For anyone but the most seasoned cheese connoisseur, walking into a cheese shop can be a bit intimidating. Sure, you can probably tell the cheesemonger whether you want a soft or hard cheese, and you can flip a coin to decide whether you prefer something from France or Italy. But when the professional behind the counter starts discussing rennet and mouthfeel and throwing around terms like nutty and earthy and barnyardy, it’s easy to get lost.
When it comes to picking out cheese, most of us have a habit of reaching for the one that’s most familiar. Discovering new cheeses is an art form – and it takes constant work to expand your cheese knowledge. Unless you’re regularly talking to your local cheesemonger or picking up something new every time you go to the store, your palate probably isn’t opening up to your new favorite cheese.
Not everybody has a great cheese shop around the corner or has the time to do their own research, but fortunately there are plenty of services that do the grunt work for you and will deliver a selection of cheeses right to your front door.
Here are a few cheese subscription options that help you become a cheesemonger right in your own home.
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Founded in 2017 by Connecticut-based cheesemongers Laura Downey and Chris Palumbo, Cheesemonger Box helps you become a cheese expert. For $75 a month, subscribers are welcomed home by a box of three different artisanal cheeses.
The cheeses have a great range of flavors, and Laura and Chris provide tasting notes and information on the cheesemakers, as well as pairing suggestions so you can really go the extra mile when sharing these new cheeses with your friends.
For an extra $20, the service will pair your cheese with a “small batch accompaniment,” such as jams or charcuterie, so you can help round out your cheeseboard.
Murray’s Monthly Club: When you’re having a party
There’s no better place to go when you want to learn about cheese than America’s most famous cheese aficionado: Murray’s.
Murray’s Cheese Monthly Clubs is the cream of the crop when it comes to cheese and meat subscriptions. Murray’s provides cheeses and meats that you’d never consider getting yourself, all along with its monthly newsletter that includes detailed tasting notes, cheese profiles, histories and pairing suggestions.
A 4-month subscription costs $275 ($68.75/month) that comes with three cheeses from around the world, most of which your average cheese eater has never heard of (let alone tasted). Once the four months are over, you’ll be armed with some new favorite cheeses and hopefully not too many extra pounds.
With more and more artisanal cheese shops popping up all over the country, chances are, you’ve got a great local cheesemonger within a reasonable distance of your house. Don’t be afraid to go in and ask for their monthly suggestions and have them create a cheese tasting package for you. Some cheese shops will even have a program already set up and be able to ship their monthly picks right to your door.
For anyone based in California, check out The Cheese Shop in Carmel, which has a great monthly subscription – three delicious cheeses is less than $35.95 per month.