Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Eve Pairing and Hours

Special New Year's Eve Hours:

Broadway and Lake St. locations are open until 7pm. The French Market will be closing at 6pm. All three locations will be closed on New Year's Day.

This coming Saturday, January 2nd the French Market will be closing at 4pm and our stores on Lake St. and Broadway will be open regular business hours (11am-6pm and 11am-7pm respectively).

The new school term is upon us. A new term of classes start this January and are available online. Due to time constraints our classes are only held at our free-standing stores at Broadway and Lake St.

And now for the pairing. This week we went with something bubbly. A delicious non-vintage Brut from Domaine Saint-Vincent in Albuquerque, NM.

Domaine Saint-Vincent is a sparkling wine produced by the Gruet family. They produce more than one million bottle of French Champagne every year, and the Domaine Saint-Vincent it a second brand of theirs. Made using the Champenoise method where the second fermentation isn't pumped into the wine, but instead happens in the bottle. This wine is dry with a fruity and nutty aroma and a slight earthy undertones.

While you could pair the DSV with a variety of soft, creamy cheeses (St. Marcellin, St. Felicien, Nancy's Camembert to name a few) Delice du Jura is our selection this week. If you are familiar with Reblochon de Savoie you are going to love this cheese. This pasteurized little cousin from the Haute-Jura region of France has a mild buttery flavor with hints of mushrooms and pasture. A definite crowd pleasing cheese!

From Ken, Greg, Jan, Cesar and all of the other hard-working, fun-loving, cheese-adoring, wine-"sampling", bread-baking, meat-slicing, sandwich-making, behind the counter dancing, cookie "quality control" staff we'd like to wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Pairing and hours

Please note that all three of our locations will be closing at 6pm on Christmas Eve, and will be closed on Christmas Day. Give us 24 hours and we'll take care of any of your last-minute catering or gift basket needs for local pick-up only (delivery schedule is completely booked).

Our pairing this week is a new working on a classic. Stichelton and Port (no picture available)

Stichelton is a blue cheese hand-selected for us by the folks at Neal's Yard Dairy in London. Only available at a select few cheese shops in the world, this is a raw milk cheese very similar to the classic English Stilton, but a fantastic cheese in it's own right. 100% handmade, this cheese has a full flavor with a succulent buttery texture. Delicious on it's own, or of course with the classic Stilton choice, Port.

Graham's Six Grapes Reserve Port has a seductive, rich aroma of ripe plums, cherries and dark chocolate with a long, lingering finish. Six Grapes is one of Graham's original Port blends. It is a very full-bodied, luscious wine drawn from the same vineyards as Graham's Vintage Ports. Blended from two or three years' harvests, the wine is an average of five to six years old when it is lightly filtered and bottled.

Delicious combination just in time for the holiday season!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Weekend Pairing

For this pairing we're going Old World. First to France for the Champy Cote du Beaune Village Burgundy. An earthy wine with medium to soft tannins and a long complex finish. A wine that changes throughout the bottle, getting more complex and reveling new complexities as you enjoy.

Then let's take a trip to Spain for the cheese. Leonora is a young goat's milk cheese. Aged for at least three months this cheese has a distinct lemon zestiness to it with a slight earthy mushroom quality. If you like Bucheron this cheese is right up your alley.

Still looking for a last minute gift? We have a great selection of gifts that are just ready to go. Come in, pick up a gift starting at under $25 and get on with your day. We can help you take the stress out of your holiday shopping. gift certificates in any denomination, gift baskets (we respectfully request 24 hrs. notice for gift baskets), cheese, wine, charcuterie, books or classes, we've got just the right thing for the foodie in your life.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pairing and Free Wine Demo!

Stop by the Chicago French Market on Saturday 12/12 from 3-6pm for a wine tasting. Lawrence Mawby will be there pouring some of his delicious Blanc de Blanc and Blanc de Noir. Sam Simpson of Good Harbor will also be there pouring some of his Trillium and Fishtown White.

We've got a really special pairing this week. Queso de la Serena and Illahe Gruner Veltliner. Queso de la Serena is a big, full flavored sheep's milk cheese from Spain. What makes this soft, creamy cheese unique is that it is made with cardoon thistle rennet which only enhances the cheese. Full flavors of roasted lamb and grassiness with a buttery smooth texture that can't be beat!

What to pair with such a big cheese? Jan has got the answer! From Illahe vineyards in Oregon we are pairing their Gruner Veltliner with the Queso de la Serena. This medium bodied wine has great chalky mineral notes with a bit of pepper and white grapefruit. The fruity aspects in the wine help bring out the fruity and milky qualities of the cheese. Try them both together at any of our three locations this weekend.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chicago French Market Opens Tomorrow!

We are all a-twitter! After months of planning, carpentry, licensing, glass work, goods ordering and tearing out a hair or two we are pleased to announce that Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine will be opening at the Chicago French Market tomorrow (Dec. 3) at 10 am.

The outside awning of what promises to be a food extravaganza in Chicago!

Making our presence known

We've got a great location and gorgeous windows!

A few of the Pastoral elves who make it all happen! Manager Cristi (on the phone), Assistant Manager Nat, Dana and Ryne two of our wonderful employees.

We've got a few guest stars lined up for the grand opening this weekend. Take a look at our facebook fan page for all the details. The Chicago French Market has a few grand opening perks as well. Be one of the first 500 customers each day from Dec. 3-9 and you'll receive a market bag. Gift Certificates will be distributed on Friday & Saturday and of course the big prize: you could win a four night trip to Paris for two! Check it out here.

We also have a wine and cheese pairing for this week.* Featuring the Pantaleo, a goat milk cheese from Sardinia and 2006 Massaya "Classic", a Cinsault/Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah blend from Lebanon.

The Pantaleo is a firm ivory goat milk cheese with a floral and sweet flavor with just a hint of the citrusy finish you expect in a goat cheese. Massaya is a big bold red, perfect for people who love wines from Chile and Argentina but are looking for something new.

