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Cheese Store Wars

August 31, 2012

If all goes according to plan, later today I’m going to pop into All Good Bakers and finally try their semifreddo. While I’m there, I hope to poke my head into The Cheese Traveler next door and see how Eric Paul is progressing in setting up his shop. Of course, he may be taking care of things off site, so I may be out of luck.

It feels like forever since I’ve seen some of my favorite food people. I’m blaming summer. But as summer is ending, I’m catching up on lost time.

Just yesterday was my first visit to Adventure in Food Trading since the summer began. I was excited to find that they have finally finished the second giant walk-in refrigerator. However, it’s been that way for months now. Like I said, I’ve been quite delinquent. There are new people working there too, like Danielle Gagner and Jason Baker. And it was great to see them both.

Still, I was most excited about the cheese.

Before I tell you about what I found at Adventure in Food, I want to point you toward a post Eric Paul recently wrote on The Cheese Traveler blog. It was entitled Cheese Wars?

It’s a little bit long. So let me try and summarize. Competition among cheese shops is a good thing. A big part of what will set places apart is the knowledge and skill of the cheesemonger. By knowing how to care for, properly cut to order, and wrap the cheese in something other than plastic, a well-trained cheesemonger will provide their customers with tastier products.

I’ve been saying this for a long time, just in reverse. Since moving to this town and hearing raves about the Honest Weight Food Co-op cheese counter, I’ve been appalled that all their cheeses are pre-cut and pre-wrapped in plastic.

The competition between these two cheese sellers may never quite escalate to the level of a war. But without a doubt, The Cheese Traveler will be just another new business in the Capital Region that chips away at the HWFC market share. I like to remind the HWFC of this, because they’ve gone on the record as saying they have no competition.

But anyway, this is not a two horse race. There are a lot of places to get specialty cheeses in this town. And you’ll never believe what I found at Adventure in Food.

Their new walk-in refrigerator is pretty much exclusively dedicated to cheese. The shelves that line the left side are mostly international cheeses, and on the wall opposite are the ones that are produced in the region. It’s a magnificent place.

The staff at Adventure is always very helpful, but I know my way around cheese and had fun poking around the shelves, opening up boxes and checking out the wheels inside. As I made my way down the International shelves, there it was.

Fiore Sardo!

I’ve been looking for this cheese for years. Actual pecorino (aka sheep’s milk cheese) from Sardinia. It’s the one critical ingredient I’ve been missing to make true Genovese Pesto a la Marcella Hazan. It gets blended in with the parm reg to lend a bit more depth of flavor that only a grated sheep’s milk cheese can provide.

Now if only Roxbury farm can figure out how to grow green basil again, I’ll be in business. The purple basil has been a nice back-up, but it’s a far cry from the aromatic intensity of the real thing.

Some people are just never satisfied.

-

Oh, and by the way. Todd at Adventure in Food also suggested that my problem with the spoon at Dante’s frozen yogurt was user error. Luckily, he taught me the technique taught to him by his grandfather. It’s great to have generations of familial wisdom to solve one’s problems. Even if it’s from somebody else’s family.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. -R. permalink
    August 31, 2012 11:39 am

    Your Yelp review of Dante’s is BEGGING for an “actors reading Yelp reviews” video; I actually read it out loud in an overly dramatic thespian voice to try it out. It’s a classic. Happy Labor Day.

  2. August 31, 2012 12:04 pm

    Daniel, because I know how important Fiore Sardo is to you, I have a sourced for my opening order a Pecorino Fiore Sardo that is made on a single farm using raw sheep’s milk. It is aged for six months, name controlled, and certified organic. Fiore Sardo is traditionally smoked, so true to form, this one is smoked by the cheesemaker using bark from local cork trees.

  3. kathleenlisson permalink
    August 31, 2012 12:59 pm

    I have been scared to try cheese since returning from Paris earlier this month. I will have to check out Adventure in Food.

  4. Jessica R permalink
    August 31, 2012 2:43 pm

    So, what’s the technique? :-)

  5. Zak permalink
    August 31, 2012 4:58 pm

    I think you will be happy to hear Daniel, I purchased a cut to order Fiore Sardo fron Honest Weight last week and they even wrapped it in new Formaticum cheese paper. So I guess they are staying true to their word. They will cut any cheese to order and wrap it in official cheese wrapping paper!!!

  6. The Writer permalink
    September 1, 2012 7:58 pm

    Hey! It’s Wendy, your Facebook friend. Right on with your assessment of what makes a good cheese shop. I wish I lived closer so I could pop in and see how Eric is doing, too. And congrats on finding Fiore Sardo. It’s a nice cheese!

  7. September 4, 2012 9:47 am

    Fiore Sardo is delicious! And also one of Todd’s favorite cheeses… it doesn’t stay in house long, I can tell you that.

  8. Michaeline permalink
    September 6, 2012 5:02 pm

    Okay….so what IS happening with The Cheese Traveler? It’s been more than 4 months since he plastered his logo on the windows of his “opening soon” store on Delaware Ave. What gives? We want cheese!

  9. September 7, 2012 11:19 am

    We really appreciate your enthusiasm! The Cheese Traveler is a small family-run business (Eric Paul, his wife and kids) and we are doing the renovations and have secured financing ourselves. We are finishing renovations, working on permits, and compiling opening orders. We will be announcing an opening date once we get a certificate of occupancy.

    In the meantime, you can buy cheese from us at the Delmar Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings and at the Delaware Avenue Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays. Currently Mingle is offering a cheese plate/beer or wine flight featuring our cheeses and crackers from our neighbor All Good Bakers. Feel free to contact us at thecheesetraveler@earthlink.net.

    And…keep your eyes peeled for our next blog post about the store…

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