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Artisan Cheese Company: Fine cheese with a side of knowledge

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  • | 3:31 p.m. July 31, 2014
  • Arts + Entertainment
  • Eat + Drink
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Located at the lower end of Main Street, just west of the Palm Ave intersection, The Artisan Cheese Company opened its doors to Sarasota in March, 2012. It's a small shop, tastefully decorated, brimming with charm, warmth, and of course, product. A visit is always a rewarding and often times educating experience. With a strong focus on seasonal American farmhouse and Artisanal cheeses, the Artisan Cheese Company offers hand-cut-to-order cheeses from across the region, country and Europe. Additionally, the shop stocks complementary items such as oils, salts, honeys, jams and chutneys to enjoy with your cheese or as a standalone.


The staffs of cheesemongers come from varied backgrounds, love cheese and everything about it and are passionate about sharing their knowledge with you. The team will advise you as needed or guide you to the newest stinker or gooiest bloomy bit of magic. If the service level stopped here, one would be delighted with their experience. However, the Artisan Cheese Company is on a mission: Take the intimidation factor out of the cheese-buying experience. In fact, Louise Kennedy Converse, aka “Cheese Louise,” the shop’s proprietor has often said “There's nothing to be afraid about when buying. It is just cheese.”

Cheese 101

Putting its mission statement into action, the Artisan Cheese Company offers a series of classes focusing on themes such as:

  • The Best of American Artisanal Cheese
  • Cheese 101
  • Building A Cheese Plate
  • Cheese From Across The Atlantic
  • Cheese From Across The Region

Recently, I took the Cheese 101 class to experience the learning firsthand. I found the class to be informative, interactive and entertaining. Casual yet structured, Cheese 101 takes you through a tasting of eight to 10 cheeses. The class begins with mild-tasting, young, fresh cheese and then progresses to a more robust, aged flavor and everything in between.

Participants taste, talk and learn. The cheesemongers lead the discussion on each cheese, providing the class background on the science, production and the specific cheese to be tasted. Highlights and characteristics of the dairy farm are also discussed and provided in a paper handout with space for tasting and reference notes. In addition to the cheeses, there are three wines and six to 12 pairing items for the cheese. Participants are encouraged to try different combinations and share their findings with the class. As an added incentive, all the cheese tasted in the class is offered for sale with a 15% discount that evening. The cost of the Cheese 101 class is $45.


Enhance the Taste

When it comes to food, I find a little bit of knowledge goes a long way to enhance the taste. Whether it is wine, whiskey, beer, coffee, tea or cheese, just knowing a little bit about the producer, the expected tastes and aroma all contribute to enhancing the tasting experience. It has been said that knowledge is power. Perhaps it should also be said, “knowledge is better tasted!”

If you have not yet experienced the Artisan Cheese Company, why not stop in and see for yourself what a delightful experience can be had on the lower end of Main Street.


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