*Due to Chicago liquor laws, Pastoral at the French Market will not be carrying wine until next week.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Visit from Jasper Hill

This past Tuesday I had the honor of escorting Zoe Brickley from the Cellars at Jasper Hill to visit some of Pastoral's restaurant accounts. Zoe is an accomplished cheese-monger who moved to Greensboro VT last summer to work with our friends Mateo and Andy and their crew.

She brought samples of a new cheese from their caves called Landaff, which is a cow's milk tomme inspired by Caerphilly that will be available soon, plus some wedges of the amazing Cabot Clothbound Cheddar.

After chatting with our Lake St. staff, Zoe and I toured the Loop, stopping in to several kitchens to see Chef Heather Terhune from Atwood Cafe, Bryce Caron at Custom House, and Chef Meg Colleran and her team at Terzo Piano. The Landaff was very well received, and it was a pleasure tasting with such a knowledgeable gal and such a fine roster of chefs.

Next we headed to Old Town Social on North Ave, where Yoni and Chef Jared presented us with an array of their incredible house-made charcuterie. These guys sell a ton of Cabot Cheddar, along the with 11 other cheeses on their board.

After a whirlwind behind the scenes tour of the soon-to-open French Market on Clinton, we dined at Sepia, another restaurant with a thoughtful list of American artisan cheeses. The food was gorgeous and abundant and the service was top notch.

Thanks to Zoe for a wonderful day behind the scenes, and thanks to our Chefs for making us feel so welcome. We look forward to enjoying the fruits of Jasper Hill's cellars!

Lisa Futterman, Pastoral Wholesale Accounts

Friday, November 20, 2009

Weekly Pairing and Holiday News

The Chicago Loop Alliance, in partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository has come up with a "Winter Wonderloop" project. Please help us help others this holiday season with your donation of any non-perishable foods.

This Saturday we will be offering another free tasting at our Broadway location from 3pm-6pm. Stop by for a taste of some delicious wines and beer and get your holiday libations in advance!

We are also offering specialty breads from Bennison's for your holiday festivities. This year we have the always popular Cranberry Pecan bread and a new addition to the roster, Apple Cider bread. Call either store to pre-order your loaves.

This week for our pairing we're going French. The cheese this week is Abondance de Savoie. Named for the breed of cattle whose milk is used to make the cheese, this cheese dates back to the late 1800's. Sweet and nutty with a slight grassiness, this cheese has a rich and complex flavor that is sure to please the Alpine cheese lover.

For wine Jan suggest the 2005 Domaine Brusset "Chabrille" from Cairrane, France. This small production wine comes from a single village. This wine has a long finish with a lot of bacon, loam and cedar in the nose. This wine is full of old-world funk and glory.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Too Much Information For A Headline

We are proud to announce that our Conspicuous Consumption collection has been named as one of Oprah's favorite things in the holiday issue of O Magazine.

After much anticipation we are thrilled to tell you that our shelves have a few new additions. Here's a teaser of some of the new artisan products that Cesar found on his spring tour of Italy. Rustic chocolates, nougat, spreads both savory and sweet and all from small artisan producers. Come in and check out our delicious additions!

We also have a new cheese and wine pairing featured this week. The 2006 Chono Cabernet Sauvignon "Reserva" from Chile. This big earth-friendly, easy-drinking Cab is big on fruit and pairs well with firm cheeses.

Speaking of cheese, we've a brand new addition to the cheese case, Prairie Breeze Cheddar from Milton Creamery in Milton, Iowa. Aged for 6 months, this cheddar has a sharpness that is well balanced with a slightly sweet grassiness.

Don't forget to stop by the Broadway shop tomorrow from 3-6pm as we offer a free tasting of several different bottles of red and white.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Free Wine Tastings and Pairing

This Saturday is our free Saturday wine tasting at the Loop location from 6:30-8pm. The theme this month is holiday wines. Wines not just great for the season, but ones that will make your holiday feast even more delicious.

This Saturday we're also trying a new event at our Lakeview location. We are going to be doing a free tasting this Saturday from 3-6pm. We will be pouring samples from four different bottles.

We also have a new pairing. The cheese is from Hillis Peak from Pholia Farm Creamery in Rogue River, Oregon. Made from a small herd on a farm that is off the grid, this goat's milk cheese is rubbed in a mix of oil and paprika and aged for up to six months. Nutty and sharp with a pleasant earthiness this is a great example of American artisan cheesemaking.

For the wine we go to Lodi, California and Benson Ferry Vineyards for their 2006 Zinfandel "Nine x Nine". A full bodied wine this red has dark, rich flavors of blackberries and coffee. Big enough to stand on it's own, but delicate enough to compliment foods without dominating the palate.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Gifting Catalog and New Pairing

After a lot of thought and tasting, a lot of going back and forth with proofing and photo editing we are proud to announce a new Pastoral gifting catalog! We have new collections featuring cheeses and products exclusive to Pastoral, cheeses of the Midwest, fantastic cheesemakers who are making a difference, and an Italian collection filled with some of the great finds Cesar discovered while in Italy this past Spring! Check out all the new gifts on our website.

In other news, we have a new pairing for the week featuring Coolea and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Forth Family Vineyards.

Coolea is a cow's milk cheese made in the small village of Coolea in Ireland (handpicked for us by the Neal's Yard Dairy folks) made by the Willems family. Handmade wheels aged for at least two years and made in the tradition of Dutch Goudas this cheese has a sweet mellow flavor with nuttiness and caramel overtones that we deeply appreciate in an aged cheese. If you enjoy the two and five year Goudas in our cheese case, you will absolutely adore the Coolea.

From Mendocino, California we have a fairly new wine to our shelves. The "Histoire" 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from Forth Family Vineyards is quickly becoming a staff and customer favorite. You'll find this wine in the full-bodied section of our wine wall. Big dark fruity flavors and aromas with a big rich flavor, this wine is a perfect accompaniment to the impending cooler weather.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Loop Store Anniversary and New Pairing

Come and join us this coming Friday, October 23 as we celebrate the second anniversary of our Loop location. Of course there will be lovely cheeses to nibble and we'll be pouring tastes of the Domaine Saint-Vincent from New Mexico. The celebration starts at 4pm and ends when the cheese tray and bubbly samples are gone.

