posted on by Jackie B.

Dave’s Greatest Hits

If you’ve been into Spice Kitchen + Bar a time or two,  you might have noticed something special about our signature cocktail menu. Sure, all the drinks are seasonally inspired. Yep, they’re all made from scratch with farmers’ market ingredients.

...and also edible flowers.

…and also edible flowers.

But what usually kicks off the conversation when people sit down with the drink menu? They love talking about the names.

With titles like, “A Rye Kind of Guy,” and “You’re Dill the One,” our cocktail menu can be quite a conversation piece.

Dave Hridel, or Captain Quick Wit as we like to call him, has unmatched naming prowess when it comes to his crafty farm-to-bar creations.

Dave's latest summer sippers.

Dave’s latest summer sippers.

Stop on in and break the ice around “Gin It to Win It” or some other such thing. We promise you’ll start with a smile and leave with a laugh.

Here are our top ten favorite names so far.*

10. A Whole Lotta Rosie: Tequila, Citrus Trio, Aperol + Rosemary

9. Call Me Maple: OYO Honey Vanilla Vodka, Maple Syrup, Luxardo, Lemon + Muddled Griotte Cherries

8. Pressed to Impress: House-spiced Rum, Ohio Apple Cider, Ginger/Lemongrass Syrup + Lime

Pressed to Impress

Pressed to Impress

7. Try Walking a Chamomile in Your Shoes: Gin, Lemon, Chamomile Syrup + Ginger Beer.

6. The Smoked Prophet: Smoked Pineapple + Jalapeño Infused Tequila, IPA Syrup, Lemon + Carpano Bianco

Smokey.

Smokey.

5. Abra-Zacapa: Ron Zacapa Aged Rum, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth, Creme de Yvette, Orange Bitters + Griotte Cherries

4. Melon-choly: House-spiced Rum, Cantaloupe Juice, Lime + Lemon Grass Ginger Honey Syrup

3. Cool Hand Cuke: Gin, Cucumber Juice, Lemon + Mint Syrup

2. All is Pear in Love + War: House-spiced Rum, Pear Puree, Ginger Liquor, Lemon + Cranberry Bitters

All is Pear in Love & War

All is Pear in Love & War

1. The Local Hero: Tom’s Foolery Applejack, Lemon, Berry Jam + Local Beer (DIY it with the help of Dave’s video on Cleveland.com)

*Editors note:  These concoctions shift with the seasons and are not available year round. If you see something you like, be sure to ask Dave for a seasonal version you’ll love.

Posted in: Spice Kitchen+Bar
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posted on by Noelle P.

Q+A with Mackenzie Creamery Owner, Jean Mackenzie

Mackenzie Creamery has been churning out award winning goat cheese for seven years. It all began with a cheesemaking course taken by Jean while on vacation. It was then that she found her calling and got down to business (literally!) on launching her own. In less than six months, Mackenzie Creamery was born in the lower level of her barn in Hiram, Ohio. Since then, Jean has not only grown a successful business and national reputation; she’s also taken her love for the industry to new heights by founding the Ohio Cheese Guild.

The farm itself has provided a beautiful backdrop for many Plated Landscape dinners over the years, with equally beautiful dishes inspired by the creamery’s distinctive flavor profiles. Below we interview Jean on what makes her cheeses so special, some fun recipes to try and her mission as a local producer.

A picture-perfect setting.

A picture-perfect setting.

Q. Mackenzie Creamery is one of the most popular farms of the Plated Landscape season. What makes this dinner so special and what might a first timer expect?

A. I think that the farm setting is one of the main qualities that makes the Plated Landscape dinner so special. Our 30-acre farm is set on a gently sloping hill facing south and has a real sense of southern France with rolling pastures and mature woods. We have created trails throughout the woods and take our Plated Landscape guests on a hay wagon ride though the woods before dinner. It’s great fun for all.

Please yield for tractor crossings.

Please yield for tractor crossings.

Q. You have such unique flavors. What’s your all time favorite?

A. I tell people that my favorite flavor is the one I’m talking about! But, I would have to say that our most popular flavor is the Cognac Fig, which has won five national awards! We use Courvoisier cognac and Dalmatia figs – nothing but the best ingredients! – to make our sauce that is poured over the top of the cheese. It’s delicious!

Q. What are your favorite ways to incorporate your goat cheeses into your own dishes at home?

A. I love adding our plain or honey chevre to my roasted beet salad that is then tossed with a balsamic glaze and olive oil. I also enjoy making sauces and salad dressings with the cheese. I take ¼ log of our Wasabi Sesame Chèvre, thin it with 2% milk and use it as a salad dressing.

DO try this at home!

DO try this at home!

More cheese please.

More cheese please.

