Cathy said the goal of Whole Foods is create the perfect pairing, or as Max McCalman, a cheese guru says, ‘A Marriage Made In Heaven’.
I was excited to try the ‘Perfect Pairings’, but, before that, I had an agenda with Cathy Strange. It is ‘rare’ to meet the head cheese buyer in a social situation and keep it social.
In my travels, on the last day, near Leon, I sampled a raw sheep’s milk cheese, aged eleven months, named Sansuena.
There was something special about the cheese that made me ask, ‘Can I buy this cheese in America?’.
No, was the answer.
I wanted to help the ever-so poor Spanish dairy farmers.
Unemployment in Spain is near twenty-seven per cent.
The farmers are poor, with little immediate success on the horizon.
I wanted to make a small difference in their lives by finding a home for Sansuena in America.
To make a long story short, I packed a small suitcase of Sansuena and carried it onto the airplane with me.
After I arrived in America, I contacted a cheese buyer at Atalanta Imports (NJ), who, after some time, met with the Spanish cheese maker of Sansuena and agreed to import and distribute the cheese throughout the states.
I met my goal.
My cheese background is straight forward. I helped Chef Terrence Brennan open the Artisanal Cheese Center (NY) and wrote over 200 cheese descriptions for his website, followed by a year plus as a cheese consultant for the now famous Gary Vaynerchuk, from the Wine Library (NJ). I took an empty 3,000 sf space and turned it into a cheese and gourmet shop, selling over 300 types of cheese.
The rest of the story should be obvious. I talked with Cathy Strange about Sansuena, told her the story of the cheese, and am hoping that she will sample the cheese and take it in as a new cheese at Whole Foods.
If Whole Foods sells your cheese, then you know your cheese is a winner.
It is easy to trust the wine and cheese recommendations from the country’s leading ‘hip to shop at’ supermarket. I initiated a wine and cheese tasting at my house, stealing the name, ‘Rinds & Vines at the Kampe’s’.
I invited a half dozen friends to partake in this experiment.
To set-up the tasting, I followed the Whole Foods playbook.
Start with the simpler cheese and wine pairings and move forward to heavier wines and cheeses. End with an aperitif, in this case, a sweet sparkling wine and cheese pairing.
Basically, Phil ‘knows wine and cheese pairings’.
Do what I did and you will look like a star.
#1 CHEESE: (Ca) Cowgirl Creamery Organic Mt. Tam (smooth, buttery, earthy, triple cream, pasteurized cow’s milk)
#3 CHEESE: (Spain) El Trigal Manchego (sheep’s milk, toasted almonds, earthy, gamey)
#3 WINE: (Spain) Lamatum Ribera del Crianza (vanilla, nutmeg, full-bodied, red fruit) $10
Cheese quantities were 8-12 ounces for each type+