We've got a new pairing this week also. Our featured cheese is the Stichelton from Nottinghamshire, England-hand selected for us from the fabulous affineurs at Neal's Yard Dairy. This 100% handmade, non-pasteurized blue cheese has a creamy butteriness to it with just the right amount of blue spiciness.

For libation, Jan suggests you pour yourself a glass of the Two Brothers Coffee Bean Porter "Red Eye". This is a dark, robust and powerful beer well balanced with rich chocolate and coffee notes. A perfect companion for the slightly fudgy consistency and spicy flavor profile of Stichelton.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


First, we are proud and grateful to LTH Forum for awarding GNR awards for both of our stores in our first year of eligibility. We were in great company and would like to give kudos to the wonderful staff. The passion for what we do is evident in the knowledge and expertise of our employees.

Next up we want to give a boisterous congratulations to the folks at Death's Door Spirits for their award for best new spirits in the October issue of Wine & Spirits. A smooth gin filled with aromas andflavors of juniper berries and spices this is a local favorite made right here in the Midwest in Wisconsin.

Finally we would like to give a big huge resounding round of applause to all of our cheesy friends who won at the Guild of Fine Foods World Cheese Awards. While we are happy for all of our international friends (including British Cheddars, Idiazabal and Tallegio) , American cheeses also did a great job of bringing home the gold, silver and bronze, showing that when it comes to cheese we are strong competitors.

To name a few: Cypress Grove Chevre (CA), Carr Valley Cheese (WI), Vermont Butter & Cheese Co. (VT), The Cellars at Jasper Hill (VT). Haystack Mountain (CO), Marin French Cheese (CA), Seymour Dairy Products (WI), Grafton Village Cheese Co. (VT), Hollands Family Cheese (WI), Uplands Cheese Co. (WI), Satori Foods (WI), and many others. Thank you all for making wonderful cheeses and congratulations on your wins!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Weekly Pairing & Saturday Events

This coming Saturday we've got two great events going on. At our Broadway store from 1-3pm we have a special event with Mike and Carol Gingrich of Uplands Cheese Company in Dodgeville, WI.

Then, later that same night we have our Oktoberfest Tasting from 6:30-8pm at the Lake St. store featuring local beers and cheeses. If you saw our bit on "1st look" you know that beer and cheese are very good friends indeed.

Speaking of local beer, Avalon Spiced Ale is one half of our new pairing. From Two Brothers Brewing Company in Warrenville, IL. The spices and apple flavor contribute to the aroma, but upon sipping don't overwhelm the smooth flavors of the beer. This is sure to be a fall and winter favorite!

For cheese we're pairing the Brie de Meaux from France, one of the most well-known cheese in the world. This might look like a mild and demure cheese, but that's far from the truth. This cheese is earthy with mushroom and onion qualities to it making it one of the bigger cheeses in the bloomy rind part of our cheese case. A cheese like this does very well with the tart, spiced nature of the Avalon.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Meet the Maker Event-Masters edition

So Thursday we had an event featuring Allison Hooper of Vermont Butter & Cheese, one of the pioneers in bringing goat cheese to the American cheese board. This coming Saturday we are continuing what I'm now calling our "Meet the Maker-Masters edition".

This time around it's Mike and Carol Gingrich two of the owners and cheesemakers of Uplands Cheese Company-makers of Pleasant Ridge Reserve in Dodgeville, WI.

Pleasant Ridge Reserve is a raw, cow's milk, farmstead, artisan cheese made from seasonal milk. Made in the style of Alpine cheeses like Gruyere and Comte this is a unique and original cheese from right here in the Midwest.

Winners of numerous awards, including the title of "Best In Show" from the ACS not once, but twice. Come by Broadway on Saturday, Oct. 17 from 1-3pm and meet Mike and Carol and taste one of our favorite cheeses and meet some more Masters from the cheese world.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Weekly Pairing

This week we are taking a favorite cheese of both staff and customers alike and pairing it with one of our new wines.

For cheese this week we have the Five year Gouda from The Netherlands. After five years of aging this cheese has a crystalline texture with pleasing notes of honey, caramel and scotch whiskey. Lovely on a cheese board or grated into your favorite dish.

But what to pair with this big cheese? Jan recommends one of the new additions to our wine wall. 2008 Bodegas Benaza Godello from Monterrei in the northwest part of Spain. If you came to our free wine tasting last Saturday you may have tried this handmade wine there.

This is a weighty wine that is all chalk and peaches. If you've enjoyed Albarinos in the past you are going to love this wine too. A complex finish and mouthwatering acidity make this wine a perfect complement to the richness of the Gouda.

We have a wine 101 class this coming Saturday at the store on Lake St., and next Saturday, October 17th we are having our Oktoberfest celebration at the Lake St. store. Seats are still available and can be purchased here.

Pastoral on TV!

This Saturday Night (After SNL) and Sunday Eve the late news---check local listings.

Pastoral is slated (and ELATED!!) to be featured nationally on LX.TV 1st Look this Saturday night, October 10, and again on Sunday night, October 11 If you're in one of the following markets, check your local listings! LX.TV 1st Look airs on the NBC network, typically after Saturday Night Live and again on Sunday late night. Watch us from these Metropolitan Areas on NBC affiliates: Chicago, IL* New York City NY/NJ/CT* Los Angeles CA* San Francisco CA* Philadelphia PA/NJ* Washington DC/MD/VA* Dallas TX* San Diego CA* Hartford, CT /Springfield MA* Miami, FL* Media segment airdates often shift, but we're hopeful that Pastoral will light up Late Nite television this weekend! Stay tuned

Also featured is one of our favorite local breweries, Flossmoor Station! Watch a cheese and beer tasting at Pastoral featuring some of the Chicagoland's best--- including Goose Island, Two Brothers and Flossmoor.

For more on Flossmoor Click here! 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Events and a Call to Action!