Q. You founded the Ohio Cheese Guild. Tell us about the genesis of that idea and what your vision is for the future.  

A. When I was licensed in 2007 there were only a handful of creameries in Ohio and virtually no resources for cheesemakers. Today there are over twenty creameries in Ohio making cheese from cow, goat and sheep milk!  At the American Cheese Society’s (ACS) annual conventions, I’ve met leaders from cheese guilds from across the country. These guilds serve as a critical link for cheesemakers to one another and provide a way to promote local cheeses and an avenue to disperse important and ever-changing information from the FDA. Each year, small-scale creameries are held to higher and higher standards and it’s critical that each cheesemaker is aware of changes in the laws.

The Ohio Cheese Guild membership is made up of people from across Ohio – makers, buyers, chefs, cheese enthusiasts – who love Ohio cheeses. We’re working on an Ohio Cheese Trail and an annual cheese event.

Q. How did you come to meet the Bebenroths?

A. I first met Ben when I brought him a sample of Mackenzie Creamery chevre for him to try and hopefully incorporate into his menu at Spice of Life Catering. I then met Jackie and the children at the Shaker farmers’ market and fell in love with the entire family! Jackie and I then served together on the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy Board of Directors. When the Ohio Cheese Guild was founded, Jackie was at the top of our list for the board and she’s now heading up the Marketing and Communications Committee.

Dinner prep

Dinner prep

Q. What is your mission as a local producer and how does it align with Spice Companies sourcing philosophy?

A. Our mission and business philosophy is very closely aligned with Spice Companies. Buying local ingredients, supporting and promoting local businesses and incorporating sustainable practices are key.

Insert yourself here.

Insert yourself here.

Posted in: Spice of Life Catering Co.
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posted on by Noelle P.

Q+A WITH CO-OWNER OF YELLOW HOUSE CHEESE, Kristyn Henslee

Next up on the Plated Landscape schedule is Yellow House Cheese, a farm specializing in artisan-style aged cheeses that are handmade in their creamery in Seville, Ohio. We chatted with main “milk maid” Kristyn Henslee about what makes this family-operated farm so special.

The crew from left Kristyn and her husband/cheesemeister Kevin, their daughters and one very fine sheep.

The crew from left: Kristyn and her husband/cheese maker Kevin, their two daughters, and one very fine sheep.

Q. Yellow House Cheese is certainly making a name for itself. How do you set yourselves apart from other cheese producers?

A. We work hard and do everything ourselves. We milk our own animals. Everything is done by hand. We are genuine. And I think that it really comes out in our product. My girls and I laugh that “It’s made with love in Seville.” But it’s true.

How it all stacks up.

How it all stacks up.

Q. What are some of your specialty cheeses? Which ones will be making an appearance on the the Spice menu at this month’s Plated Landscape dinner?

A. When we started out, we were committed to making only blues because no one else is doing it in Ohio. So our farmstead sheep’s milk blue is our Yellow House Blue. It won an American Cheese Society Award in 2013, so that was pretty fun. We also make Wooster Pike Blue, a cow’s milk creamy blue cheese. Then I got bored and wanted to try something that wasn’t blue. So I crafted Kendall, a bloomy rind cow sheep milk blend that’s like a Camembert. And for those who don’t like a blue, I made Sunshine Gold that’s Wooster Pike minus the blue. It has a feta-like texture but also melts down really nicely in cheese sauces.

Q. Tell us about the art of making blue cheese.

A. It’s mostly magic. We’re still learning ourselves. The blue mold is directly inoculated into the milk at the start of the process. After it goes to the cave, we poke the cheeses with skewers to get oxygen into the cheese for the mold to bloom. Voodoo magic mostly. But temperature and humidity have a lot to do with it too. And lots of luck.

Check out the hue on that blue.

Check out the hue on that blue.

Q. What are some great ways we can integrate your cheese into our own dishes at home?

A. I’m not a cook. So I like to say that our cheeses are best enjoyed with some company and your favorite wine. But you can eat our cheeses on their own, burgers, salads… however you like!

Q. Where can we buy Yellow House Cheese?

A. We are now in select Heinen’s stores. That just started this month. And we are also at the North Union Shaker Square market, Chagrin Falls Market, Medina Farmer’s Market and the Countryside Conservancy Market in Akron. You can also find us in some pretty cool restaurants on the cheese plate.

(Editor’s Note: Yellow House Cheese is currently featured on the all-Ohio cheese plate at Spice Kitchen + Bar.)

Q. What is your mission as a local producer and how does it align with the Spice Companies sourcing philosophy?

A. Our mission was pretty well planned and to summarize, it’s to produce high quality, handmade, small batch cheeses focusing on high animal care standards while upholding the tradition on the family farm in local agriculture. Really, we just want to do the best we can with what we have and share it with others. We produce products with a value that is appreciated by the Spice philosophy. I really appreciate that Ben is a chef who does what he says he does. That doesn’t always happen in the local food movement.

Editor’s Note: The Yellow House Cheese Plated Landscape dinner will be hosted at the Henslee’s farm on Thursday, June 14th, 2014. Can’t make the event? Look for pictures to come!

Hope to see you Saaaaaturday!

Hope to see you Thursday!

Posted in: Spice Kitchen+Bar
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