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Jams & Accompaniments


    spring cheese blogSpring is a wonderful time to explore seasonal varieties of artisan cheeses which aren't typically available year round, or hit the peak of perfection when paired with the flavors of the season. Nothing beats a classic grilled cheese or dunking a fresh baguette into a velvety bloomy rind, but here are a few of the ways we're branching out our cheese repertoire this Spring.









    pff chevre and pear tree
    Melting a few slices of Gruyere into an omelet is sure to enhance the most important meal of the day, but citrusy, fluffy cheese like sheep milk Brebis or fresh chèvre are wonderful breakfast staples. Topped with fresh fruit, honey, preserves, or olive oil these cheeses are lower in fat while imparting the important protein, vitamins, calcium and minerals you need to start your day.



    etude 500x500

    One of the best parts of Spring dining is the bounty of fresh, green vegetables. Sweet peas, asparagus, artichokes and ramps are all amazing when paired with the naturally grassy and lactic cheeses coming into season. A bright salad of shaved asparagus or celery drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper pairs perfectly with a grating of Etude from Andante Dairy. Try it over chilled Spring pea and ricotta ravioli for a bright yet filling pasta salad for warmer months.


    Covered in Herbs

    pecorino camomilla 500x500

    A large part of why artisan cheese is so delicious is that the farmers (who are oftentimes, also the cheesemakers) who care for the animals providing the milk truly care about their herd and the land they are raised on. Their lush surroundings, vibrant scenery and healthy diet imparts a signature herbal, grassy and earthy flavor into a lot of the fresh Spring cheeses you will find in our case this time of year. For that reason, cheese aged in a covering of herbs or whipped with fresh ones is such a harmonious combination. Most people are familiar with goat cheese coated in herbs like Dutch Girl Creamery's Chèvre Frais, but a unique offering like Pecorino Camomilla - coated in chamomile tea is a delightful addition to a Spring cheese plate.


    Start 'Kidding' Around

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    Spring is known to the cheesemaking community as 'kidding season' - the time when baby goats are born and there is an abundance of fresh goat milk. You'll find that most goat cheese aren't aged for very long, due to their tendency to become a bit gamey after extensive aging. However you will find that a little bit of aging goes a long way with Julianna from Capriole Farms, aged for just 3-6 weeks in a light coating of herbs. For a mellow washed rind with a complex palate, try Baetje Farms' extremely seasonal Fleur de la Vallee - it's toasty, buttered bread paste is the perfect complement to crisp, refreshing lagers.


    Paired with Wine

    It's no surprise that pairing cheese with wine is one of our all time favorite ways to enjoy cheese. If you've been inside of one of our stores, you may have noticed that we arrange our wine wall to reflect to reflect the cheese in our case. That means that every bottle we source is a an ideal pairing for artisan cheese, and furthermore we keep them arranged from to light to heavy to make pairing them with subtle to more more complex cheeses much easier. Here's a small sampling of the wine pairings we're playing with this Spring:



    Spritzy and fresh with notes of yellow apple and green pear with the slightest and most fascinating whisper of bubbles on the finish, this wine is Chicago summer in every sip. The ideal pairing for most wines in our cheese case but its magical with the Wabash Cannonball.


    fiction rose can 500x500

    A bold and beautiful Rose that's mostly Grenache that's perfect for outdoor drinking all summer long. Strawberry and cherry fruits followed by a touch of spice make this an ideal match with Prairie Fruits Farms' Chèvre Frais.


    A sunny interpretation of Pinot Gris with just the slightest touch of sweet on the finish. We've also enjoyed how easy it makes our life at the bar. This wine is EXTREMELY versatile in food pairing and quite refreshing on its own but we really really like it with Zingerman's Manchester.

  • La Fournette Bretzel Now Available at Pastoral!

    We've unveiled a new selection of artisan bread offerings from local Alsatian-inspired bakery - La Fournette. Follow us here and on Facebook all week long as we tell you a little bit about each of the breads we'll be carrying from World Champion Baker, Pierre Zimmermann.


    Bretzel is a typical Alsation treat based on the folklore that a king once asked a baker to bake for him a treat where he could see the sun 3 times through it – and thus the Bretzel was born. Soft and chewy with a briny, sea salt crust. Loaded up with our housemade Pimento Cheese or smeared with American Spoon Pickled Mustard Seed, it's the perfect savory snack.

  • Quince & Apple - Pastoral's Artisan Producer Festival Highlights

    Clare and Matt of Quince & Apple Handmade PreservesQuince & Apple small batch preserves are a husband and wife duo making hand-crafted artisan preserves late into the night in their tiny kitchen in Madison, Wisconsin. Matt and Clare Stoner-Fehsenfeld are committed to sourcing local fruits and ingredients with which to concoct their beautiful, not-too-sweet preserves.