HELP! Join With Illinois' Prairie Fruits Farm to Save Their Threatened Farmland
THE FOLLOWING IS A LETTER TO US ALL FROM OUR FRIENDS LESLIE COOPERBAND AND WES JARRELL OF CHAMPAIGN'S OWN PRAIRIE FRUITS FARM--Makers of delicious, sustainably produced cheeses & organic fruits we love & proudly sell.

Dear Friends of Prairie Fruits Farm: Thank you to those of you who have already hand signed our petition at the Urbana Farmers' Market to stop the proposed extension of Olympian Drive through our beautiful farmland. I have now posted the petition on a website called "IPetition."

This project is NOT a done deal as many have been lead to believe. If we can demonstrate opposition to both local and state government politicians and elected officials, we may be able to redirect their development energies toward more positive and environmentally sound endeavors. 

If you are a resident of the state of Illinois, please go to the IPetitions website and sign the electronic petition. It is important that we garner lots of signatures in the next few weeks before state and federal budget decisions are made. If you are highly motivated and you want to send a note or make a call to either Senator Richard Durbin or Congressman Tim Johnson, their contact information is below:

The Honorable Senator Richard Durbin 309 Hart Senate Bldg. Washington, DC 20510 9 am to 6 pm (202) 224-2152 - ph (202) 228-0400 - fx The Honorable Congressman Tim Johnson 1207 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 Phone: 202-225-2371 Fax: 202-226-0791


Come Meet American Cheese Legend Allison Hooper  and check out her amazing just released book entitled "In a Cheese Maker's Kitchen". It is a sumptuous collaboration of Vermont Butter & Cheese Company's recipes along with renowned chefs: Eric Ripert, Michel Richard, Molly Hansen, Raymond Ost, Alison Lane, Dan Barber, and author Mireille Giliano. Co-founder and cheesemaker Allison Hooper tells the 25 year story of building a business, making cheese and putting it together in the kitchen.

Allison, one of the pioneers in the American Artisan Cheese renaissance (and one of what we fondly refer to as "The Great Ladies of Cheese"), co-founder of famed Vermont Butter & Cheese and recent past president of the American Cheese Society, has a fresh, fun and unique perspective on how cheese has affected the way we live! One of her 1st book signings in the USA! 

Don't forget that our Fall classes, including our first ever Oktoberfest (sign up online) and don't forget to sign up for our Facebook Fan Page or Follow us on Twitter to hear the latest cheesy musings and get inside info.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Meet and Greet Event This Thursday!

This coming Thursday we are honored to be hosting a book signing and meet and greet with Alison Hooper one of the premier cheesemakers in the country.

Allison Hooper is the chairman of the board of the ACS and one of the co-founders of the Vermont Butter & Cheese Company in Websterville, VT (just a bit east of Montpelier). Starting out as an American college student in France she used self-determination and enthusiasm to learn not just animal husbandry and a love of terroir, but the craft of making artisan dairy products.

Today Vermont Butter & Cheese Company is one of the premier makers of butter and cheese in the country-winning more awards than we can count. They have helped bring goat cheese from it's obscure beginnings in this country to a "must have" on any cheese plate. There are even cheeses from Vermont Butter & Cheese Company in shops in France (an astounding accomplishment to be sure).

After working in the business for twenty-five years Allison Hooper has written a book called In a Cheesemaker's Kitchen: celebrating 25 years of artisinal cheesemaking & cooking from Vermont Butter & Cheese & Company.

Come to our Lake St. location this coming Thursday, October 8 from 5pm-7pm, meet and greet with one of the pioneers in the American cheesemaking world and get a copy of her book before it's official release!


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Weekly Pairing and Free Tasting

As the seasons change, our cheese case and wine wall do as well. This week we're showcasing Queso de la Serena from Spain and 2006 Vinaceaous "Red Right Hand" from Australia.

Queso de la Serena is a bold creamy cheese from Extremadura, Spain in the southwest of the country. Rich and buttery, it has notes of grasses, fruits and even roast lamb. Interesting fact: The rennet used in this cheese comes from thistle making this a tangy, grassy, creamy, strong cheese,that is vegetarian friendly.

To drink, we suggest one of our new friends on the wine wall, the "Red Right Hand" from McLaren Vale along the southern coast of Australia. This wine is a blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Temranillo grapes. Plum, raspberry jam, nutmeg and vanilla are well balanced by kid-glove leather and gunsmoke. Complex, mysterious and dark this medium to full bodied wine is a great partner for the big bold flavors of the Queso de la Serena.

Don't forget, this Saturday is our free monthly wine tasting at the Loop location. This month we're featuring "Handmade Wines". Come join us from 6:30pm until the last drop is poured to find out what makes these wines so special.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Pairing

This week we're showcasing Montegrappa from Veneto, Italy and the 2006 Horsley Vineyards Syrah from Dunnigan Hills, California.

Montegrappa is a cows milk cheese that has been around for centuries. Just like it's namesake, the imposing Mount Grappa this cheese is impressive. After aging for eight months the cheese takes on a sweet and slightly nutty flavor. This cheese is great for a cheese board, shaving over a salad, or grating into your pasta.

The Horsley Vineyards Syrah is one of our favorite styles of Syrah. Rich, deeply fruity with lots of spice, earth and leather. This is a medium to full bodied wine with soft tannins. A great glass one it's own, or paired with cheese, roasted meat, chicken and game.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Looking For Something To Do?

This city is full of great things to do and this week we're showcasing a few that we're particularly excited about.
This Thursday you can explore the world of beer pairing at the "A Taste of Fall Event" being held at Goose Island Brewery from 6:30-10:30.  Proceeds benefit the Lincoln Park Community Shelter.

Looking for something creative?  Why not head over to the Lakeview East Festival of the Arts. Saturday from 10-6 and Sunday from 10-5. Take a stroll on Broadway going south from Roscoe to Belmont and check out all of the great works on display. If you visit the Intelligentsia down on Randolph and Wabash you can get a preview of Jason Brammer's art hanging on their walls.

