheese, as well as give practical advice about selecting, serving, pairing and more. Each class is $49; tickets are available online.
Upcoming Dates for The Cheese Course
- Monday, September 17, 7 pm at Seasonal Pantry
- Monday, September 24, 7 pm at Seasonal Pantry
- Saturday, September 22, 3 pm at Righteous Cheese (at Union Market)
Coffee. Coffee. Wine. That’s pretty much the schedule of drinks in most of my days. But the guys at Capital Kombucha have given me a pretty good reason to add tea to that list.
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that that was first created more than 2,000 years ago, according to Capital Kombucha co-founder Andreas Schneider. The drink’s ingredients include brewed tea, Kombucha culture, sugar and handmade flavors.
Schneider says most of the sugar is evaporated in the fermenting process, and that what’s left are the antioxidants associated with tea and a distinct probiotic quality (read: your intestinal tract will love you).
Schneider, along with his friends John Lee and Dan Lieberman, began to bottle Kombucha seriously in February of this year. The three met last fall as classmates in the George Washington University MBA program, which they will complete next year. Today, they bottle and prepare Kombucha locally from a commercial kitchen on Georgia Avenue, using ingredients from DC Central Kitchen’s Nutrition Lab to craft their hand-prepared flavors.
So what does Kombucha taste like? Imagine a tart fruit drink that is lighter than juice, but sweeter than water. A bottle of Capital Kombucha will set you back around $3.50, but the flavors are interesting enough to give it a try; they include Mango Chile, Basil Lemongrass, Mint Lime and Peach.
Schneider says their drinks pair well with smoothies and cocktails. He recommends testing out the two recipes below.
Capital Kombucha Bellini
- 1 Raspberry
- 2 Ounces chilled Peach Capital Kombucha
- 3 Ounces chilled prosecco or champagne
- In a champagne flute, lightly muddle raspberries before adding kombucha.
- Slowly pour over prosecco or champagne, stir and serve.
Booch Berry Mojito
- 5 blueberries OR raspberries
- 4 mint leaves
- 2 oz. Mint Lime Capital Kombucha
- 2 oz. white rum
- ½ oz lime juice
- ½ oz simple syrup *
- ½ oz soda water
- Ice (crushed or cubed)
- Add mint leaves, blueberries/raspberries, lime juice and simple syrup to a glass. Muddle ingredients firmly for 30 seconds (berries should be crushed).
- Add 2 oz. Mint Lime Capital Kombucha and 2 oz. white rum to the glass and mix with a spoon.
- Add ice and ½ oz of soda water.
- To really impress the guests garnish the glass by sliding one mint sprig or raw sugar cane into the glass.
* Simple syrup is equal parts sugar and water, then heated to dissolve. To make a simple syrup, bring 16 oz. of water to a boil, add 16 oz. of sugar, turn off heat, stir until dissolved. Allow syrup to cool before pouring.
For those who agree that the dog days of summer are best left to craft beer and cheese, listen up.
On Monday, August 20th and 27th, the Seasonal Pantry (1314 9th Street NW) will host cheese and beer pairings at the market’s Cheese Course classes.
The intimate class delves into six different cheeses and three different craft beers, along with housemade accompaniments by Seasonal Pantry’s Dan O’Brien.
Each class is $49 and is limited to 12 participants. For more information and tickets, visit the event’s website. Spread the word!
A few years ago, supper clubs were for an exclusive few. Often held in secret, these table-laden societies of foodies were served meals from home, sometimes prepared by certain reputable chefs.
Today, these diners gather rather less auspiciously, as flash mobs, or perhaps in a New York subway car. They use technology like Grub with Us to self-select their dinner companions and groups like MeetUp to find table-mates who share the same palate.
At Seasonal Pantry, the dinner can range between $60 to $100 per plate, but more often than not a standard meal is $63 without wine, or $83 with wine pairings throughout the meal.
In DC, Chef Daniel O’Brien wants to make the experience even more democratic — by inviting you directly to his kitchen for dinner. O’Brien is the owner of Seasonal Pantry, the narrow storefront at 1314½ 9th Street NW, as well as the foundling SUNdeVICH, with his partner Ali Bagheri. Seasonal Pantry stocks such items as homemade pasta, cheeses and charcuterie, plus some prepared foods.
This small corner of the world has shelves lined with canned goods made throughout the week by O’Brien himself, a former sous-chef of Bibiana and Equinox. But O’Brien is used to tight spaces — he used to run his supper club out of his own kitchen and the kitchens of others.
On evenings when the foodies convene, the store boasts just enough space for a preparation table for O’Brien, two waiters and the long table that will allow ten guests, often strangers, to share conversation and a meal. It is like Outstanding in the Field meets HUSH supper club. According to health codes, this location is technically listed as a grocery store, and that will be O’Brien’s battle to fight as the crowds gather and the desire for space at the table grows.
O’Brien, who is overtly passionate about his supper-club idea, chooses the menu based on seasonal themes. For the week of September 15, guests will be served four courses including crab with avocado, garlic; sweetbreads with pepper, pineapple, sweet & sour sauce; lamb shank with couscous, apricot and mint; and a dessert that had not yet been announced. The dinner can range between $60 to $100 per plate, but more often than not a standard meal is $63 without wine, or $83 with wine pairings throughout the meal.
Seatings, which are offered Thursday through Saturday evening, often sell out in advance, so head to the Seasonal Pantry website to reserve your place at the table.