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Madame Fromage and the Cheese Board at Kraftwork

The cheese board at Kraftworks (photo by T. Darlington)

Philly Homegrown is committed to getting local food into your belly, whether you cook it yourself or you order it up at an area restaurant. In the hopes of highlighting some of the menus that are rife with homegrown ingredients, we’ve partnered with a series of Philly bloggers and have sent them out into the field, to report back on some of those locally sourced dishes.

This week, our roving blogger is Tenaya Darlington (aka Madame Fromage). She is Philadelphia’s cheese-writer-in-residence and is always on the hunt for a new brie, blue or Boursin.

Today, she’s reporting in on an afternoon spent with Chef Brian Lofink and Adam Ritter of Kraftwork, tasting her way through the five cheeses on their wrench-handled board. Located in Fishtown, Kraftwork opened last spring and immediately became a neighborhood favorite.

The cheese board at Kraftwork glorifies all things hand-hewn. The selections showcase artisan cheesemakers from around the U.S., and Chef Brian Lofink (formerly of Matyson, Sidecar) has enough heart to include at least two local stinkers each week.

It’s all part of what owner Adam Ritter had in mind when he opened Kraftwork earlier this year – a bar with communal tables and industrial touches that pay tribute to the Fishtown neighborhood’s industrial roots. Don’t be surprised to see an enormous saw hanging over the bar, and table legs made from augurs.

“Everything here lends itself to community,” says Ritter (pictured above). “You can come in and share a cheese board, try a sampling of beers, order a plate of house-made charcuterie. Everything is designed to be shared.”

The cheese board is definitely worth a special trip up to the hinterlands of Fishtown. The selections are unusual – you won’t find these cheeses at the grocery – and Chef Lofink’s pairings are spot on, especially where nuts and cheese collide.

Here are the dairy blue prints from a recent Kraftwork expedition:

Cherry Grove Buttercup Brie (NJ) + paprika-spiced almonds
Hendricks Farm Monel (PA)+brandied cherries
Keswick Creamery Happy Jack (PA)+olive tapenade
Berkshire Blue (MA) + honeycrisp apples, clover honey, black pepper
Parmesan Flan

I can’t think of many cheese boards in Philadelphia that boast 5 selections, including an ethereal flan made from Parmesan rinds simmered in cream (a trick Lofink learned while working at Brasserie Perrier). Though the cheese selections change, the flan is always the centerpiece, and oh, it is a thing of beauty.

Click here to finish reading all Tenaya’s reasons why she’s positively rapturous about this cheese board.