Prefer something more filling?  The Chicago Gourmet event is also going on this weekend.  Chicago has got a lot of food talent, and you've got the opportunity to sample from some of the best chefs and restaurants in the country.  We're also going to be there with a Midwest Cheese Tent and perhaps some special cheese guest stars!  Come on by and visit!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Pairing

This week we've got a new pairing, and a new addition to our cheese case! We'd like to introduce you to "Big Eds" from Saxon Homestead Creamery in Cleveland, WI. Side note: Did you know there are 5 towns with the same name of Cleveland in WI? Confusing

This cheese is made in an Alpine style. A bit nutty, and grassy, but instead of the tang you get with say an Emmenthal or Gruyere, this cheese has a round, buttery sweetness to it making it a great cheese for those who like a cheese that's a bit milder, as well as for those who like a cheese that is complex and layered.

Read all about the creamery, their animals, land, and love for what they do here. Come in and help us welcome our new cheese!

You may have noticed that our wine walls are changing. Some wines are leaving and the new wines for the fall/winter seasons are starting to show up. This week we've got another fantastic new wine for you.

2009 Bodega NQN, "Malma" is a lovely Pinot Noir from Patagonia, Argentina. Rich, full-bodied and drinking now this Pinot is like nothing you've had from Oregon or Burgundy. Super-ripe red fruit and a fantastic mouthfeel make this wine truly unique. If you're a Syrah lover, you've got to give this a try!

Confused by all of the new wines on the shelf or the cheeses in the case? Don't be. Just ask one of our staff to help you out. We're here to help answer any questions you may have, and to tempt you into tasting any cheese that tickles your fancy.

Want to know more about cheese and wine? Sign up for one of our classes! There's a Cheese 101 going on downtown this Saturday and a wine class on Tuesday called Not just Napa Exploring California Wines where Jan will take you on a tour of California wines. You want to pay for the wine, not the realestate. Come in and see why California has much more to offer.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Weekly Pairing

We had the blues for the past two weeks, but this week we've got the greens. One of the superstars of the Green Mountain State is Tarentaise from Spring Brook Farm in Reading, Vermont. Spring Brook Farm Tarentaise won 1st place for Open Category Cow's Milk Cheeses (aged 60 days or more) in the farmstead cheese category a few weeks ago at ACS.

Please go to their website and read about the program that's helping kids get in touch with the land and their food. Learning lessons that can be taught in the classroom, but stay with you longer and mean more after "doing" instead of just reading.

Although made from the milk of the Jersey cow, this cheese is inspired by the traditional cheese of the French Alps. Complex rich, nutty, acidic and reminiscent of the pastures, this farmstead cheese has a lingering finish that changes in each wheel with the seasons.

Wine this week is 2007 Saladini Pilastri Rosso Piceno from Le Marche, Italy (SE of Tuscany). It is made from a traditional blend of Sangiovese and Montepulciano. The grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks and then aged in oak.

Earthy mushroom, ripe cherry, pepper and nutmeg are all well-represented in this classic and traditional blend wine from Italy.

Come and join us at our Lakeview Location this coming Saturday for another installment in our ongoing "Meet the Maker" series. This time it's the wonderful people of McKinley Springs from Washington State.

From 4pm-6pm you'll have the great opportunity to meet one of our favorite producers try some lovely wines, and ask them questions about grapes, vintage, soil, or anything else that you'd like an expert opinion on.

Come join us!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How the new state taxes affect our shelves, and our customers

As you may know, some of the taxes for food and drink in IL recently changed. These changes do affect some of the products that we carry, and we wanted to let you know how the change may affect you.

On September 1, the State of Illinois redefined the term “candy” as it applies to state taxes. Any item containing a mix of chocolate, fruit and/or nuts is now defined as “candy.” These items used to be taxed at the food rate of 2.25%; the state now requires that they be taxed at the general merchandise rate of 10.25%. In addition to the new definition of “candy”, the state now defines any beverage containing added sweeteners as a “soft drink”, subject to the 13.25% tax on those beverages.

The new taxes on wine and spirits are being levied at the distributor level. The wine tax is negligible, and Pastoral is absorbing that cost as a courtesy to our loyal wine buyers. However, the tax on spirits is much greater, and as a result, Pastoral may eventually be forced to change pricing on gin, vodka and other craft spirits.

Friday, September 4, 2009

New Pairing

This week we're working blue. Blu di Bufala to be specific. Everyone knows that water buffalo milk makes a delicious mozzarella, but this week we've got a rare find!

New to our case is the Blu di Bufala from Bergamo, Italy (just east of Milan). Distinctive, and full-bodied, this cheese is a balance of sweetness and the tangy flavors that blue cheese always imparts. A big flavored semi-firm cheese with a pleasant lingering finish that appeals to die-hard blue cheese lovers, and even those who are new to the blues.

For libation we're going down under. From southern Australia we present another new addition to our wine shelves. 2005 Claymore Wines Shiraz "Walk on the Wild Side".

For lovers of Shiraz this is one of the best representation of the grape that Jan has found. Leather, spice and coffee notes are found in this wine. No need to sit on this bottle, it's drinking beautifully right now.

Just a reminder to you all that while we are closed on Monday for Labor Day, we will be opening our doors at the Loop store Saturday, September 5th at 6:30pm until 8:00pm for our free monthly wine tasting. This month's theme is "Harvest Reds". The season is changing as so are our wines. Come in and get a taste of the new finds.


Monday, August 31, 2009

New Class Schedule!

As a special for all of our readers we are offering a sneak peek at our upcoming fall class schedule before it goes live to the general public.

Of course we're offering the classics, like our first class of the season, Cheese 101 on September 19 at the Loop. We've also got some new and exciting classes for this "term" like Cheese 102 for the more advanced turophile and a special Oktoberfest event that you won't want to miss.

Sign up through this link to be sure you get a seat in the cheese or wine class of your dreams!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Pairing

This week we are featuring Big Woods Blue from Shepherd's Way Farms in Minnesota and Matilda from Goose Island Brewery right here in Chicago.

