Artisan Cheese Company, Sarasota

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I am breaking from my Christmas Song/Lyric themed post titles for a somewhat special edition. A week or so ago Bob and I, while running errands, tried the Artisan Cheese Company downtown. So this is technically not a travel post, it is a local travel post. Tourists in out own home town so to speak. Anyway, I had asked Bob to find a cheese shop and he found one not just within driving distance, but locally. We had lunch there a few weekends ago and loved it. Tonight we had the Cheese 101 Class.

It was fantastic! We sampled 13 cheeses, from a very mild mozzarella to a very strong blue. Everything was paired with wines (3 total) and small accommodations like nuts, fruits, bread, chutney, etc. Louise, the owner, and her husband Parker, created a fun, entertaining, but highly informative atmosphere. Can you tell we loved it?

Some of the highlights …

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I am a huge goat cheese fan, and this had to be some of the best I’ve ever had. Yes, it rivals the Scottish goat cheese we had over the summer. Creamy, buttery, with a … Strong is the wrong word, but flavorful taste. I have had a few glasses of wine as I write this, so bear with me.

Next favorite was a sheep’s cheese called Lamb Chopper. We had picked this one up the last time we were there, but forgot that it was the same cheese. Velvety, smooth, beautiful color and suck an amazing taste … I could say I could eat this for dinner, but in all honesty, we HAVE eaten it for dinner … Recently.

There were several other really good cheeses in the mix and I loved how pairing them with a little wine, an apple slice, some honey or a nut totally changed the flavor. Louise was fantastic with suggestions for what to pair with which cheese, so we got a full range of favors.

The last cheese we tasted was a blue. Great Hill Blue is a Massachusetts cheese company that has been doing small batches for a long time. I don’t like blue cheese and had every intention of skipping this one, but Bob had such an expression of rapture on his face that I had to try it. Not my cup of tea, but I will say, it had an amazing texture. Creamy, light, and smooth which is not what I expect in a blue. However, it still had that super strong taste that did not work for me.

I had a better post in my head as we were taking part in the tasting, but I left my notes on the table.

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Clearly, however, we liked everything enough to come home with a bag full of stuff. Wednesday’s dinner will be cheese, crackers/bread and wine. We can’t wait. … And I told Bob that I want to do the cheese tasting again. That alone should tell you how good this was.

So … Check out http://artisancheesecompany.com and if you are within driving distance of Sarasota, stop in. You will not be sorry you did.

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