    They do everything themselves, and taste test every step of each batch, allowing them to incorporate and adjust for seasonality and varietal from batch to batch. Pastoral has enjoyed a wonderful partnership with Quince & Apple over the years, including savory sandwich bar favorites Shallot and Red Wine Confit and earthy Fig and Black Tea Jam.

    Taste their delicious small-batch, handmade preserves at Pastoral's 4th Annual Artisan Producer Festival.

    Held every Spring at Chicago's French Market, Pastoral's 4th Annual Artisan Producer Festival on Saturday, April 12th from 11am - 3pm is a FREE tasting and meet-the-maker event features producers of artisan cheese, bread, beer, wine, charcuterie, confections, and other food stuffs. Along with a stage show packed with chef demonstrations and informative panels.


  • Olive Fougasse and Cheese Bread from La Fournette Now Available at Pastoral Artisan!

    We've unveiled a new selection of artisan bread offerings from local Alsatian-inspired bakery - La Fournette. Follow us here and on Facebook all week long as we tell you a little bit about each of the breads we'll be carrying from World Champion Baker, Pierre Zimmermann.

    cheese breadCheese Bread

    Made with Parmesan, Asiago and Comte, the trio of cheeses add a deliciously salty and complementary flavor to the dough while creating a beautifully golden, crisp crust on top. This baguette makes the perfect crouton to float atop a rich bowl of French onion soup – with even more cheese on top, of course!








    olive fougasseOlive Fougasse

    Fougasse is a traditional flatbread typically associated with the region of Provence. La Fournette crafts theirs with extra virgin olive oil and kalamata olives. The olives add a balanced saltiness, making this a perfect stand alone snack or as a companion to savory dips and spreads.

  • Pastoral Proud to Feature La Fournette Specialty Breads!

    la fournettePastoral is excited to announce a new line of artisan specialty breads to complement our delicious Cook Au Vin baguettes. In the search for the perfect products to grace our shelves, careful consideration is given to sourcing products that show a producer’s dedication to quality, sustainability, community support and authenticity.

    La Fournette Bakery is certainly no exception to these standards. When master baker Pierre Zimmermann opened his French bakery and café in Chicago he was inspired by the 4 generations of expertise and craftsmanship that sustained the 110 year old Zimmermann’s bakery in Schnersheim, France.

    At La Fournette, the Zimmermanns – with Pierre and his sons in the bakery and Michele directing Front of House operations – wish to recreate their family bakery in Alsace while making it uniquely Chicagoan.

    Crusty, aromatic, and flavorful; the way bread is supposed to be, most La Fournette’s breads are made with natural sourdough starters, a slow process that results in superior flavor and texture. All of La Fournette’s products are made in their West Loop bakery which was designed to be energy efficient and operate with minimal waste.

    The Zimmermanns spent years researching and planning before opening La Fournette to ensure their customers in Chicago would enjoy the same quality and small-town welcome that they did in Schnersheim; and now Pastoral is excited and proud to be bringing you some of the best breads from one of Chicago’s best bread makers.

    Stay tuned in the coming days to learn more about the exciting and delicious breads that will be gracing Pastoral’s shelves.

  • Pastoral's Artisan Producer Festival Lineup Announced!

    Each Spring we host nearly 100 producers and vendors from around the world at Chicago French Market to celebrate the makers who make what we do possible. Pastoral's Artisan Producer Festival is in its 4th year, and we are very excited to announce this year's schedule of demonstrations, discussions and more. Not only is this an incredible opportunity to meet these talented local and international culinary artisans and taste their products; there's a chance to learn about them and what they do and (thanks to the generosity of our sponsors) - it's FREE!

    APF web bannerCheck out this incredible lineup of artisan producer presentations, culinary demonstrations and discussions:


    Welcome Announcement - Pastoral co-owner / founder Greg O'Neill


    A Discussion on Innovative Food Entrepreneurship in Chicagoland - presented by culinary incubator Now We're Cookin' owner Nell Funk and incubator manager Natalie Shmulik


    Raw Food Culinary Demonstration - presented by raw food advocate Polly Gaza co-owner of RAW Chicago


    The Art of Pairing Craft Beer and Cheese - presented by Goose Island Beer Company’s resident expert Suzanne Wolcott


    Culinary Demonstration, A Sneak Peek at Bar Pastoral's Upcoming Brunch Menu - presented by Bar Pastoral’s New Chef Brooks Hart


    Specialty Food Association’s “sofi” Awards: Why They Matter to Us All - Presented by Ken Seiter, Specialty Food Association


