As much as I love Whole Foods, I didn’t really have faith in them as my local cheesemonger.  You sell me a Neti Pot, overpriced organic fruit snacks, and now you’re an expert on my cheese?  However, I was impressed at the selection, including well known cheeses (St. Nectaire, Tomme Crayeuse and Époisses), but also some Whole Foods exclusives, like Brie de Normandie. Not quite a Brie de Meaux (an AOC protected cheese) but close.

For those of you who don’t live by a Murray’s, a Bedford Cheese Shop and the like, you should be super happy that a local grocery store has such excellent cheeses. Most Whole Foods cheese counters carry 500+ cheeses, most of which are organic and free of hormones. Hormones are sometimes added to cows’ diets to make them produce more milk. There’s a lot of debate on what these hormones actually do to people. And it’s freaky, so I stay away.

I was totally blown away by how much the guys behind the counter knew. This huge guy in a smock, who I was convinced was lost and should be behind the meat counter was explaining to a woman that the difference between Valdeón and Cabrales is that Cabrales is a little saltier. I was sold.

My dream. Literally, I dream about this...

 

 

Whole Foods has awesome small portions of cheese, small enough that one can nibble by themselves or with a friend. The only real issue is the plastic wrap. Everything is in that stuff. Not that I expect cheese paper, like what you would find at a proper cheese store, but still. (A tip – if you let your cheese sit in plastic too long, it starts to taste like it. Beware, and cut off the pieces that touch the plastic. I’d suggest transferring them to cheese or parchment paper when you get home.) Another drawback is that you don’t get to taste the pre-cut cheese, although they do have a small selection of cut-to-order cheeses behind the counter that you can taste.

One kind of sneaky marketing thing they do is to price their cheeses by the half-pound. Wondering why that Gruyère seems so cheap? That’s why. A tiny bit deceptive, but brilliant marketing.

I’m not 100% sure how I feel about our local grocer becoming an expert on cheese, among the other things he has to talk about. A cheese is much more complicated than say, a carton of juice. But if it gets cheese to the masses, I’m a fan.

~ Dana


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