The Case of the Unrefrigerated Cheese

24 Jun

Am I the only one who has wondered why Formaggio Kitchen—Best Cheese Shop in the Country™—gets to keep its cheeses outside at room temperature, albeit covered by a film of plastic wrap, when most of the other stores have them refrigerated and cryovacked?

I’ve thought about it every time I’ve gone in there, and finally asked Kurt Gurdal why all the other cheese shops can’t do it. “Is it that they can’t do it or that they don’t want to?” he said.

It turns out that it’s perfectly legal in most towns to keep aged cheeses out in the same way as Formaggio (some soft, blue, and fresh cheeses still do need to be kept cold). But it’s a lot more work to do so. You have to put all the wheels in the walk-in at night and clean them off each morning to prevent mold. Lots of labor. So most stores opt out.

The advantage, though, is that cheeses taste their absolute best at room temperature. And since Formaggio has its own cave under the store, where every specimen is brought to absolute ripeness before it even makes it up to the floor, any cheese you buy is in peak condition when you walk out the door.

What you do after that is up to you. If I know I’ll be eating my cheese quickly, I keep it under a bell dome on the counter. Otherwise, I do wrap it up in cheese paper and refrigerate, then let it come to room temp before serving.

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One Response to “The Case of the Unrefrigerated Cheese”

  1. Jen Dean July 29, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    This place sounds absolutely amazing. I am adding it to my list of “Must Visits”. Thank you!

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