Tuesday, August 11, 2009

St. Paul Cheese Shop

Her exact words escape me, but when the sign in our neighborhood first went up for the St. Paul Cheese Shop, my daughter said something like, "God must really like you." I don't know how God feels, but the cheese shop has been opened for about two months, and I've eaten some very good cheese.

Twin Citizens and residents of the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood probably know the St. Paul Cheese Shop is a new extension of the France 44 Wines and Spirits store in Minneapolis - a destination I rarely could make, and when I could arrange the logistics, the prices limited my shopping. The extension location worried me. Situated about equal distance from Kowalski's and Whole Foods, two good places to shop for cheese, I doubted the viability of a third cheese monger within a mile.

Perched near the intersection of Grand and Snelling, the location's visibility is great. The shop is small, but doesn't require much. Currently, there are about thirty cheeses, each measured and sold to order. They also make a short list of delicatessan sandwiches, and sell gourmet crackers, jams, pate, and other charcuterie. While these items are not in short supply in the area, Kowalski's decided to aim their marketing in this direction about two years ago and Coastal Seafoods across the street targets a gourmet crowd too with condiments etc., all of my visits to the St. Paul Cheese Shop have been a pleasant surprise. The store is always busy.

My daughter's words stem from the fact that our fridge typically has twelve to twenty cheeses, usually a few riper than I care to admit. If I can try a few cheeses, I'll invariably buy the one I like most, and then eat as much as I can. I work it into omelets or quiches at breakfast, sandwiches or macaroni and cheese lunches and sometimes cheese plates at dinner. Unfortunately, my family's enthusiasm doesn't match mine. Most of our cheese selection is in tiny cubes, some trimmed to preserve for another a day.

My taste in cheese runs to mild bleu (Roaring 40's Bleu is a favorite), and nutty hard cheeses, especially Gruyer and Italian hard cheeses (Parmesan Reggiano is a component of all my Mac & Cheese recipes). The St. Paul Cheese Cheese shop is not the place to seek the most obscure cheeses, space limits selection. What is available are some of the best cheeses, e.g. Cowgirl artisan cheeses, and a few novelties. Fans of Wallace and Gromit can pick up Wensleydale (check availability).

My one caveat about the St. Paul Cheese Shop is price. Everything I've gotten there has been fresh and of top quality with good service, but when looking at cheese prices, be careful to note the prices are given in 1/2 lbs, i.e. $12 for 1/2 = $24 per pound. The store is geared to the serious cheese fan, not bargain hunters looking for something to make nachos with.

No comments: