BCAE Blog

BCAE Instructor Spotlight: Marianne Staniunas

Posted by Marie Scarfo on Mon, Mar 20, 2017

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Our Instructor Spotlight Series continues! The latest instructor, featured in our May/June catalog, is Marianne Staniunas, BCAE Tasting instructor and expert on all things cheese, wine, and honey! Catch the full interview right here, and stay tuned for more awesome details about our even more awesome instructors.

BCAE: First off, welcome to the BCAE! Tell us a little about yourself.
MARIANNE: I am an attorney who decided to seek out a different quality of life, almost four years ago, when I left private practice for the cheese and wine world - which had always fascinated me - beginning work with Formaggio Kitchen South End.  I still use my legal training to do pro bono legal work and volunteer work on the side and feel that I have achieved more of the balance in life I was looking for.

BCAE: What do you love most about teaching?
MARIANNE: My favorite thing about teaching, is being able to share information, flavors, experiences about and with things that I love with others.

InstructorSpotlight_MarianneStaniunas-1.jpgBCAE: So, you’re a cheesemonger, wine buyer, honey expert & beekeeper. How did you get into these trades?
MARIANNE: As I mentioned, I started out as an attorney with an interest in wine and cheese and food generally.  I had become an attorney because I wanted to help people, but after working in several different roles over more than eight years, I realized that I wasn't using my degree to help people in the ways that I had hoped.  I became disillusioned with the whole attorney life and lifestyle, and decided to make an abrupt shift on my career path. 

Working at Formaggio opened up so many opportunities for me to learn about all kinds of artisanal foods - from wine, to cheese, to honey - and for me to become more knowledgable in all of these areas.  I am the Honey Buyer for the South End Shop (as well as a buyer of several other products), a cheesemonger, and assistant to the Wine Buyer.  Working at Formaggio also has allowed me to pursue other interests, from using my legal degree to do the kind of pro bono legal work that is meaningful to me, to do additional volunteer work, and to pick up some other hobbies. 

I got into beekeeping as a result of my endeavors to learn more about the production side of honey - both in my role as Honey Buyer, and as part of some of the volunteer work I do for a non-profit in Uganda that was starting an apiary.  I was fortunate to get connected with The Best Bees Company here in the South End; I had a beehive last season, and the folks at Best Bees manage several additional hives for both the South End and Cambridge Formaggio shops.  My bees did not make it through the winter, but I am excited to try again this season.

BCAE: What’s your favorite thing about beekeeping? What do you find to be the most challenging?
MARIANNE: I still consider myself a novice beekeeper - I think it takes years and years of practice to move on from that status! - but my favorite thing about beekeeping is the bees.  Bees are incredible and the functioning of the beehive as a super-organism still boggles my mind.  There is so much to learn about how bees work, the challenges they face, and there are so many difficult decisions to make as a beekeeper, regarding when and how to intervene, and when to just observe.  The biggest challenge for me, is trying to figure out that intervention piece.

BCAE: Unfair question, but we have to know: what’s your favorite cheese?
MARIANNE: My favorite cheese??  Cheese is made by living organisms, and so every wheel is a little different - even when you use the exact same recipe, and provide the same aging conditions.  For me, that means that various cheeses move in and out of my "top five," depending on the flavors, textures, etc. of a given wheel.  That being said, one cheese that I always come back to as a standby is Colston-Bassett Stilton - a rich, earthy, musty, mouth-wateringly delicious cow's milk blue from Nottingham in England.  

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Take a class with Marianne!

Inside Honey: The Bee's Cheese

Spring Cheese & Wine

Spanish Cheeses & Sherry

Honey Tasting & The Basics of Beekeeping

Artisan Olive Oil & Vinegars: A Tasting Tour

BROWSE ALL OF OUR TASTING CLASSES HERE!

