Monday, May 24, 2010

Seattle, I salute you!

The past week has been crazy busy, thank you Seattle cheese lovers!
I've been selling out of many favorites such as Kurtwood Farms Dinah, the lovely Camembert-style round that is taking the Pacific Northwest by storm.

Also in demand lately; Gioia Burrata, authentic Italian family-made Burrata from L.A. It is affordable, delicious, you'd never know it wasn't coming from across the giant pond as the family moved their entire production from Italy to California years ago and continue to make a stellar product.

New in the case (and almost sold out!); Ascnootney Mountain from Cobb Hill (aged by Jasper Hills in Vermont), this cheese is one I'm saying should have a 12 step program named after it. Also from Jasper Hill, a new favorite of mine, Oma from the Von Trapp Farmstead Creamery, this cheese is way up on my list of amazing washed rind domestic cheeses. Kudos to the Von Trapp folks, and to Jasper Hills for this amazing cheese!

In other news, last Friday, May 21st, marked the one month anniversary/birthday of the Calf & Kid! Thanks SO much to everyone who has made it into the shop, I can't believe that I already have "regulars", and to boot there are people waltzing in every day figuring out that we're open. I am just over the moon as a new cheesemongress :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

By popular demand: Stacey Von Cheesemongress!

It took me a few weeks to nail down my other fabulous employee, Stacey, for a quick photo op so I could give her the blogging love she so deserves.

Stacey came to find me in a roundabout cheese-geeky way that makes for an awesome story. She had just finished reading Gordon "zola" Edgar's awesome memior, Cheesemonger: Life on the Wedge, and was in love, both with his book and with cheese. She emailed him with well-deserved compliments on his book, and to ask if he had any advice for getting into the cheese biz. Gordon, the awesome dude that he is, remembered me from last year's ACS conference in Austin, and told her to look me up. She did, months later we met for an informal interview over coffee, and the rest is history.

Stacey's deep love of fine food took her to Chocopolis where she has been since they opened just over a year ago. While honing her expert knowledge in all things chocolate, she continued to learn about cheese on her own, and snagged the coveted Seattle Cheese Festival Scholarship in 2009.

Stacey clearly has a great foundation for her budding new career in cheesemongering, but it's her outgoing, friendly personality that made me hire her. She's a ton of fun to talk cheese with, and I'm super happy to have her in the shop. Here she is with a round of cheese that I'm calling my new boyfriend, Le Grand Lou Bren, a raw sheep milk cheese from the Larzac region of France.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

That stride, I'm feelin' it

Just over two weeks into the shop and I am amazed at how much I already feel at home in my new second home.

Business has been great, the first weekend and week were full of those who have been devotedly following my progress and no less than a dozen congratulatory bottles of bubbly, beer, and vino have been graciously handed over to my blushing face. It has been so exciting to meet many well-known food purveyors of Seattle. Each time a chef, cook, small foodie business owner or otherwise has stopped in to buy some cheese and introduce themselves I have been maximizing my plussed factor. The rest of the crowd have been those foot-traffiker's I've been waiting for; those who are wandering around the area in our glorious Seattle spring weather and just happen to stumble upon us. So many people are just realizing that we are, in fact, open while other construction is being done, and they are just as excited as I am about our new space. Already we have regulars, and they love trying new things out each time just as much as I love recommending them. In the mix have also been a few of the self-important food snobs of the area making their stink among the cheese, but at the end of the day they are a good, grounding reminder that although I am now "the boss", I am really answering to every person who walks through the doors of the Melrose Market. Oh, and yes, that is now our live site! Big fat thanks and kudos to Dax Borges of Dax Digital Design for cutting us a great deal on website development. He will certainly be getting some massive cheese love from yours truly.

Onto cheese news, the Burrata and Burricota has been flying out of the deli case! I am so incredibly happy and proud of the Seattle community for loving this product. Fresh products are always a bit of a gamble as they have a much shorter shelf life than aged cheese. While I had a few people out there tell me prior to opening "if you carry Burrata, I will be your whore", I was still a bit nervous about putting this delicacy on the shelves as it is something I can't really sample out, and I worried that people who weren't familiar with it wouldn't "get it". Turns out, so many shoppers have had that awesome face light up and almost inaudible squeak when they say "you have Burrata!" Those who I have "sold" it to, in the sense that they hadn't encountered it previously, have come back just days later for more. I am super happy to say that I cannot supply the demand for this luscious product.

In addition to all of the amazing cheese, both local and from beyond the giant pond, I am really stoked to be carrying Washington's own fresh farmhouse butter and mozzarella from Golden Glen Creamery, fresh cheese and sheep's milk Ricotta from Black Sheep Creamery, a wide selection of delectable fine goat cheese from Gothberg Farms, and gods, so many others this post could go on forever!

Keep checking in for daily news via Facebook and Twitter for the goods as they arrive!

xoxoxoxoxo to you Seattle

Monday, May 3, 2010

My new familia

Among the many saving graces I have for the opening and ongoing success of the shop are my staff. Other cheese shop owners I know in various parts of the country have had great luck finding people who are smart, capable, and have a deeply vested passion for fromage. In fact, some of their employees have been with them from day 1 and still going strong years later. I was hopeful that this would be the case for me, but expected to slog through hundreds of replies via craigslist and the whole hiring thing was not something I was looking forward to. Fortunately, I started getting inquiries and resumes from interested people almost a year before opening, so when it came time to start interviews I had a good handful of awesome cheese lovers to chat with, without having to post a help wanted ad at all.

Among those gregarious cheese freaks are my first two employees, Kristin and Stacey, and they both deserve a big fat kudos for helping me get my cheese baby off the ground.

Kristin hails from San Francisco, and has been an avid foodie for years. She was a server at The Corson Building since it opened just a few years ago, and she has a passion for great food that matches my own. She is one of the most fun, energetic, magnetic personalities I've come across in a while, and it's no surprise that she's formed many great relationships with other members of the Seattle food community. If you're a food lover, chances are you've encountered Kristin and her adorable smile and wicked wit at some point.

She is an absolute natural behind the cheese counter. She loves people and talking to them about cheese and food in general, I couldn't be happier and more grateful for getting her awesome energy in the shop. Here she is on the day before opening with our first round of cheese cut and ready to go into the deli case.

You'll likely see and speak with Kristin just as much as myself when you come into the shop. She is one hell of a cheese vixen in training.