    Panel Discussion on Heritage Meats, Charcuterie Styles and Techniques - Presented by Brady Lowe, founder of Cochon 555, Michael Sullivan of Cochon 555, Chris Eley of Smoking Goose, Gregory Laketek of West Loop Salumi and Elias Cairo of Olympic Provisions


    Culinary Demonstration, Making of the Girl & the Goat “Pig Face” From Farm to Plate - Presented by Chef Will Cordero of Girl & the Goat


    Artisan Breads of France’s Alsace Region - Presented by La Fournette Bakery Owner Pierre Zimmermann

    We hope you will join us for Pastoral's 4th Annual Artisan Producer Festival, featuring the incredible demonstrations and panels above, plus tons of tasting, meeting and fun - all FREE to the public. Find out more about Pastoral's Artisan Producer Festival HERE

  • Top 5 Picnic Sites in Chicago

    Toast web crop

    They're happy because they're eating cheese, releasing chemicals into the body such as epinephrine, dopamine, and the opioid casomorphin.

    With so many options to choose from, Chicago is a great city for picnicking.  Here are just a few of our personal favorite spots!

    1. Millenium Park (201 E. Randolph)

    Millenium Park Great LawnWhy:  The sprawling lawn in front of the Pritzker Pavillion at Millenium Park is an ideal site for a picnic on any day, but with free concert events like the Grant Park Music Festival, Downtown Sound and the brand new 2013 Millenium Park Film Series
    , Millenium Park turns into the perfect date night or social scene all summer long.

    Picnic Pairing:  Continental Picnic - A great European-inspired picnic that includes firmer cheeses, single-varietal honey and hand-made salumi.
    Wine Pairing:  Pittnauer Burgenlander Rot - This versatile Austrian take on Pinot Noir is light enough for summer sipping, and comes in a 1L bottle!

    2. Movies in the Park

    chicago-movies-in-the-parkWhy:  Check out this great schedule for free public screenings of popular movies at parks all around the city.  It's a great way to check out different neighborhoods and there's movies for all tastes, (we're particularly excited about The Goonies and Ghostbusters).  It's a great way to celebrate popular culture en plein air!

    Picnic Pairing: Sweet and Savory - Just like the movies, you'll get a selection of sweet and salty snacks to much on during the show!
    Wine Pairing:  Alva - It's light and spritzy and goes with popcorn and chocolate just as well as any cheese..

    3. On the boulevards

    LoganSquare-v1Why: Chicago adopted the motto Urbs in Horto, which means City in a Garden in 1837.  In order to beautify the city for its growing population, the system of the Grand Boulevards was conceived.  To this day, the broad, tree-lined Boulevards encase the city to the North, South and West, providing diverse neighborhoods with green space right outside their front door!

    Picnic Pairing:  Locavore - It's all sourced from the Midwest, so it's perfect for a neighborhood get together.



    Shady Lane Riesling - It tastes like sunshine. Seriously.


    4. 57th Street Beach (5700 S. Lake Shore Drive)

    57th street beachWhy: Located just south of the popular Promontory Park (which topped Steve Dolinsky's Picnic List) 57th Street Beach is clean and tends to be less crowded than many of its North Side counterparts.  The beach is within walking distance of the Museum of Science and Industry.  It's also adjacent to Jackson Park, which features fishing, golf, gardens and more, so you can make a day out of your trip after enjoying your picnic on the rocky lake shore!

    Picnic Pairing: Tapas for Two - Inspired by the simple, satisfying cuisine of Spain, the beach is the perfect place to munch on roasted red peppers and briny olives.
    Beverage Pairing: Glass containers won't fly on Chicago Beaches, so make sure to bring a few delicious cans of San Pellegrino soda, available in our stores in Lemon, Orange, Blood Orange and Grapefruit flavors.

    5. Oz Park (2021 N. Burling Street)

    oz parkWhy: Check out the statues in Lincoln Park's Wizard of Oz themed park and revisit one of the most popular stories of our time.  Kids can play in Dorothy's Playlot, or you can stroll through the community flower garden to admire the colors and take a break from the monotony of city life.

    Picnic Pairing: French Countryside - Heighten your sense of nostalgia with rustic French comfort food.  Taste some Country Pate with a crunchy cornichon and you'll forget all about the Wicked Witch...


    Our Continental Picnic ready to eat with some sparkling Rose and a few Go Vino cups so you can open container it in style!  Oh yeah, and if you do bring wine to a public place, please be aware of park policies & be safe and mindful with your alcohol consumption.

    All of Pastoral's picnics cost $39.99 and are built for two.  They include napkins, plates, forks, knives and a full baguette, and are packed into a craft carrier.  Pre-order online 24 hours in advance or call one of our stores to place your order 6 hours in advance.

  • Valentine's Day Pairing!

