Friday, February 19, 2010

CHABICHOU: the cheese and cheese shop

A few weeks ago, we went to the café / cheese shop / French lunch spot known as Chabichou, and pronouced "Shabby-shoe" after the famous French goat cheese.  Located at 196 Borden St. at Harbord, the owners, Laurent Brion and Whitney Brown, are also very cleverly the owners of Tati Bistro - located just down the street.
Tati Bistro is a full on restaurant but is open only for dinner, whereas Chabibou has a small and functional kitchen and is more of a lunch spot and specialty store.  In the former, Laurent can make such wonderful items as Soupe de Poisson, Sauce aux Tomates, and Cassoulet which are bottled and sold in large mason jars at Chabichou.  The shelves host a wealth of other food specialties, from olive oils, to pasta, tarallini, and beautiful French candies.
Approximately 80% of the 60 or so cheeses in the shop yield from France, with the remainder coming from allover - but with a strong Quebec showing.
As it turns out, Laurent's mother owned a goat farm where he used to make goat milk cheese back in France - so he knows of what he speaks (and sells).

A few notes regarding Chabichou cheese (seen in the far left of the above photo):
  • Chabichou du Poitou is made in a very limited geographic area above the chalky soils of the threshold of Poitou, south of the Loire valley. Chabichou du Poitou is a small pyramid like mound of goat cheese.
  • Chabichou du Poitou production can be either fermier (made on farms), co-operative or industrial. Obviously, the first is considered as being the best.
  • Tasting Chabichou: Always great - but the flavours change as it matures. Good to eat young (3 weeks), ripe (6 weeks) or more dry (2 months), Chabichou has a rich goaty flavor. When mature, the cheese is dense and smooth with a distinct layer next tot he rind. Although sweet and delicate, the taste is slightly acidic and salty at the finish.
  • Tasting advice: Chabichou is great as a dessert cheese to finish meals. Chabichou is best when made with spring-summer milk, when the goats are enjoying fresh pastures.
  • Chabichou and wine: White Loire wine such as Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé (it is all about terroir afterall!)
We were there to do some on-site photos with the various cheeses and other delicacies we found in-store.  Chabichou is presently closed Mondays so we enjoyed having the run of the shop.  A cheese of particular interest was the massive wheel of the Swiss "Abondance", selling at $6.10 /100 gr. - the wheel was going for $593 and change.  I love fondue, but even I have my limites.

photos by Michael Kohn.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Heroes: Real & Reel

I am not a big watcher of television, I have nothing whatsoever against it - it is just that my day seems to fly by and I haven't even caught a glimpse of the screen.  All that is about to change however - what the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games opening in less than 48 hours.  When not working, I plan to spend some serious time in front of the screen - as do my kids, they are equally deprived and plan on making up for lost screen time.  I am very excited about the Games but wish that the media would cease their chatter regarding "our" medal count.  I cannot even imagine the pressure that the Canadian athletes must be feeling, in my books they are all heroes just for qualifying. 

I do work on television ads, yet it seems that I rarely get to view them, let alone get a demo reel.  Within the past two weeks, I worked on two ads; one for frozen fish and another for a new frozen pizza entrée.  The latter was an involved shoot, with multiple locations, a large crew,  and a few 15.5 hour days of on-set work.  It would seem that some of the components and product did not make it through the Canadian border, (protecting us from what I do not know), so one of my primary assignments was to salvage "hero" quality pepperoni from regular product which was later incorporated into newly constructed and television worthy "heroes". 

I do spend a fair amount of time in grocery stores - where I do get to see some of my work on packaging.  Just before Christmas, I worked on the packaging for two new SKUs coming out from our friends at ACE Bakery.  I look forward to seeing those in the not too distant future.  
I styled these Catelli SKUs a couple of years ago and they are still being used, a familiar face in grocery stores across the country.  Photography by Michael Mahovlich.