Taste Artisan Cheese & Gourmet Shop, next to Wine Steals on University Avenue sells cheese from around the world, olive oils, crackers, dried Molinari salami and pates. In this almost two year-old casual store, owners George and Mary Palmer passionately share their knowledge to help customers try new and seasonal products. George studied cheese with The Aniata Cheese Co. owner Bob Stonebrook (see below). The Palmers offer classes, including a recent beer and cheese pairing and an upcoming Spanish cheeses and wines on June 14th. If you’re next door sipping, try a cheese plate for $5 that might feature a slightly nutty flavored, firm textured Spanish sheep’s milk cheese to pair with a rustic red wine or hearty ale. One table had nine different Gouda that Mary suggested are great with beers. I bought some terrific Irish blue and Parmesan cut fresh from the wheel to share with friends.

Mary believes that cheese is an affordable luxury and she can work with any budget to introduce newcomers to the charms of fresh cheese. She suggests a picnic at home, good bread, wine, and of course a nice cheese selection. You can taste everything before you buy and your sales receipt keeps track of what you buy for future trips. Join their email list at 1243-1/2 University Avenue, Hillcrest, 619-683-2306, closed Monday

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