    In honor of the day of St. Valentine...



    PralusThe Chocolate:

    First we have the Pralus Republique Dominicaine, a 75% cacao dark chocolate bar from one of France’s most respected chocolatiers. This bar combines the culinary expertise of one of France’s chocolate leaders, some of the finest cacao beans on the planet and an exclusive plantation and manufacturing plant. Pralus is one of only a handful of chocolate producers who roast their own beans and who have complete control over the process of converting raw beans (regardless of origin) into the bars on our shelves. Francois Pralus describes this bar as “woody, powerful, and slightly sharp.” I also get a lot of raw herb flavors like sage and basil.

    The Cheesecabot

    Cabot Clothbound is from Cabot Creamery, one of the oldest cheddar producers in the United States. It is aged in the cellars at Jasper Hill for a minimum of 10 months. Made in the English tradition, the infant wheels are wrapped in muslin and brushed with lard before the being lovingly cared for and monitored for the better part of a year. The flavor is at once sharp and buttery, clean and grassy, and just a little sweet.

    Bonarda FrizzanteThe Wine:

    Handpicked, well matured grapes are macerated for 6 days before a double fermentation process. The second fermentation in stainless steel vats produces the bubbles. This is a dry, bubbly red that just sweeps the surface of sweetness. Cocoa, leather, and tannins give rise to pleasant dark berry and fig notes that give this wine depth. The bubbles are fantastic, creating beautiful pink foam and adding an altogether unexpected element to a great wine.

    The Pairing:

    Nothing here does what I would have expected, but they work together beautifully. The wine plays the sweet note, and is very light on the palette in relation to the other two players. The chocolate provides a grounding earthiness, and the cheese is salty and active, bridging the flavors between all three components. I tasted a lot of herbal and wood flavors like lemongrass and soft cherry wood. The chocolate becomes something else entirely in the presence of the cheese and wine, gleaming with naughty, leathery darkness. Likewise, the dry and complex winebecomes sweet and playful. Only the Cabot is even remotely predictable. Smooth, salty cheese, impossibly complex and faceted chocolate and utterly unique red wine is a three-way you don’t want to miss out on this Valentine’s Day!

  • Staff Recipe: Fondue

    We've chosen some of our favorite melty cheeses for this Fondue Recipe!


    • 12 ounces shredded Reading Raclette (about 5 cups)
    • 12 ounces shredded Castelinhos (about 5 cups)
    • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1 medium garlic clove, halved
    • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
    • 1-2 tablespoons Kirsch (optional, or substitute with Brandy)


    1. Toss the cheeses and cornstarch in a large bowl with your fingers until thoroughly combined; set aside.
    2. Rub the cut sides of the garlic halves all over the inside of a medium saucepan.
    3. Add the wine and bring to a boil over medium heat.
    4. Add the cheese mixture to the saucepan a handful at a time, stirring between additions, until all the cheese has been added and is melted, and a smooth mixture has formed.
    5. Add the Kirsch, if using, and stir to combine.
    6. Transfer the mixture to a fondue pot* and serve immediately with bread for dipping.

    * If you don't have a fondue pot, any apparatus that will allow you to keep the cheese warm and melted will work.

  • Staff Picks: Top 5 Holiday Must Haves!

    During the holidays, the wide variety of gift options can be daunting. Let Pastoral make it easy for you: we've rounded up the Staff Picks for the Top 5 Must Haves this Holiday Season! Our staff is dedicated to the promotion of small batch, artisan products, and each of these gifts represents this philosophy. All of these gifts are available online and in our stores.

    1. Montgomery's Farmhouse Cheddar:

    This Cheddar has a deep umami flavor with grassy, nutty notes. The cloth binding is a traditional step in the Cheddar making process that allows complex flavors to develop. It's perfect when paired with a robust whisky, such as Koval Lion's Pride (found in our stores), as a holiday treat.


    2. Ames Farm Honey:

    Ames Farm is dedicated to producing their honey in extremely small, hive-based batches. These honeys are available in 2 oz & 9 oz jars with a special code that you can input to discover exactly which hive produced your honey!


    3. Pate de Fruits:

     Local confectioner Flora creates these fruity gems using fresh fruit found at Chicago's Green City Market. They go perfectly when paired with a variety of cheeses, including alpine, soft ripened and blue cheese.


    4. Brooklyn Slate Co. Cheeseboard:

    Present your favorite cheeses on this striking black slate, sourced from the maker’s family quarry in upstate New York. Soapstone chalk is included to label cheeses with effortless style.


    5. Schloss Lieser RIesling:

    Rare, balanced and sublime, this Riesling is a delicious addition to your holiday table. Smooth and flavorful, it makes a wonderful gift for any wine-lover!


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