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Cheese & Wine; Paleo Mama

The weather snapped cold early this year, sharpening appetites and perhaps a few ax blades in preparation for another Wisconsin winter. Pumpkins, apples, squash and sweet potatoes are back in play and we’re thinking about the great food that beckons from the winter holiday table.

I look forward as much as anyone to the heaps of bakery that come as a natural partner to this time of year, but also find myself growing numb to the sweets well before the holidays are out. As a delicious alternative to another slice of cake or pie, we offer these cheese and wine pairings for your dessert course or holiday side table at dinner:

Shepherd’s Way Hidden Falls
This cheese from Steven Read and Jodi Ohlsen Read of Carver County, MN, has been compared to the iconic Piemonte cheese Robiola. Traditionally served alone or with olive oil, salt and pepper, a great wine pairing from our cellars is Ritual Pinot Noir or Layer Cake Chardonnay.

Jasper Hills Harbison
Named for an esteemed matriarch of Greensboro, VT, this spruce-cloaked cheese is exceptionally soft. Crack open the top of the cambium casing and dip in to enjoy with fruit mustards, bread with a backbone and Castle Rock Paso Robles Cabernet or Natura Sauvignon Blanc.

Alemar Bent River Camembert-style
The first thing our Cheese Coordinator Patrick Schroeder said about enjoying this cheese (and also prominent on the producer’s website) was to be sure to temper it adequately—let it come to room temperature by sitting out at least an hour in winter. Should be eaten within a week of opening with grapes, cranberries, walnuts and a glass of Copertino Riserva or King Estate Pinot Gris.

Paleo Mama Q&A
Inspired by the twin goals of taking care of herself and satisfying a sweet tooth, Belle Pleva founded Paleo Mama Bakery in Madison in September 2014. Belle bakes rich, delicious grain- and gluten-free products to order throughout the week. Willy Street Co-op is bringing the unique products of this one-woman show to the shelves of our Juice Bars in November. I caught up with her in early October to get the background on her business:
JP: How did you discover that paleo is what works for you?
BP: I was diagnosed with an auto-immune problem seven years ago—research showed that diet would be a better way to improve my health than the medications that were being offered, so I made the shift away from grains, refined sugars and dairy, and saw an immediate improvement in my health.
JP: Is it difficult to bake great-tasting products without all of the traditional ingredients?
BP: Not at all—there are a lot of good substitutes for traditional bakery ingredients, like honey for sugar, almond flour and coconut flour—the taste is pretty comparable and results in a great texture. Most people can’t tell the difference between paleo flour and traditional flour. In fact, I try to get people who aren’t already interested in paleo eating to try my products first, and the feedback is always good.
JP: Tell us about your kitchen and a day in the life.
BP: I share a commercial kitchen space with the New Health Renewal Center—they aren’t using the space for many of the Center’s activities, so it’s a good partnership. I come in around 9:00 in the morning, after I get the kids to school, and put in a day between 8 to 12 hours. Tuesday and Friday are pickup days, so these are the days I bake all of the fresh products.
JP: What’s next up for Paleo Mama Bakery?
BP: Expanding distribution in Madison and possibly some other local cities. Adding staff might be a possibility in the future (currently doing everything solo).
JP: What’s your favorite product?
BP: Chocolate chip cookies, definitely.
JP: Anything else we should know about your business or your bakery?
BP: If you’ve never tried paleo foods—give it a shot!
Much more can be learned about Paleo Mama at Look for these on our shelves in early November.

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