 

Topics: BCAE classes, wine, spring, things to do in Boston, wine education, Wine classes Boston, Spring activities in Boston, boston things to do, wine class Boston, wine tasting, Boston classes, beekeeping, urban beekeeping, Spring Classes at the BCAE, Wine & Spirits, BCAE Tasting classes, Boston Tastings, Boston Tasting classes, cheese, honey, BCAE Tastings, things to do in Spring in Boston

Summer in Boston: 5 Things to Add to Your To-Do List

Posted by Kim Wieczner on Wed, Jun 08, 2016

Well, folks, summer has arrived in Boston, and we couldn't be happier about it! It quickly spoils us with sunshine and makes us forget that it was ever cold and snowy here...

Knowing that summer could be taken away from us at any time, we squish as much as possible into these fleeting warm, glorious months! We surveyed the BCAE staff about their favorite summer activities here in the city (or close by) to help you start (or add to) your ever-growing summer to-do list.

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1. Catch a Game at Fenway Park

Whether you're a die-hard Red Sox fan, or an unwavering addict of Fenway Franks, there's something for everyone. And with this being Big Papi's final season, make sure to buy your tickets to catch the legend's final glory days at Fenway.

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2. Get Artsy...Outside!

Eager to enjoy the long days and warm nights, many of Boston's arts organizations head out of doors for the summer so you can get your cultural fix al fresco. Some that top the list?

Can't stand the heat? STAFFER TIP: Museums offer a great air-conditioned alternative...

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3. Hit the Water

Rent a kayak, learn to sail, or just cruise - the Charles River and the Boston Harbor have loads of opportunities to stay cool and explore the life aquatic without leaving the city limits. We've partnered with some local businesses to bring you some water-filled offerings of our own:

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4. Patio Season...

...might just be the happiest season! When you stroll the streets of Boston and your favorite restaurants and bars transform into Euro-chic patios and beer gardens of all sizes and shapes. Those beers just taste better outside, don't they? Some staff favorites include:

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5. Lobster, lobster & more lobster!

Nothing says summer like a hot dog bun overflowing with the freshest Boston waters have to offer. Well, really, throw that fresh New England lobster on just about anything and we're there. Some staff picks include:

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 And as always, we have a long list of classes to satisfy any and all of your summer to-do cravings! Check 'em out here!

Topics: BCAE, Boston summer classes, Boston restaurants, BCAE Summer class, summer in Boston, boston things to do, Fenway Park, lobster rolls, red sox

Fall-spiration: Get Excited for Fall with a Little Help from the BCAE

Posted by Kim Wieczner on Thu, Oct 01, 2015

Saying goodbye to summer is just as sad every year. Somehow we just can't seem to get used to it -- shorter days, colder nights -- but it is often easy to forget that while we say goodbye to one glorious season, we say hello to what may be the most glorious of seasons here in New England, fall!


We swap our swimsuits and flip flops for sweaters and boots, switch from iced drinks to frothy hot ones, and we go apple picking surrounded by stunning postcard-perfect scenery. Yes, it means 1 step closer to winter, and after last year's winter, we're not sure we can survive another one, BUT it's fall's job to help ease us into the chillier weather. It's fall's job to get us excited for scarves again, and soup, and hot toddies...and all the other glorious things that keep us living in a 4-season climate, and prevent us from buying that 1-way ticket to Florida and never looking back. Having trouble getting excited for fall this year? Here are some bits of fall-spiration from us here at the BCAE.

TOM: Countdown to Christmas, proving that winter isn't just something to dread, grin & bear

I love the fall because as the weather gets cooler, I actually seem to find new energy for cooking and house projects. I love to kick-off my holiday prep by making a fruitcake in early October.  In particular, I love its weekly feeding of brandy.  For me, that’s the real countdown to Christmas.

BROOKE: Family & food-- don't worry bathing suit season isn't for a long time...

Every fall I go to the Topsfield fair with my family and eat a bloomin onion, a corn dog, and fried dough. It’s a tradition! We don’t even go on the rides…

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JAMIE: So many things to do and see and taste! Embracing fall with all 5 senses.

