Owner Peter Lovis recently discussed The Cheese Shop, in Concord, Massachusetts, with the American Cheese Society. Below is his favorite “Desert Island” cheese, what new cheese is exciting the staff at The Cheese Shop, and what you can expect when you’re at his store.
How many cheeses do you carry?
Our selection is always changing and evolving. We carry approximately 200 cheeses at any one time, and close to 1,000 over the course of a year, so while loyal to many house favorites, we’re always eager to try something new. We’re constantly experimenting and learning, and love sharing that excitement with our customers.
What is your cheese selection?
We carry a wide selection of both American and International cheeses. We are quite proud to be the exclusive retailer in our region to carry Fromi’s Xavier David line of cheeses, which are sourced from all over France to embody traditional French cheese recipes. At the same time, we take great pleasure in representing local cheesemakers and carrying products handmade in America. Cheese from Crystal Brook Farm, Robinson Farm, Cato Corner Farm, Consider Bardwell and Jasper Hill can always be found on our counter, and we love playing a role in the rapidly growing domestic cheese scene.
Do you have any cheeses you just started to carry that you’re excited about?
We always get excited about new and different cheeses! For almost a year, we have carried cheeses from Jacobs and Brichford Farm in Connorsville, Indiana, and their Ameribella has become one of our house favorites. It is a Taleggio-inspired, washed-rind, Raw Cow’s Milk with a strong, milky, stinky flavor and a silky smooth, buttery mouth feel. From the first taste, we knew it would be a hit with our stinky-cheese loving customers.
Another new cheese on our counter is the West West Blue, a Raw Cow’s Milk Blue from Peter Dixon’s Parish Hill Creamery in West Westminster, Vermont. Made in a two-curd Gorgonzola style, this blue is rich and creamy, with a spicy, tangy finish and a wonderful burst of blue. We feel extremely privileged and excited to carry cheese from one of the most venerable and established cheesemakers in the northeast, and are so happy for him that he’s now making his own cheeses.
Other than cheese, what do you sell?
We sell just about as many specialty items as we can fit in our little shop: everything from fine coffees and teas to jams, chutneys, specialty olive oils, vinegars, pesto, and marinated olives. We have fresh bread, pasta, cookies, crackers, and chocolates – both domestic and imported. We have a finely curated wine and beer selection, and we host tastings every Friday and Saturday. Our deli offers a range of delicious homemade salads, fine meats, and charcuterie sliced to order, as well as famously unforgettable, delicious sandwiches.
Do you have cheese classes? If so, how often do you hold them, and what topics do you cover?
We do indeed! We offer a cheese class on an almost-quarterly basis, with registration through Middlesex Community College. The class is held here in The Cheese Shop, from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm on a weeknight. I teach students about how cheese is made, and introduce them to the five main styles (or “families”) of cheese, tasting more than fifteen different cheeses that exemplify those styles. The classes are designed for people with moderate to zero cheese knowledge, with an interest in learning and tasting as much as possible!
What’s your favorite cheese currently?
This is always an impossible question to answer concisely. Generally, we refuse to limit ourselves to one single favorite, and instead choose favorites within hypothetical categories. For example, your “Desert Island” Cheese is the one you would choose if you had a long life, but could only eat one cheese forever (Parmigiano-Reggiano or Gruyère are favorites in this category); your “Last Supper” Cheese is the one you would eat before you die (Vacherin Mont D’Or, Epoisses, or super ripe Bonne Bouche). Other categories include “The Best Cheese in the House Right Now” (changes every week) and the “Cheese You Take Home The Most” (Crucolo). Each cheeesemonger favors a different cheese in each category, and our favorites can change depending on our mood!
That said, a staff favorite currently is the L’Amuse Aged Gouda. Selected and aged in warm temperatures by affineur Betty Koster, this two-year Gouda shines as one of the best Holland has to offer. It is an arresting sight, large and craggy and deep amber, with bold flavors of burnt sugar and butterscotch. Our most poetic cheesemonger describes this cheese as ‘elemental perfection.’
Do you have any favorite recipes involving cheese?
I tend to honor the cheeses as individuals, and eat them as they are. But there is something to be said for a Crucolo and Speck sandwich drizzled with some EVOO and balsamic on baguette or ciabatta. I also love to drop one of our marinated goat buttons (fresh goat cheeses in EVOO with scallions, parsley, garlic and pink peppercorns) into a bowl of hot pasta, stir it up and have a nearly instant meal.
What’s one of your favorite cheese pairings right now?
Our most recent discovery is the combination of Neal’s Yard Dairy’s Stichelton with Spanish Laquesta Reserva Vermouth; the creamy yet earthy depth of the blue merges with the sweet and bitter complexity of the Vermouth in a truly harmonious way. And given that we are so in love with each of these products individually, the discovery of how well they pair together has been very, very exciting. We share the combo with as many customers as will indulge us. Also, we love the pairing of cheese with cider, particularly Chällerhocker with Bantam Wunderkind Cider; it is as perfect as Sancerre with Valençay, or Port with Stilton.
29 Walden St.
Concord, MA 01752
ACS Member Discount: 10% off cheese purchases
Open Tuesday – Friday, 10:00 am – 5:30 pm; Saturday, 9:00 am – 5:30 pm; closed Sundays and Mondays