A couple years back Mart and I purchased the book “My Last Supper, 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals” by Melanie Dunea. In the book, famous chefs like Bobby Flay, Nobu, Jamie Oliver, Jacques Pepin, Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and Anthony Bourdain share what they would eat if they knew their next meal would be their last meal on earth. We were both surprised how many of these acclaimed chefs narrowed down their last meal to simple, maybe even basic foods, like a certain kind of bread, with a cheese from a specific area of France, or a rare olive oil with a particular sea salt.
Going to Artisan Cheese Company, I can understand why Chefs who could order anything would focus on the simply sublime. There is nothing quite like a really good, awesomely delicious, piece of cheese with a bite of crusty bread or crisp salad.
Now, as much as I LOVE cheese, I know enough to know that I don’t know enough about cheese. At Artisan Cheese Company, you don’t have to! Local cheesemongers, and owners, “Cheese” Louise and Parker Converse, offer hand-cut to order artisanal and farmstead cheeses from across the region, the country and Europe. And if you want to become a cheese aficionado, you can sign up for one of their Cheese 101 classes, or attend one of their cheese tastings or informational sessions on cheese parings, or cheeses from a certain region of the world. Cheese Louise know her cheese, and wants you to as well.
Located on lower Main Street, Artisan Cheese Company is a short walk from our downtown office at Coldwell Banker. So when Mart began visualizing a lunch of hot mac n’ cheese, I knew exactly where we were headed. We both believe no one anywhere makes a better mac ‘n cheese than Artisan Cheese Company. Ask Louise what five cheeses she uses in her hot, bubbly Mac + Five Cheese entree and she’ll confess that the 5 (or even 6, when she forgets to count) cheeses are influenced by the cheeses she has in stock. Maybe that’s her way of hiding a secret ingredient . . . we don’t care. Just bring it on.
You can order the Mac + Five Cheeses with, or without a salad, but given a choice, we recommend you include the salad with your order. We had enjoyed the mac’n cheese before, but this was the first time Mart ordered one of Artisan Cheese Company’s salads. Known as The Abundant Salad, Mart could not get over how many different ingredients were in the salad. While there are five cheeses in the mac’n cheese, there must be a dozen ingredients in the salad! There was arugula, cucumber, radishes, tomato, olives, spinach, three colors of peppers, avocado, watercress, shaved cheese (naturally) and just the exact right amount of Parker’s house-made salad dressing.
Knowing that the Mac + Five Cheeses is quite large, and seeing as I was going to swipe some off Mart’s plate anyway, I ordered the Berry & Feta Salad. made with cucumber in a bed of arugula with with strawberries and black berries topped with feta and a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar. To say this salad was a sight of beauty is an understatement. To say it was delicious is to be expected. To say that I thoroughly enjoyed it — and the mac’n cheese I swiped from Mart, is the reason we’re blogging about it!
There’s a wonderful wood table and chairs near the window that Parker made himself. (He is a master woodworker, don’t you know). Diners can pull up a chair at the community table and help themselves to the nearby coffee station. While we were dining we noticed a few customers come in, pay for a cup of coffee, serve themselves and (get this) LEAVE without buying any cheese? How is that possible? One of the ladies in question said she’s in most every day, and just had lunch there the day before.
The menu choices are simple. There’s the Abundant Salad, with or without bread and cheese, the Berry + Feta Salad, a Hummus plate (house-made, naturally), the Mac + Five Cheeses and a grilled cheese sandwich, which I plan to order next visit. In fact, I can’t wait! I hear it’s large enough to share, so maybe I’ll let Mart order it and swipe from his plate again. I hear there are no calories that way!
In addition to a wonderful selection of savory cheeses, Artisan Cheese Company stocks a totally engrossing selection of oils, salts, honeys, jams and chutneys that you can open there and enjoy on the spot, or take home to stock your larder or give as gifts. The store has that cozy feel of an intimate European shop, where sampling is encouraged and the love of truly good food is always the topic of the day.
Next time you plan a dinner party, why not consider one of the custom cheese plates from Artisan Cheese Company? Not only does it take some of the guessing out of your menu, you’ll look brilliant to your family and friends, as they gather round and exclaim “That was the best (insert cheese name here) I’ve ever had!