We’re often asked how we decide which cheeses to feature in our case? The answer is simple: We eat! We taste! We research!
We travel when possible. We visit cheese producers at their dairies and farms to see what new projects they have up their sleeves. We actively participate in the American Cheese Society and collaborate with other cheese-centric groups. Of course, we also take into consideration the need for diversity in milk types, cheese styles, and geographic origin.
And ultimately, we choose products we like to eat ourselves.
Everyone asks us if we have a list of cheese and alas, we don’t. Our cheese list changes all the time.
Some cheeses are only available at certain times of the year. We also rotate our selection to keep it interesting for you and us and to highlight as many cheesemakers as we can. That’s the beauty of cheese. There’s always something new to explore
Where do we start? Some would say it’s the unique background of our owner, Steve Duty. His food pedigree includes a degree from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America as well as stints as a professional winemaker and cheesemaker. Those, and his lifetime of tasting great food, show throughout Cheese+Provisions.
Others would say it’s the “no food snob” attitude we work hard to cultivate in the shop. Cheese should be fun, not intimidating. We work hard to make C+P a fun and “safe” place to explore.
Others still would say it’s the unique collection of cheeses we curate. We use our relationships with American cheesemakers to bring you hard-to-find, small-batch cheeses. And then we put an emphasis on telling the story of every cheese from farm to plate.
In truth, it’s probably all three that come together to make a visit to Cheese+Provisions unlike other shops you may have been to.
We think that’s part of what makes us special. Sure, you could go to a supermarket where all the cheese is already cut and wrapped. But those pretty pieces of cheese in the case, wrapped so tightly in their plastic wrap, are strangled and dead. They stopped breathing and died a long time ago.
By not doing that, we ensure all our cheese is alive and at its peak of flavor. We make it possible for you to taste before you buy. And we let you buy as little or as much as you want. In the end, it’s better for you and better for the cheese. And it lets us get to know you when you come by so we can help you expand your cheese experiences.
That’s a fair question, and can get pretty complicated. To begin with, many of the cheeses we sell are made by small artisan farms, using traditional techniques. They don’t benefit from economies of scale and they haven’t automated their production. But this shows in the amazing tastes they can produce, versus industrialized cheeses.
Keep in mind as well, that although a cheese may cost $30 a pound, very few people ever buy a pound of cheese. Most are buying a $7.50 quarter of a pound, which is enough to share with two to four people. But it’s even more complicated than that. This blog post from the cheese ninja Liz Thorpe does an even better job of explaining it.
You can start with the “Cheese Smarts” section of our web site. It gives you the basics–different categories of cheese, how to store it, how to pair it, how to serve it, etc. But that just scratches the surface.
There are so many great resources out there to deepen your cheese knowledge. The three books we always have behind our counter for reference are: Mastering Cheese by Max McCalman, Italian Cheese and French Cheese. Just looking at the pictures of the last two remind us why we love cheese so much. We would also strongly recommend Laura Werlin’s books.
There are also some great cheese blogs and web sites. Among our favorites: