The store windows were taped with paper to keep out the lookie-loos. Mark and I had an appointment so we let ourselves in, despite the ‘do not enter’ sign.
We walked into a homey but voluminous retail space flanked by tall brick walls, high ceilings, a tattered wood floor, and a lot of empty real estate. This is Cured, or will be – Boulder’s new uber friendly, uber freshtastic, European-style cheese shop.
Three days before the grand opening, and there appeared to be a lot yet to do. Despite the time crunch, owners Will and Carol greeted us in the friendly manner one would expect of a good neighbor.
The pride in their faces and the passion in their hearts was palpable. “The inspiration for the store came while living in Spain” says Will with a very charming smile, “where groceries are purchased fresh every day. They don’t have huge refrigerators in Spain like we do here in the states. Americans are almost like hoarders with our pantries full of packaged foods that last for months or years. That’s not the lifestyle in Spain. Most everything is fresh and consumed that day.”
Coral and Will offered us a tour of the shop and so began my questions and education. Mark started to snap pictures and I had come with some cheesy questions and I needed answers. My first question was:
“How can I tell if my stinky cheese is still good? What’s the difference between good stink and bad stink?”
I asked with all sincerity. I was thinking of that plastic-wrapped brie that almost knocked me out the other night. Coral takes my question seriously and says that “cheese should not have an ammonia smell. If it stings your nose, and smells like ammonia, it is past its prime.”
First on the tour was the space reserved for the indoor mini ‘farm-stand’ featuring seasonal greens from Isabelle Farms and Cultiva a youth gardening program. We were standing in the middle of the space, so we had to use our imaginations as there wasn’t a table or any fresh veggies, yet. Will proudly noted that they will have a mini root cellar, too.
Just past the soon-to-be-farm-stand, along the right wall, will be the main attraction: the cheese bar and slicing station. One display case was showing off several powdery white, whole rounds of cheese encased in rind. “Cheese is a living organism,” Coral says. “Cutting a cheese interrupts its evolutional process.” Mark asked if cheese rinds are edible. I wanted to raise my hand and say “I know, I know!” Coral confirmed my answer but explained it much better than I would have. “If the rind is part of the natural organism, it is edible. Wax casings, such as found on Gouda, are not.”
There is NO plastic on Coral’s cheeses. “Plastic kills air flow,” she warns. Once cut, cheeses are wrapped in cheese paper. I’ve never seen cheese paper so I gave it a close inspection. It is a two-ply paper. Brown on the outside and clear on the inside. If you don’t have cheese paper at home, they will sell you some, or you can use parchment paper, aluminum foil, or plastic containers with small air holes.
We continued towards the back of the store to the glassed-in cheese aging ‘cave’ that will store their cheeses at the ideal temperature of 50-55 degrees. Will informs me that this “allows bacteria to evolve and develop.” Most residential refrigerators are too cold. Coral is so attentive to her cheeses that each delivery of cheese is flipped upon arrival to redistribute moisture that has settled.
There’s a wine room with shelves designed by Will and Coral, a tasting and education room, and a baking room where Will plans to hand make the ‘evening’ baguette. “People want their baguettes on their way home from work, not on their way to the office” he says. Makes sense to me. My immediate thought is that I want an evening baguette.
Want coffee with your cheese? Coffee will be roasted on the spot using a 1929 German roaster manufactured by Ferdinand Gothot. The coffee bar will be operated by Vajra and Cara Rich of boxcarcoffee. They were busy setting up the coffee bar and hoping that the precious roaster would arrive in time.
Back to my reality, I had a book club planned for that evening for my Junior League girlfriends. I didn’t want to offer the same boring cheese tray: wedge of brie, grapes, crackers, etc. So I asked Coral and Will to set me up right for the perfect party, and they did. For a mere $130, I purchased all of the following:
- Little Boy Blue (blue cheese from Seattle, Washington)
- Bo Peep (jersey cow and sheep blend from Sebastopol, CA)
- Coupole (goat cheese from Websterville, Vermont)
- Corsini Cantuccini (almond biscotti from Italy)
- Matiz Fig bread (Spain)
- Napoli Applewood Smoked Salame (Virginia)
- A flattened bread cracker (Fort Collins, CO)
- Hazelnut Pan Forte Crostini
- Roasted Tomato Chutney (Wilmington, Massachusetts
- Cheese knives
- Parmesan cheese cleaver
- Cheese plane
- Moist cheese knife
Coral’s tip: “unwrap your cheese 30 minutes before serving to allow it to breathe”
Will’s tip: “parmesan tastes better crumbled, than sliced; sort of like French bread is better torn than sliced” (a man after my heart)
Not only did I feed my friends the freshest, tastiest, happiest cheese we’ve ever eaten, I shared everything I learned about cheese care. The girls were delighted with the added entertainment and raved about the cheeses. That evening we put each of the three cheese knives I purchased to the test. Amazingly enough, they actually made a difference.
It’s always rewarding to me to be able to share what I learn, especially when friends email me the next day saying they removed all the plastic wrap from their cheeses and placed them in perforated containers.
Respected cheese, is happy cheese.