Saturday, August 6, 2011
Out and About: Saunders Cheese Market
And so it came as a bit of shock, when we moved to Bermtopia from -- shhhh -- Southern California 24 years ago this month, that cheddar, Swiss, jack, mozzarella (the pizza kind, not fresh), parmesan (in a can) and American cheeses were pretty much the inventory in most grocery stores.
(I refuse to include Velveeta in the cheese family.)
Oh, I suppose if I looked really hard, I might have scared up the odd container of feta or blue cheese crumbles and, if lucky, encountered a baked brie (purchased in Seattle and reverently transported to the east side of the state) at the odd holiday open house. But, straight up, it was pretty slim cheese pickins' in these parts back in 1987.
Of course, in 1987, this also was a town that defined ethnic food by the dozen or so Chinese restaurants crowded along the north-central end of Division Street.
I'm happy to report it's better now.
It started when the unctuous Huckleberries opened just down the street. Think Whole Foods. . . but not really. You might detect I have a love-hate relationship with Huckleberries.
Nevertheless, Huckleberries came with an expanded cheese "bar" with a small, but serviceable (and expensive) selection of domestic and imported cheeses pre-packaged in $100 portions. It was reported there was an even an employee there dedicated to answering all questions related to cheese. I never found her. She was probably too busy ignoring customers trying to place orders in the bistro.
Then came Saunders Cheese Market. A shop dedicated to cheese, cheese and nothing but cheese. Domestic. Imported. American. French. Italian. Spanish.
Aside from the concentration of the most delicious cheeses in Bermtopia, here are the two best things about Saunders:
1. The Saunders Cheese Ladies: They know their business. Tell them you're serving boiled rubber tires and cold, day-old coffee at your next book group, and they will come up with the perfect pairing in cheese. They have never let me down.
2. Samples: If you look the least bit dubious, they whip out a taste of the cheese you're considering. I honestly think I could spend an afternoon at Saunders, working my way down the display case by simply tasting samples of cheese and going "Gee, I don't know. . . . ."
Note to self: Must try this soon.
And, oh, you can purchase the serving size of your choice, not $100 pre-cut chunks of cheese that will take you years to consume. If they doesn't mold first. Now there's a concept.
While the purveying of cheese is Saunders true raison d'etre, they also carry a lovely assortment of olives, sausages, crackers, preserves and other "snacks" (preserved walnuts, where have you been all my life?) that you can add to that lovely plate of cheeses you're serving at your next soiree. And, of course, you guessed it, the Cheese Ladies can help you in this department as well.
So thank you, Saunders Cheese, for resolving the cheese shortage problem in Bermtopia. I (and my hips) thank you.
Now, if we could only keep an Indian restaurant in town for more than 45 minutes.