Friday, March 26, 2010

Fabulously Fierce Friends, Ebonee

Ebonee writes: Ebonee is a flutist residing in Miami who in her spare time enjoys travel and capoeira.

CQ writes: I met Ebonee in graduate school.  She speaks French, has fantastic taste in foot apparel, and is a delightful travel partner.  Her musicianship is amazing, and she inspires me to be courageous in trying new things and seeing new places.  She didn't feel comfortable answering the standard 10, so I adapted them to music because she is so fabulous that deserves at least a spot on CQ, and probably her own internet fan club!

1. Who are your role models - food related or otherwise?

My Mother and Grandmother, Nelson Mandela, and Igor Stravinsky

2. What is your drink of choice?

Slightly chilled water with a slice of lime, Cuban coffee is a close second

3. What is your favorite book?

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

4. What was your most memorable musical experience and why?

An All Shostakovich program in Carnegie Hall with Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony. It was my first orchestral performance at Carnegie Hall. There were some amazing musical moments and scary ones as well but I got to have this great experience with some of the best musicians in the world and the audience was fantastic as well.

5. What is your musical gadget or tool?

My Korg Tuner/Metronome. I even have 2 so one can always stay on my stand at home.

6. If you had to play a recital right now, what would you play?

I would play the Jet Whistle by Villa Lobos, Carter's Scrivo in Vento, East Wind by Shulamit Ran, Trois Piece by Pierre Ferroud, An Idyll for the Misbegotten by George Crumb and probably some Bach to give everyone's ears a break ha!

7. What kind of music do you listen to for fun?

It's usually not classical. Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald, Edith Piaf and B. B. King never get old to me. But I also really enjoy listening to my uncle Arch Hooks' music too!

8. What is your philosophy on practicing and performing?

A colleague of mine used to tell me practice as though you are the worst and perform as though you are the best! I love it.

9. Are there any composer's works that you can't stand?

Anton Bruckner, sorry!

10. If you could use any super power to help you be a better musician, what would it be and why?

Superhuman breathing for sure. That's self-explanatory!

OK, so I'm gonna try and answer your food ones...

4. What was your most memorable meal and why?

Any meal I had during a six week chamber music/photo tour of Umbria during the summer of 2006. They were never less than 4 courses. The meals almost always came from "hole in the wall" places in small towns. They were always delicious and beautiful to look at. Everything was fresh and amazing. I'm an Italian food snob now hahaha!

5. What is your favorite kitchen gadget or tool?

My cuisinart mini food processor

9. Are there any foods you can not stand to eat?

If I had to choose between eating a beet or a root canal I would choose the root canal.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


A new cheese arrived today at work.  No matter how busy things get or how hectic the preliminary setup for service becomes, I always get excited when it's time for a cheese "briefing".  The cheese in question today is one that has been in production for centuries, but is new to me.  It's called Castelmagno and it is delicious.
Castelmagno is from Piedmont in the Northern part of Italy.  The region is known for many culinary delights, especially its fantastic wines Barolo and Barbaresco.  The earliest recorded mention of this cheese was in 1277 when it was used for trade.  It is also reported that it frequently appeared at Charlemagne's dinner table.  Likely, the cheese existed much before the thirteenth century to have been considered a commodity at the time, and its popularity and reputation had to have been widespread for it became a mainstay of a world leader's diet.
Castelmagno comes in a large drum and looks a bit like a giant blue cheese with a natural rind on the outside.  In fact, Castelmagno can develop blue mold under the right circumstances, though it is rare.  If it does, it is considered a delicacy, but Charlemagne reputedly cut the blue parts off when he ate it - I guess there is no accounting for taste!  Without the blue mold, it remains a lovely subtle and tangy cheese with an appealing crumbly texture and layers of cascading flavors.  It reminds me a lot of the wines from the region - intensely mineral and with a rough-hewn and somewhat rustic beauty that needs a seasoned palate to fully appreciate its virtues.  I can't say that this is a cheese that everyone will love the first time they try it, but it is one that deserves consideration for its truly unique personality.
I couldn't help but think how delicious Castelmagno would be with a bit of quince paste or honey, the traditional accompaniment.  I have also read that it is popular in Piedmont for cooking and is sometimes melted into risotto or served simply grated on top of fresh egg noodles.   The crumbly texture leads me to believe that it would melt nicely, just as an aged cheddar would.  I'm looking forward to seeing if it turns up on our menu anywhere, or maybe I'll pick some up myself and see if I can use it in my own kitchen.
Castelmagno has DOP status, which means that the Italian government, to some degree, controls its production.  It is currently made with pasteurized cow's milk, but can also have smaller amounts of goat's and sheep's milk added.  The Italians classify it as a blue cheese even if it doesn't have blue veins.  It is usually aged from two to five months, and some affineurs age it for longer.
If you can find Castelmagno, it's a cheese worth checking out.  Keep an eye out for it at your local cheese shop and you're in for a unique Italian experience that is fit for an emperor.