Monday, January 31, 2011

Exercising that cerebellum

A week ago I hosted my first Cheese Class: Cheese 101! This introductory class is one that I plan to host repeatedly as it covers the basics of cheese history, different milk types and their characteristics, ageing processes, and then a whole lotta cheese tasting.

I have a really difficult time narrowing down my selection when choosing cheeses for an event, and this was no exception. I decided to limit the very large plate to 14 cheeses that would cover seven basic styles of cheese: fresh, soft-ripened (cow/sheep), soft ripened (goat), washed rind, semi-firm, firm, and blue. For each type I chose one classic European cheese and one domestic, so people could taste an example of one cheese steeped in history and tradition, and then see what some of our amazing American cheesemakers are doing in the same style.

In general, the sold out crowd seemed to love it and I got a ton of wonderful feedback from everyone. But you don't have to take my word for it, two attendees wrote very lovely blog posts about the event, so big thanks to Judith Ramey and Leah of Taking Root.

I'll be planning some extra special tasting events with fellow curd nerds that will focus on specific cheese selections by type or origin, and in the meantime keep your eyes peeled for more Cheese 101 sessions!

Cheese 101 Sunday February 13th 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Please call the shop at 206.467.5447 to reserve your seat!

Monday, January 10, 2011

I will tell you what's awesome

This weekend one of my regulars, Mr. C*, came into the shop. We chit-chatted about our dogs for a bit and when it came time to turn attention to the cheese, he said "What should I buy this week?" I gave him tastes of three newer additions to the case that I'm in love with, each one a home run (his words), and he left a happily cheesed up customer. While that was happening another guy was perusing the case unable to make up his mind. It was obvious to him that Mr. C and I knew each other to a degree where I could make these recommendations, this newcomer remarked on how cool it is to come into the shop and ask for whatever I think they should have. He wasn't buying cheese that day but promised that when he came back he would just buy a selection of my choice.

I don't think I was really aware of it before, but I have this same relationship with several regulars, and come to think of it, that's pretty freakin' cool. One regular always wants a Dinah's cheese and then three or four of whatever I'm currently loving, but she doesn't do super goaty goat cheese nor care much for any of my French tommes. Another woman spends more on cheese than most of us do on the rest our weekly groceries, and she has a wicked appreciation for stinky washed rinds, soupy Spanish sheep's milk torta's, and big, robust blue's. For her it's not so much about conversation, she simply approaches and I start giving her samples of every big hitter I've got. She moans and groans a lot in appreciation, then buys ample hunks of a dozen things to share with her friends.

I could easily go on and on, about the gentleman whose voice I could listen to forever, who will taste half a dozen things but only ever really buys truffle cheese and Caveman Blue. Or the awesome couple who want their taste buds assaulted by things so stinky and sticky I save the over-the-hill bits for them and they love it.

I know I sound like I'm boasting, and hell, maybe I am a little! But really my customers deserve just as many kudos for being so receptive to what I'm doing, and that's my whole point. This is exactly what I wanted when I decided to do this - the same personalized experience I used to have at my local cheese shop, but being on the other side of the deli case is WAY more satisfying, especially when one of my favorite regulars, who's been coming in since opening weekend, tells complete strangers "Just ask Sheri, she'll tell you what's awesome."

*Probably nobody cares, but just in case I'm not mentioning any real names

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year's!

I'm not quite sure how to begin this post other than saying WOW, again and again, WOW, thank you Seattle for making the first (partial) year of The Calf & Kid such a smashing success!

It's a little incomprehensible to think that one year ago at this time I was signing my lease and hyperventilating on a daily basis at the excitement and the intense stress of all that had to be accomplished for me to open. Next thing I knew, it was three months later and the cheese-loving population of Seattle was keeping me busier than I'd ever hoped or imagined. So I wax a little poetic; the experience I've had so far is entirely worthy of it.

The holiday season is expected to be a time when one in retail, specifically food retail, makes more money they than do any other time of year. This being my first holiday season, I wasn't sure to expect. The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving were very slow, and I was a bit worried about how that food-centric holiday would pan out for my shop, but lo and behold, even in the midst of a snowstorm, Seattlites made their way to our counter in droves for delicious cheeses to share with their friends and family. That week was a blast.
Approaching Xmas (and by that I mean anything anyone celebrates during this time), I spent weeks stocking up and up and up, to the point where I had to face my wonderful staff and say "Well shit, if we don't plow through this inventory by the end of the month then we're screwed!"
And again, so many wonderful customers made the end of December the most amazing days ever. I simply could not be happier about this year, and am looking forward to 2011 just as happy as a kid in a bunny suit.

Stay tuned for some amazing events to keep you going through the cold winter months: Sunday afternoon cheese classes, more amazing cheese and wine pairing events with the illustrious Peter Moore of Poco Wine Room, and field trips to meet the cheesemakers and their herds!

Stay cheesey Seattle <3