Cheese Store Wars
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.
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.
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.