Posted by: Rachel | July 30, 2010

pretty cheesey…

If you happen to be in Cambridge, MA on a hot mid-summer afternoon, and you love cheese to boot, I can think of nowhere nicer to be than in the cave at Formaggio Kitchen. This is not a paid endorsement, not at all. I was just lucky that my sister read about the cave tours and that it was a hot day!

This shop is worth a look online if you can’t go in person. You just have to love a cheese shop that includes “stinky” as a delimiter in their Web site search options.

a vast array of cheeses

who says the cheese stands alone?

They seem to be doing a good job of supporting local farmers, as well. They say that about 20% of their current inventory comes from New England, and that the number is growing. Excellent!

The priority for Formaggio Kitchen is quality. They want to sell the best of cheeses regardless of country or area of origin. This shop has been around for over 30 years, and rumor (or legend) says that Julia Child shopped here on occasion. If she didn’t, she should have – she would have loved it!

In any event, the day I visited the sidewalk temperature was in the low 90s, hot even for end-of-July in Cambridge. I was delighted by the array of samples and intrigued by the overwhelming choices of cheeses. The bakery is not to be sneezed at, and they sell all sorts of bread toppings (jams, jellies, butters, olive and other oils, mustards, etc etc etc) as well. Are you hungry yet? MMmmmmm….

My sister inquired about a “cave tour”, assuming that one needed to make a reservation perhaps months in advance. We were lucky. They were busy but not *too* busy and we were able to visit the cave right then. Tripp, our guide, led us as we descended into the bowels of the store and entered one of the most interesting-smelling rooms I’ve ever been in.

Its a small space, which probably feels even smaller than it is as there is only a tiny walkway between the wheels and pots and slabs of cheeses. Tripp seemed to know every single variety and bit of cheese by name. The air in the cave was delightfully cool, and redolent (in the best way you can imagine) of cow, goat, sheep and mold. OK, so that may not *sound* good, but trust me — I wanted to move in.

the cave

Tripp in the cave

Some 15 minutes later, when we emerged, blinking, back into reality, the heat of the day was an awful shock. I could have happily become a cave dweller… but it wasn’t a realistic option. I settled for some Morbier and my dreams.

Now this isn’t to say that we don’t have some mighty fine local cheeses here in the Austin area. I’d put a Pure Luck chevre up against any other any time, but its interesting to see what is going on in other parts of the country. I enjoyed my visit and this week I leave you with Formaggio Kitchen’s recipe page for inspiration. Try a few of them and let us know what you think. Have fun – I’m sure I will!

***
Seems the stories are true. Here is a photo of Julie Child at the shop. (Thanks, Julie C!)

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