When we think of specialty cheese, we think of its accompaniments—wine, beer, fruit, jam and perhaps a platter of charcuterie—but the cheese itself is generally always served fresh and in its original form, served pure and simple.
Located in the heart of the Canadian prairie, Winnipeg had high hopes of being the Chicago of the North. In the early 1900s, Main Street was home to nearly 40 financial institutions, and the city’s train station was a scale model for New York’s Grand Central Terminal. WWI and financial turmoil intervened, and those plans never quite materialized. Today, the city is Canada’s seventh-largest, with a population of around 700,000. However, Winnipeg is home to a burgeoning food scene that is considered to be Canada’s most underrated—and cheese has played a large role in the culinary renaissance.
What do you get when you combine childhood friends who have known each other since attending fifth grade at the same New York City prep school, an instant romance and experience working at one of the city’s finest restaurants? A one-year-old cheese and wine restaurant located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn called Denizen.
For more than six years, serious foodies have been making their way along the windy country roads of Chester County, PA to Coventryville, a tiny hamlet in this rural area rich in early Americana. Rather than coming to explore historical sites and memorabilia, however, these travelers come to dine at La Maison, the charming 1717 stone and stucco home of Janet and Martin Gagné, where each Friday and Saturday night chef Gagné prepares a stellar seven-course country French dinner. His genial wife, as maîtress d’, greets guests and oversees the family-style service at each table. On Thursdays, a lighter five-course supper is served.
A not-so secret garden flourishes on Philadelphia’s fashionable Washington Square, drawing diners nightly to this cheese-centric restaurant where palates are elevated to a blissful state and spirits soar with the staff’s precision, knowledge and warmth. All seemingly delivered with little effort or fuss. And that’s just the way Aimee Olexy, co-owner of Talula’s Garden, designed it. And the way she wants her guests to enjoy it.
It’s a rainy Wednesday night in New Orleans, and the cheese shop is packed. We’re here at St. James, a retailer located on the edge of the city’s business district, sandwiched between a surf-themed dive bar and slick, remodeled hotels. Inside the glassy front of St. James, well-appointed New Orleanians, from girls on a night out to older couples, sit at a couple dozen tables, their attention focused on a tray of four cheeses in the middle of each table. It’s a full house at the Alpine cheese tasting night, and a great night to be a cheese connoisseur in New Orleans.