A Belgian-style pale ale, Matilda has a clean, hoppy and slightly spicy flavor profile with an almost floral aroma. Good with Gouda, washed rind cheese, and of course our blue cheese feature.

Big Woods Blue is a big, beefy, creamy blue cheese made from sheep's milk. It has a sharpness like many blue cheeses, but the sheep's' milk gives this cheese a rich creaminess sure to please everyone at your gathering.

In 2005 tragedy struck the folks at Shepherd's Way Farms. A fire went through their birthing barn and a lot of their flock was lost. Many of the ewes that remained were traumatized by the event. Through an outpouring of support from their community and other national organizations the family, farm, and flock are slowly recovering.

Although there are many tough times still ahead for them, and production is slow going, we are happy to see them persevere and proud to carry their delicious cheese in our store.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Vermont Cheesemaker's Festival

I just came back with a cooler full of goodies from the Vermont Cheesemaker's Festival which was held at Shelburne Farms this past Sunday. You didn't make it out this year? Don't worry, I ate enough cheese for all of us. Vermont has more artisan cheesemaker's than any other state and those cheesemaker's make some very fine products.

If you think Vermont is just about Cheddar, you've got another think coming. Camemberts, blues, lovely stinky washed rind cheeses, Alpine style, goat, ash-ripened...the list goes on and on. Vermont has wonderful cheese and the festival is a great opportunity to experience a small fraction of what the Green Mountain State has to offer.

In addition to fabulous cheese, the festival also offered demos including cheesemaking 101, seminars like Cheddar and beer pairing and great food outside of the main festival building. Vermont also has a great beer and wine industry and those folks were at the festival to give everyone a little taste.

The Grafton Truckle is a Vermont treat that has been seen, tasted and devoured right here at Pastoral. The Spring Brook Farm Tarentaise won 1st place in the farmstead category at this year's ACS competition. I had an opportunity to go to the farm while in VT and talk to cheesemaker Tom. Wonderful cheese, great cheesemaker and an exceptional cause!

The Ascutney Mountain and the Vermont Ayr have both seen some time in our case here in Chicago as well. Never in our case for long as they are both hot sellers.

This is one of the many gorgeous views in Vermont (5 minutes before a torrential downpour). This one just happens to be at Jasper Hill Farm. Mateo gave a few of us a seriously extensive tour of the cellars and cheesemaking facility. He showed us a few new cheeses and let us taste, taste, taste. Outstanding day!

This year's festival was sold out and I heard there were tickets on Craigslist for $250! Next year's promises to be another bang-up year for the event. Send an email to get on the list for a first crack at next year's tickets! Great article form the Burlington Free Press about the festival.


Friday, August 21, 2009

New Pairing

This week, fresh of of an ACS win we have Marieke Gouda with Foenegreek. From Holland's Family Farm in Wisconsin. Foenegreek is a seed native to Holland where Marieke is originally from. It has a nutty flavor with a distinct maple aroma and taste. Don't let the aromas fool you, this buttery, creamy , sweet nutty cheese is good anytime, not just a breakfast food.

Jan suggest the 2007 Trace Merlot from Mount Oso Vineyard in California. Forget what you've hear about Merlot, this is a shining example of what a good Merlot tastes like. Aromas of vanilla, blueberries and coffee beans lend depth and lusciousness to this fantastic red. Come in and try a taste of it yourself this weekend. You'll love it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Rumors Are True

You might have been hearing some whispers around town. The question on everyone's mouth is "Is Pastoral opening a new location?" Well, today we can tell you, the answer is YES!

We are excited and pleased to announce that we will be opening a third location at the French Market late this October. For more information and to read the official Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine press release take a look here.

Thank you for your years of support, we look forward to serving our new location with the same great service and quality cheese, bread & wine that you've come to expect from Pastoral.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

We have a winner!

The Pastoral 5th Anniversary Grand Prize Winner is....drum rolllllll please......Chris Comerford!!! 6 mos cheese & wine---congrats!!

Thanks to all of you who participated and helped make our anniversary fun-and possible. Here's to another five!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Weekend Pairing

What goes with bubbly? The answer is the rich mouth-feel of a triple cream cheese.

This week we have two. Fist we have the Mt. Tam from Cowgirl Creamery in California. This organic, slightly sweet, milky, buttery, mushroomy cheese is a staff and customer favorite. This cheese also won 2nd place in it's category at the ACS competition in 2008.

The second cheese is also a triple cream cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. Fresh off of it's 2nd place all around win at the ACS competition in Austin last week, we are proud to present Red Hawk. This is also an organic milk cheese with a buttery texture and flavor. By washing the rind with a brine solution you get a russet colored cheese with beefy and fruity flavors.

The wine that Jan picked for us this week is the Tabenero from Peru. Yes, Peru. Peru is a developing wine region to watch! Why is sparkling wine and champagne so good with rich, buttery creamy cheeses? In Jan's words,

"The acid makes your mouth water, mimicking the sensation of hunger, encouraging you to
take another bite, another sip. The acid "cleans" your mouth after each bite of rich,
creamy cheese, giving you a clean slate, and encouraging you to have one more bite."

The Tabenero is made from chenin blanc grapes and is dry, not sweet. It delivers a crisp, clean mouthwatering tartness that make it a perfect accompaniment for cheese, or just about anything else you're eating. Sparkling wine isn't just for the extraordinary occasion, it's for any occasion!


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Newsletter Update

CELEBRATE PASTORAL'S 5-YEAR ANNIVERSARY THIS SUNDAY, AUGUST 16: Free Mini-Baguettes at Broadway to the First 100 Customers! Stop in For a Nibble

Pastoral Outdoor Cafe Follow Us On Twitter For a Chance to Win Our Grand Prize: Sign Up Now-Don't Miss Out!

We can't believe it's been five years since we opened the doors of our cozy 382 sq ft storefront on East Lakeview's pedestrian hub of Broadway, but time flies when you are having fun! Ken and I fled Corporate America to follow our culinary dream and you lent us your loyal support. Words cannot express our gratitude!