Apple picking – we go annually, have a picnic, then make boatloads of apple sauce, apple cake, and apple pies.
Football – hosting and going to Pat’s parties
Warmer clothes – the bite in the air and needing to layer and BOOTS!!
My front steps – pumpkins, hearty mums, trick or treat signs
Halloween – decorating, costumes and taking Meredith out around the neighborhood and to other Halloween events around…like Zoo Howl!
Leaves – we take leaf walks and pick out all the colors we can see (yes, I have a toddler), and rake a billion bags of leaves even though there isn’t one tree in our yard and then jump in them.
My dad’s cooking – he goes crazy in the fall and winter with hearty soups, breads, desserts, casseroles, you name it. 

KIM: Clichés aside, it really is all about the pumpkin.

When asked what my favorite food is, my answer is pumpkin anything, regardless of the season, but for some reason this "seasonal" flavor is "limited time only." Fall is the one time of year when pumpkin flavored everything is everywhere, and it is therefore acceptable to incorporate pumpkin into all things cooking (finally!). For me, it's not about the faux pumpkin syrups and coffee drinks, etc., but all about the real stuff. Sweet? Of course. Pies, cakes, breads, muffins, cookies, brownies, bread puddings. And savory for sure. Pasta, chilis, soups, sauces, and sides. The kitchen has cooled down from summer so bring on the baking & cooking (and yeah, eating)!


ANDREW: Football, smoked meat, and acting like a kid again.

Most Sundays in the fall I meet up with a group of friends, make smoked meat, and drink a couple of beers while watching football. This may seem like a less than cultured way for grown men to spend time, but there’s something beautiful about trying to get the temperature just right on the meat smoker (about 225 degrees) while that crisp fall air—air that seems to almost have a personality-- reddens your cheeks and you sniffle from the cherry wood smoke that wafts with the wind and inevitably blows directly in your face.  You hear a faint roar from inside and rush to open the sliding glass door to trade high fives with friends when the Patriots score another touchdown. There’s something beautiful about not forgetting how to play.

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Still struggling to get inspired? Browse our fall classes to find one that suits you and join us in the excitement!

Topics: BCAE, fall activities, Boston, boston things to do, fall in Boston, fall food, fall classes, fall cooking

It's Barbecue Season!

Posted by Kim Wieczner on Wed, Jul 02, 2014

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Barbecue season is finally here, and with 4th of July around the corner, it's gonna be a busy one. So we're breaking out the grill and all of the things that go with it, and we've got a great line-up of classes to take your grilling and chilling skills up a notch or two.

Is your BBQ all about the meat? Check out these classes:

Toasty Buns: Burgers to Blow Your Mind - Thursday, July 24th
Burger pros Richard (Boston Burger Blog), and Katie (Small Boston Kitchen), will teach you the tricks to making the perfect burger, and all of the fixings, every time.

Smokin Hot: Classic Summer BBQ - Saturday, August 16th
Dustin Rennells will cover all you need to know to impress your meat-loving guests...from grill temperature to marinades and rubs and so much more!

Is your BBQ just as much about the booze as it is about the food? These ones are for you:

Burgers & Beer - Wednesday, July 16th
Burger experts Richard & Katie welcome Urban Grape's beer expert, Ben Bouton for a class on the ultimate food & drink pair.

The Best Wines for a Summer BBQ - Wednesday, July 23rd
Beer is usually the star of the backyard barbecue, but break out the glassware and bring some wine to the next one with help from this class.

Bourbon and Bar-B-Que - Tuesday, August 19th
Whiskey and bourbon master Randall Bird goes through the best bourbons to go with your barbecue, and he's bringing in a meat-full dinner to complete the meal.

Taking a turn from the classic and moving your BBQ to the beach?

Creative Clambakes - Saturday, July 19th
Dustin Rennells is mixing up the New England tradition with inventive sides and more that you don't wanna miss!

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Whatever your cookout inclinations are this summer, we've got classes galore. Browse them all here. Can anybody else smell the charcoal? #smellslikesummer

Topics: Boston summer classes, summer cooking classes Boston, summer in Boston, barbecue classes Boston, boston things to do, BBQ Boston, wine class Boston, spirits class Boston