Sunday, June 6, 2010

A tidbit of downtime

Today marked a really important achievement for me: my first Sunday off! After just six weeks open, I think that's one hell of a thing. I have my amazing staff to thank for this, as I feel entirely comfortable leaving the cheese reins in their hands so I can take a few hours off here and there. Tomorrow will be the last Monday "off", spent running errands and catching up for the week, after which I will be open 7 days a week to meet the demands of the cheese-loving population of Seattle.

On the business end, I could not be happier. I can't believe so much time has gone by so quickly, and that's a testament to how busy we've been. Every week I order hundreds of pounds of cheese, and I look at my overstuffed deli cases and fridge of back storage and think "crap, how am I going to sell all this?" Then by Sunday the case is down to three quarters of it's capacity and I am amazed over and over again at how much the product just sells itself. Of course, it's not really all as cut and dry as that, I monger the heck out of my cheese, and I love it. Long ago when I was coming up with bits and pieces for my "elevator pitch" for investors, one of my favorite lines was "You will walk away with a cheese you love and a great story to tell." I'm so plussed to say that is really the case. If you ask me what day of the week it is, I'll be stumped for five minutes, but ask me about amazing washed rind cheese from Jean Faup of the Pyrenees and I'll give you a 2 minute history lesson.

On the cheese end, I am beyond stoked to have some really unbelievable cheeses in stock this month. Locally, Gothberg Farms up in Bow, WA has been making greek style yogurt that is transcendent, as well as some amazing grilling cheese called Queso Blanco: pressed curd with a little apple cider vinegar that carmelizes upon hitting heat and is just Delicious with a capital D. Also from Ancient Heritage in Oregon comes an aged cow and sheep mixture called Hannah Bridge. I am doing cartwheels over this cheese. I'm twiddling my fingers with delight at the thought of the first rounds of Queso de Oveja from Black Sheep Creamery near Chehalis, WA, which should be leaving the cave very soon. There are so many more, but those are a few at the forefront of my brain right now.

From across the giant pond, I am expecting my first delivery from Neal's Yard Dairy, which will bring all the great cheddars and stinky Stilcheton my devoted customers have been pining for. From France, I have a few rounds from Jean Faup, a third generation cheesemaker and affineur from the Pyrenees. His cheeses are absolutely divine; perfectly balanced and delivering a flavor experience that makes you feel as though you're sitting among the high mountains of northern France. Also arriving next week will be a small air-shipment of lovely, delicate cheeses from France and Italy, including my much-loved La Tur, a three-milk bloomy rind mound of cheese ecstasy, and more of the "brain cheese" from France; the stinky, creamy, gorgeous Langres.

I'm very proud of Seattle for loving these crazy cheeses that make my knees buckle every time they hit my mouth. Vive la fromage!

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