Please stop by our original location at 2945 N Broadway anytime during business hours this Sunday (11 am til 6 pm) and have a sip and a nibble on us and also give us a chance to thank you in person for your patronage. The first 100 customers also receive one of our delicious Mini-Baguettes, generously provided by our partner, Bennison's Bakery! (While supplies last, limit one per household please)

Join Our 5th Anniv Scavenger Hunt For a DEE-LISH Grand Prize! Follow On Twitter
Pastoral Cheese and Wine Pairing Sign Up Now To Follow Us On Twitter & Get The Chance to Win A Cheese & Wine Pairing Each Month For 6 Months!

At Pastoral, we don't take life too seriously and if there is anything we all love, it's a good game. So, in honor of our 5 year anniversary in Lakeview, we decided that we had to up the ante on fun! So, lace up your running shoes and get ready to play our first-ever Lakeview Scavenger Hunt this weekend, with clues provided only on Twitter to help you find the bounty!!!

Sign up and follow us on Twitter before Friday morning, when the clues start to flow and the fur starts to fly! You can become a Pastoral follower on Twitter by clicking below, signing up (if you're not already on it) and finding us at PastoralArtisan (seems to be case sensitive). Follow the clues to find our grand prize and once you find it, bring it along to 2945 N Broadway, yell "Wine & Cheese Please!" and present us with the designated evidence per the last clue. Last clue is Sunday!

NOTE: Pastoral Employees, their families are significant others are ineligible to participate. Six months of pairings must be in consecutive months commencing before year end and ending no later than May 31, 2010.

Follow Us On Twitter For Insider Info: screen name PastoralArtisan

Chicago Air & Water Show This Weekend!
Chicago Air and Water Show

Get Your Party Tray & Picnic Orders In Now!

The weather is supposed to be perfect for one of Chicago's premier summer happenings--the nation's largest free air and water show right outside our front door on beautiful Lake Michigan. Whether you're on a rooftop, a boat, or a grassy knoll, Pastoral trays, picnics and other delicious fare can make it easy, delicious and memorable. Call in advance to reserve your trays or picnics, or stop in the day of to pick up a nosh to take along! We're open regular hours all weekend (11 am til 6pm in the Loop and 11am-7pm Sat & 11am-6pm Sun)

Click to See Pastoral's Catering Options

Don't forget that our Fall class schedule will be out by the end of next week for advanced registration--- classes start in September and run until just before Thanksgiving, when we break for the holidays. Also, check out Pastoral in the September issue of Town & Country Magazine, featuring two of our favorite Midwest cheeses--Oakvale Farmstead Gouda and Pleasant Ridge Reserve! We're also in this month's Saveur Magazine, featuring our Rogue Creamery Crater Lake Blue. PS- Our Culinary Road Trip is SOLD OUT with a waiting list forming now!

We hope to see you this weekend! TWEET!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

We're All A-Twitter!

A lot is going on with Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine in the upcoming weeks. First, we have our 5th anniversary of the Broadway location coming on Sunday, August 16. Five years! As a thank you to you our loyal customers and members of our community we would like to to invite you to come celebrate with us*. We will have a few trays out filled with tasty morsels from our shelves and cheese case, and will be tasting out some wines as well. The first 100 customers in the door will be given a mini baguette. There is also secret prize!

In conjunction with our new twitter account we will be giving away a wonderful, truly extraordinary prize. Clues on how to collect this bounty will only be given on our twitter account, so if you want to participate in the hunt you've got to follow us on twitter. You can click here to join. Trust me when I say you're going to want to be a part of this.

Ken and Greg are going to be doing a big announcement coming this week. I can't tell you what it is now, I don't want to ruin the surprise. Be on the lookout!

In media news, If you haven't picked it up yet, go out and get the September issue of Town & Country magazine. There's a great article featuring Pastoral Artisan . Our wholesale program was mentioned this week in an article this week. Our wholesale team is Lisa Futterman (your primary cheesy contact), Adam her assistant, delivery drivers Kevin and Clifford and of course the head cheese buyer for Pastoral Artisan, Cesar Olivares. Congratulations to our wholesale team!

*Our celebration will only be held at the location of 2945 N. Broadway. We will be pouring samples, and have trays for noshing only while supplies last. The clues for the scavenger hunt will only be given on twitter.


Friday, August 7, 2009

An Amped Up Pairing!

Hello, internet friends! If you're looking for our usual blogger, Agela, you can find her at the American Cheese Society convention in Austin, TX. Apparently she's off the grid, probably locked in her hotel room with a nasty cheese headache. I've been lucky enough to be appointed guest blogger for this week's pairing, and let me tell you, it's a real doozy.

Judging by the past posts, I think I'm supposed to tell you about the cheese first. It's called Barely Buzzed, and it's a cheddar style cheese covered in espresso beans and lavendar from Beehive Cheese Co. in Uintah, Utah. The coffee beans are roasted by the cheesemaker's brother and then mixed with lavendar buds and oil to create the dynamic rub. It's a real eye opener! (Get it? Caffeine?!) This cheese won 1st place in the Flavored Cheddar category the last two years at ACS, and we'll find out this week if it can pull off the threepeat. The suspense is killing me! Agela, we need updates from Austin, stat!

Wine Buyer Jan has selected Garretson G White, a Viognier/Rousanne blend, to join up with our star cheese. Now you're probably thinking, "Egads, man! Coffee cheese with Viognier?! Pastoral's gone batty!" Au contraire, my friends. Wine Buyer Jan (WBJ from now on) thinks this robust vino stands up to the cheese without pushing it around, and this power play highlights the fruity finish in the wine while gently mellowing out the Barely Buzzed. The nice acidity in this juice still ends up emphasizing the lavendar in the cheese, and leaves the palette in a fresh, summery state of mind. WBJ thinks that this full bodied white will only drink well for a couple more years, so come on in and try some this weekend, or jump on over to our webstore and order some from a sitting position! Time is running out.


Friday, July 31, 2009

Pairing and Event

Before we get into this week's pairing just a reminder that this coming Saturday from 6:30pm until the last drop is poured, we are doing our monthly free wine tasting at our Loop location. This month's theme is "Hot Summer Whites". Jan has selected some great wines to pair with any summer outing you have planned. Going to Ravinia for a show? Or bringing a picnic to Millenium Park? We've got you covered! Stop by and taste what's hot!

This week's wine is 2006 Domaine de Nagues Beaujolais Village (Gamay Noir) from Burgundy, France. Jan says that Gamay Noir gets a bad rap because of the Beaujolais that is released as a
right about Thanksgiving, and then ignored the rest of the year. Beajolais-Village is the same grape but grown in only several specific villages, with a far lower yield (by law) and several months spent aging in oak barrels. Earthy cranberry compote and coffee notes make this lighter bodied wine a complex, and delicious treat!

For the cheese this week we found so many that could go with this wine that we're featuring a few. First up is the Mt. Tam from Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station California (small write rind cheese in the front). An organic cow's milk cheese, this First place winner at the American Cheese Society in 2008 for soft ripened cheeses is a firm, yet buttery cheese with a mellow earthy flavor. A great triple creme cheese.

Next up (going clockwise) is the Fleur du Maquis from Corsica, France. You may know this cheese by it's other name, Brin d'Amour. A slightly sweet, rich and creamy cheese coated in herbs and juniper berries this sheep's milk cheese is mild and complex.

In the back we have the Barely Buzzed from the Beehive Cheese Company in Uintah, Utah. A cow's milk cheese, the rind is developed by handrubbing a mash of finely ground espresso beans, lavender and vegetable oil. The resulting cheese has an earthy nuttiness not unlike a Cheddar.

Last, but certainly not least is the Ardrahan from County Cork in Ireland. This washed rind cheese has a creamy, rich texture with earthy aromas that will transport you right to the Emerald Isle. A big thanks to Mary Burns for her hard work in bringing artisinal cheesemaking back to Ireland and a big thank you to the folks at Neal's Yard Dairy for supporting her delicious endeavors and for hand selecting the wheels we get here at Pastoral.

Can't decide which cheese is right for you? Neither could we. We think that they're all wonderful!


Friday, July 24, 2009

New Pairing! New Cheese!

This week we are featuring cheese from Cobb Hill Cheese in Hartland, VT called Ascutney Mountain. Made from Jersey Cow's milk this cheese has a buttery, rich, nutty, grassy flavor with a slight sweetness to it. Like many Vermont cheeses this one is aged at the Jasper Hill Cellars in the Northeast Kingdom of the state. Adam and I are especially happy to have another representation of our "homeland" brought to Pastoral. Come in and taste why!
For libations this week we are pairing a beer from Goose Island right here in Chicago. Sofie is a bright, light and tart ale. That bit of citrus you're tasting is because it is aged in wine barrels with orange peel. Delicious and tart enough to cut through the richness of the cheese without detracting from the full flavor.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Yesterday I was lucky enough, along with several of my co-workers and wholesale customers, to attend a professional cheese seminar led by Dave Lockwood and Raef Hodgeson from Neal's Yard Dairy.

Every cheese that passes through this British cheese institution is like gold--the cheeses are carefully selected and aged with an incredible amount of care. Neal's Yard works with traditional cheesemakers from the British Isles to ensure consistency in cheeses that already exist, but also to improve cheeses that are "under development."

The lecture by Lockwood was very high level and technical, and I won't bore you with the details (email me if you are interested, but I came away with an even deeper respect for what they do at the Dairy, and once we tasted the 8 cheeses the gentlemen chose for us, that respect became awe.

Did you know that Neal's yard imports only two American cheeses for sale in their London shops? Oregon's Rogue River Blue, and Wisconsin's Pleasant Ridge Reserve--two Pastoral favorites.

Did you know that Montgomery's cheddar tastes different depending on what day of the week it is made? They use different rennets on different days to prevent contamination, creating subtle but notable effects on flavor.

Join us today (Tues July 21, 2009 530-730 pm) at either location to taste a gorgeous Mongomery's Cheddar and a funky new (to us) washed rind cheese called Ogleshield.

Lisa Futterman

Friday, July 17, 2009

My First Cheese Making Experience!

So, a couple weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of visiting two farms in Lincoln, Nebraska. The experience that I had was like no other. I had the pleasure of helping Charuth Loth, of ShadowBrook Farm and Dutch Girl Creamery, and Krista Dittman, of Branched Oak Farm, sell cheese at the wonderful farmers markets in Lincoln. I also had the privilege of spending two days helping, or at least I hope I was, making Lancaster Duet as well as other wonderful cheeses that they produce.

Myself (Greg Ellis), Charuth Loth and Krista Dittman standing outside of the cheese room after a long morning of making cheese.

Charuth giving me a first hand look at their cheese cave. I was in cheese heaven!

Look at me! My first time making cheese. I really got the full "hands on" experience!

Ok, now I don't think there is anything better than this. I had the opportunity to see the whole cheese making process. Everything starts right here.

These women work very hard to make wonderful cheese that we at Pastoral love. Their belief in local, organic products really shines through in the cheeses that they make. I encourage anyone to check out what they are doing as well as try as many of their cheese that you can get your hands on. Most don't make it out of the Nebraska, but hopefully they soon will. Thank you Charuth and Krista for a great experience!

Greg Ellis

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Pairing

This week we are featuring the Roxanne from Prairie Fruits Farm in Champaign, IL and the N.V. Gran Sarao Cava Rosao from Spain.

Roxanne is a raw sheep milk cheese from our friend Leslie. Named for one of her does on the farm and not for the song by the Police, Roxanne is a nutty, grassy cheese with a natural rind and a round mouthfeel.

Perfect with the Cava Rosado. This is an exquisite pink wine. Bone dry instead of cloying. Bubbles made by the champagne method of second fermentation in the bottle instead of pumped in like other wines. Crisp, bubbly and delicious. Perfect for the rich flavors of the Roxanne.