We sat down with Formaggio's owner Valerie to get her thoughts on the perfect picnic. We were ready for to grab out picnic blanket and pack up by then end of our conversation.
SEL: Give us the goods, Valerie! Where do we begin when we walk into your lovely shop looking to pack up a nice spread for a summer day or night?
VALERIE: Whether heading out to the beach, on a boat or picnicking in the park or backyard, here are some of my go-to favorites that I try to have around this time of year. Fresh goat's milk cheese like a Mothais Sur Feuille, Comte Le Fort and a sheep's milk cheese from the Pyrenees are always on hand. Ever since I opened the store in 1999, I have sold rosés. Some favorites right now are Mas de Cynanque or the Dom. Pique-Basse and a great fun white I have been drinking, when you hit rose fatigue, is the Casa Belfi from the Veneto. These light Provencal style rosés paired with a slice of Pain Polaine, salted butter, and either radishes or some of our tinned fish is perfect picnic fare.
SEL: Why did you open in the South End?
VALERIE: I opened the shop December 1999. I fell in love with the neighborhood feel of Shawmut Ave and the South End - it has not disappointed. I love the old-fashioned feel of the businesses and the neighbors in the way we all sort of look out for each other.
SEL: Why do you suggest goat’s or sheep’s milk cheeses? Are these cheeses better/lighter summer options than a cow milk cheese? Do they pair better with rosé than a cow’s milk?
VALERIE: Goats have a lot of milk in the summer so a fresh young goat cheese is great this time of year. And with a light crisp rosé for me it screams summer. Like I said I love a glass with some butter and radishes and butter and sardines.
SEL: What is your favorite South End spot for a glass of wine and cheese…outside of your wonderful shop?
VALERIE: I love to head over to Coppa (luckily it is right across the street) to enjoy a glass of wine and one of their pizzas. I appreciate that they are open all day so if I get off at 3:30p or 6p they are open for me to go enjoy.
SEL: What is the flavor profile of the Mas de Cynanque or Dom. Pique-Basse rosés?
VALERIE: The Mas de Cynanque is from the Languedoc area Saint-Chinian - old vines nice salinity, organic and made with wild yeasts - very quaffable and easy. The Domaine Pique-Basse is from the Cote du Rhone area also organic and made with wild yeasts fresh, clean bright red fruit...and again easy to drink!