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24 Hours in St. Paul
By: Sponsored | Posted: 10/31/2013
Cheesemonger?! Silly as it might sound, it's a real word. It's a job title, in fact, and a very real one for Christian Petty. As assistant manager and cheese buyer at Surdyk's Cheese Shop, Christian happens to know a thing or two (okay, a lot of things) about the fascinating world of fromage.
Walking into the Cheese Shop for the first time can be pretty overwhelming! What's the most important thing to keep in mind if you're new to cheese? I'd say that the most important thing is to come to the cheese counter with an open mind. We're here to help you find something you'll love. No need to be nervous! Tell us what you typically enjoy, taste the cheeses we suggest, and don't be afraid to ask questions or tell us your honest opinion. You might be surprised by your favorites.
Domestic cheeses are on the rise. Any predictions for the next big trend in American cheese? We’ve seen a good deal of Clothbound Cheddars, Goudas, and Alpine-style cheeses in recent years, and they are fantastic, often surpassing the original European models in quality. I'd love to see more sheep’s milk cheeses of any kind—hard or soft. I also think it'd be great to see more bloomy-rind, buttery, soft cheeses produced in America. Délice de Bourgogne (triple-crème) is one of our all-time top sellers, and we’d love to have an American counterpart. Customers tend to prefer larger format cheeses like Délice over small, individual wheels—it's less intimidating to purchase a small piece of something than to buy a whole round. So many of the American soft cheeses are in the smaller, individual format, which means they tend to get less exposure.
While we're on the subject of domestic cheese, who are your favorite American producers?
Willi Lehner—Bleu Mont Dairy
This guy is the real deal. He makes his cheeses from organic, grass-fed milk, and then ages them in a hillside cave he built specifically for cheese. He developed his own strain of bacteria for the cave by collecting cheeses from all over Europe, making for a completely unique product. His Bleu Mont is hands-down one of the most well-made cheeses in the country.
Steven and Jodi Ohlsen Read—Shepherd’s Way (Nerstrand, MN)
We’ve been lucky to have a strong relationship with the Read family over the years. They produce some of the finest sheep’s milk cheeses I’ve ever tasted. The Friesago is my current favorite—it’s like a cross between Pecorino and Gouda—sweet, tangy, and, best of all, made from local milk. It’s incredible.
Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl is a senior editor at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.See bio
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