On the Saturday before the Super Bowl, New York magazine writers Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld spent an hour at my cheese counter talking shop both about cheese and about journalism.
I figured nothing bad could come of that, and indeed something very positive has. It was an eight page story in the issue of the magazine with Alec Baldwin on the cover, and this slideshow at Grub St. http://grb.st/1c4QnJx
Yes, it’s a big positive because the shop I work at is featured as are many cheeses that we carry, but it has potential to be a much bigger game changer. It could begin an important change in the way people shop for cheese.
I think there are three levels of shopping when it comes to something like cheese and it’s best illustrated by the parallels in wine and beer. Level one is someone who just drinks a mainstream mass market beer or wine (Bud, Yellowtail, whatever). Level two are the people who have forsaken the mass market but have settled on Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada or a particular bottle of Bordeaux. Level three are the people who are into exploring; they go to beer bars eager to see what’s new or visit wine shops with an eye toward expanding what they know.
In cheese thousands and thousands of people have advanced from level one (supermarket crap) to level two, but far too many of them are stuck at Manchego, St. Andre, Cave Aged Gruyere, Taleggio, or yep, Humboldt Fog rather than moving deeper into the cheese case and discovering the wonders that await them. I understand the reluctance. A wine or beer that doesn’t agree with your preferences is still an alcoholic beverage. A washed rind cheese that is past its prime is for most people just a smelly mess.
Rob and Robin’s article whether in print or in the nifty slide show via the Grub St. link, offers people a solid checklist of other cheeses they should be checking out. It’s like a road map into level three.
I’d say the fact that I’ve had far more customers in the last week ask about Winnimere than complain about the price of my Roquefort is a solid sign that a change is gonna come.