GREENWICH, Conn. -- Greenwich area residents who take pride in knowing their Stilton from their Roquefort can delight in the opening of the Greenwich Cheese Company, a new East Putnam Avenue shop dedicated to the delicate art of cheese-making.
Owners Laura Downey and Chris Palumbo are Fairfield residents who founded their first cheese shop in their hometown in 2009. Since then, they have found success with a focus on offering high quality, artisanal cheeses from New England and around the world.
“When we started, we saw that there wasn’t anything like this in the area: a place where cheese was cut from a large format, and cut to order at the counter,” Palumbo says. “Here in Greenwich it seemed like there was a real need for it as well.”
And according to Downey, cutting customer’s orders directly from large blocks or wheels is a crucial factor in ensuring that the cheese’s original taste is preserved.
“When you buy cheese from the supermarket,” she says, “it can be sitting in plastic wrap for weeks at a time, which can drastically alter the flavor of the cheese. So cutting from a large format really comes down to selling better-tasting cheese.”
Ordering directly off the block also brings the added benefit of being able to sample a cheese before you buy it, a perk that becomes especially valuable when trying to wrap your head around Downey and Palumbo’s extensive and diverse list of offerings. The dozens of cheeses are broken down by category (semi soft, firm, blue) and by animal of origin (cow, sheep, goat), and feature selections both familiar and obscure.
If you do find yourself feeling intimidated by names such as Moses Sleeper, Chällerhocker, or Vlaskaas, don’t worry: staff is always on hand to guide you to a cheese you’ll love.
“We ask a couple of questions about what kind of flavors they like, whether they enjoy bold or mild cheese,” Palumbo says. “But from there we just put cheese in their hand and get them tasting, then try to go from there.”
For those with a more advanced interest, the shop plans on offering classes, beginning in January. But the owners try to be welcoming to cheese lovers of all varieties.
“We are serious about what we do, and we’re educated, but we don’t want to be intimidating,” Palumbo says. “It’s really good cheese, but it’s just cheese. It’s not rocket science.”
The Greenwich Cheese Company, which officially opened last Thursday, ( fairfieldcheese.com , 203-340-9227) is located at 154 E. Putnam Ave, and is open Mondays through Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Fairfield Cheese Shop is located at 2090 Post Road (203-292-8194). It is open Mondays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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